GEAUGA COUNTY, Ohio (WOIO) - The Geauga County Sheriff’s Office announced an arrest in the cold case murder of “Geauga’s Child,” a baby found abandoned in Thompson Township 26 years ago.
Investigators took 49-year-old Gail Eastwood-Ritchey, who currently resides in Euclid, into custody Thursday afternoon for charges of murder and aggravated murder.
According to Geauga County Sheriff Scott Hildenbrand, the baby boy was found abandoned with its umbilical cord still attached by two newspaper delivery drivers on March 25, 1993 in the middle of Sidley Road.
The baby was also missing an arm and a leg, believed to have been mauled by animals and dragged into the road before the discovery.
Detectives say Eastwood-Ritchey admitted to giving birth to the baby, putting it in a plastic bag, and abandoning it in the wooded area.
“To this day, even though she admitted her involvement, she shows absolutely no remorse and takes no ownership of baby doe,” Sheriff Hildenbrand said.
Eastwood-Ritchey also admitted to detectives that she committed a similar crime two years prior to the birth of Geauga’s Child in Cuyahoga County. That case is still under investigation.
Investigators say Eastwood-Ritchey is currently married to the father of “Geauga’s Child” and now has three adult children.
She hid the pregnancy from her family and the child’s father, according to the Geauga County sheriff, which is why nobody else is facing charges in connection to the murder.
Forensics experts conducted familial DNA testing and were able to identify potential family members. The initial DNA matches were made with over 1,400 people in September 2018, linking the baby boy to relatives in the 1800s. Detectives then worked backwards and were able to narrow the suspect’s identity down to Eastwood-Ritchey.
“I would like to thank the family members that were contacted and assisted with the investigation,” Sheriff Hildenbrand said. “Without their cooperation we may not have solved this case at this time.”
This is the 51st case in the nation solved using familial DNA testing.
Residents of Geauga County held a funeral for Geauga’s Child in 1993. To this day, visitors leave gifts and flowers at his gravestone.
Sheriff Hildenbrand says Eastwood-Ritchey is scheduled to appear in court for her initial appearance on either Friday or Monday. She is currently being held at the Geauga County Jail.