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Woman found guilty in 'Geauga's Child' trial sentenced life in prison with possibility of parole after 15 years

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Posted at 2:18 PM, May 24, 2022

CHARDON, Ohio — A Euclid woman convicted of murder after she put her newborn baby, umbilical cord still attached, in a garbage bag and left it in the wood in Geauga County in 1993, has been sentenced to life in prison with possibility of parole after 15 years.

Gail Eastwood-Ritchey, the child’s mother, was found guilty on April 4 by a jury of murder and not guilty of aggravated murder.

On Tuesday, she appeared, upon her request, via remote video from the Geauga County Jail for her sentencing.

Judge David M. Ondrey called her action to discard the baby, "a terrible one…almost indescribable in its sheer awfulness."

"Unable to face and address your own problems and the unwanted consequences your pregnancy might cause. In my opinion, you took the easy way out. You coldly and efficiently eliminated your problem by disposing of the only one who couldn't defend himself. He couldn't yell at you or berate you like you feared your father would. He couldn't leave you or break your heart like your boyfriend might. So instead, you threw your newborn baby into the garbage bag to make your troubles disappear," said Ondrey as he read his statement to Ritchey.

Ritchey will have to register as a violent offender upon release from prison.

A pastor who knew Ritchey for over 18 years and then her children when they attended vacation bible school, read a letter to the court asking for judicial leniency.

“I always found Gail to be kind, loving and patient understanding mother, wife, daughter, daughter-in-law and friend. I saw these traits in her consistently and abundantly," the pastor said.

The case was coined "Geauga's Child," a cold case that haunted authorities for decades.

The case all started on March 25, 1993, when a newborn baby was found near Sidley Road in Thompson Township. The child was partially dismembered and still had his umbilical cord attached. Authorities said the child had been placed in a trash bag and left in a wooded area but was dragged to the side of the road by animals.

Sheriff deputies stated that familial DNA from a voluntary ancestry online database was used to track Ritchey down. They identified distant family members in 2018.

Detectives used the same techniques that allowed authorities to track down the Golden State Killer. Authorities said the case is the 51st in the nation to be potentially solved using familial DNA techniques.

Investigators say Ritchey is still married to the baby's father, but that she hid the pregnancy from everyone. They say Ritchey now has three grown children.


 'Geauga's Child' trial — Euclid mother found guilty of murder of newborn baby in 1993

Opening statements in trial of Euclid woman accused of dumping newborn baby in woods 1993

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