Police: Boy, 4, dies after being punished in scalding water

FRANKLIN, Ohio (AP) — A 4-year-old Ohio boy stopped breathing and died after his legs were put in scalding water as a punishment, police said Thursday, and his stepmother is charged with child endangerment.

The death of Austin Derreck Cooper has been ruled a homicide.

Franklin police said their initial investigation determined the hot water was a punishment, though they didn’t share details about why the child might have been disciplined.

“There’s nothing a 4-year-old could ever do to deserve a punishment like this,” Chief Russ Whitman told WLWT-TV.

The boy’s stepmother, Anna Ritchie, was being held on $350,000 bond, Whitman said. Her initial court appearance by video was scheduled for Friday. Ritchie had no attorney on record in Franklin Municipal Court.

The boy’s father told a 911 dispatcher the child got into a hot bath Tuesday night, then went to bed and was found unresponsive Wednesday morning at home in Franklin, roughly 35 miles north of Cincinnati.

“He got into a hot bath last night with my wife, and she thought he’d be OK. He said he wanted to go lay down in bed,” Robert Ritchie III told the dispatcher on a recording of the Wednesday call.

When the dispatcher asked if someone might try to resuscitate the boy, the father indicated it was too late.


Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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