An Ohio woman has been convicted for the murder of her newborn baby that she committed over 30 years ago.
Now 51-year-old Gail Eastwood-Ritchey had placed her newborn infant in a trash bag and abandoned the child in the woods back in 1993. The New York Times reported that the woman went without punishment for the crime for almost three decades before being found guilty of murder by a jury in Geauga County, Ohio.
The infant’s body was actually discovered by a mail carrier off of a rural road after it had been attacked by animals and dragged to its then present location. With no one claiming the infant, residents of Geauga county decided to hold a funeral for the child, burying them under a headstone labelled “Geauga’s Child.”
The case of the deceased child would go unsolved for many years until back in 2019 a detective with the county Sheriff’s office decided to send over DNA from the infant to a site that aided in identifying his family origins. The Associated Press reported it was because of this family tree that officers were able to narrow down their search for the suspect in the case and ended up arresting the mother in June 2019.
Following her arrest, Eastwood-Ritchey confessed to the crime back in 1993 in addition to abandoning another one of her newborns two years prior, which her defense attorney, Steven Bradley, argued had been born stillborn, as was concluded by the coroner.
The defense attorney shared that Eastwood-Ritchey had been dating her future husband during the year 1992; later in the fall when she discovered she was pregnant, she decided to not tell anyone. It was in February 1993, that Eastwood-Ritchey gave birth to the child, which is claimed to have been a stillborn.
“Ms. Eastwood-Ritchey walked to the kitchen, grabbed a plastic trash bag and put the baby inside, his umbilical cord still attached,” Bradley said, according to the Times. “She placed him in the trunk of her car.”
“Days later, she drove a group of girls from her church to a weekend retreat in a rural area and discarded the bag about a couple hundred yards into the snowy woods under a tree,” he added.
“She was isolated and alone,” Bradley said. “There was no one to confide with. She was alone with a group of people in her world that never saw her as pregnant. Neither did Gail.”
According to the Times, however, “prosecutors contended that Ms. Eastwood-Ritchey had known she was pregnant three months before the birth, and that she had done nothing to prepare, which they argued was evidence of intent. Her actions, prosecutors said, caused the death of the child.”
“She literally treated him like a piece of garbage,” the prosecution accused, according to the AP. “Tossed him in the woods … didn’t even bury him.”
It seems the jury was in agreement and convicted the mother of murdering her newborn child, although the crime did not have enough evidence to prove it was premeditated, which caused them to acquit her of aggravated murder. Eastwood-Ritchey faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and will be sentenced at an undetermined later date.