GEAUGA COUNTY, OH (CNN) — In March of 1993, a witness reported seeing what appeared to be a doll on a country road outside Thompson in Geauga County.
It turned out to be the body of a newborn baby boy with the umbilical cord still attached.
The baby became known as Geauga’s child and for the next 26 years, authorities hoped that one day, modern technology would identify the person responsible for his death: his own mother.
It finally happened on Thursday.
“Over 26 years ago, Gale Eastwood Richie left her biological child for dead,” said Geauga County Sheriff Scott Hildenbrand. “To this day, even though she admitted her involvement, she shows absolutely no remorse and takes no ownership of the baby.
Ritchie, 49, of Euclid, was indicted Thursday by a grand jury on charges of aggravated murder and murder.
Investigators identified Ritchie as the mother of Geauga’s child by using the same familial DNA testing that allowed authorities in California to identify the Golden State Killer. They were able to reconstruct a family tree using the baby’s DNA and it eventually led to the doorstep of Ritchie.
Authorities say Ritchie, who was 22 at the time her baby died, readily admitted she placed the infant’s body in a plastic bag and then dumped it.
Ritchie also told investigators that she “disposed” of another baby in the same way two years earlier; that child’s body was never found.
“Her reaction was that she had not even thought about this until we brought it up,” Hildenbrand said. “She completely put it out of her mind she would. She always referred to the baby as an ‘it.’ She really had no emotion as far as that’s concerned.”