Mom Who Left Baby in Woods in 1993 Convicted of Murder

Ohio's Gail Eastwood-Ritchey now faces life in prison in 'Geauga's Child' case
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2022 11:05 AM CDT
Mom Who Left Baby in Woods in 1993 Convicted of Murder
Gail Eastwood-Ritchey.   (Geauga County Sheriff's Office)

An Ohio woman who abandoned her newborn in the woods nearly 30 years ago was convicted of murder Monday and now faces up to life in prison. Gail Eastwood-Ritchey was "stoic" as the verdict was read in court, though one of her lawyers "widened his eyes, seeming stunned," per the New York Times. Eastwood-Ritchey, 51, of Euclid, found through genetic genealogy, had admitted to abandoning the baby in a trash bag in a wooded area before animals came upon it. The dismembered body of the boy, dubbed "Geauga's Child," was found along a road in Geauga County's Thompson Township, where animals had presumably dragged it, in March 1993. Eastwood-Ritchey was then in her early 20s.

She was acquitted of aggravated murder as jurors apparently found a lack of premeditation. Prosecutors argued Eastwood-Ritchey had in no way prepared to become a mother in the three months prior to the birth, when she knew she was pregnant. They also noted she admitting to abandoning another newborn two years earlier; police say that case is still under investigation. Joseph Felo, the medical examiner for Cuyahoga County, testified that "Geauga's Child" hadn't been stillborn, but had died from "some action." Prosecutors claimed Eastwood-Ritchey had killed the child before leaving his body in the woods. "She literally treated him like a piece of garbage," they said, per CBS News.

But defense lawyer Steven Bradley said Eastwood-Ritchey believed the baby was stillborn. "I don't remember it making any noise," she'd told investigators in 2019, per the Times. Bradley said his client gave birth in the home of children she was carrying for as a nanny, put the baby in a trash bag, and then put the bag in the trunk of her car. He said it was days later that she abandoned the body during a retreat with members of her Baptist church. He said she told no one, including her boyfriend (now her husband), with whom she now shares three children. He added he was "shocked and surprised" at the verdict, as prosecutors "did not have enough evidence to meet their burden of proof," per CBS. (More murder stories.)

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