New Date Set in Geauga’s Child Murder Trial
July 8, 2020 by John Karlovec

The trial of accused Geauga’s Child murderer Gail M. Ritchey is now scheduled to begin Aug. 24, according to a June 30 order issued in the case.

Update: On July 14, Judge David Ondrey agreed to continue the Aug. 24, 2020, trial date to Sept. 21, 2020, due defense counsel having a previously scheduled trial in federal court. 

The trial of accused Geauga’s Child murderer Gail M. Ritchey is now scheduled to begin Aug. 24, according to a June 30 order issued in the case.

Geauga County Common Pleas Court Judge David Ondrey originally scheduled her jury trial for Jan. 27, but agreed to postponed it due to scheduling conflicts. He then rescheduled the trial to April 27, only to have it continued due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In his March 31 order, Ondrey said a continuance was warranted to “protect the health and welfare of court staff, attorneys, witnesses, jurors, defendants and members of the public, and limit the spread of the Covid-19 virus within courthouses.”

The 50-year-old Ritchey was arrested in June 2019 and charged with the 1993 murder of Geauga’s Child after DNA collected from blood and tissue samples from the infant eventually led Geauga County Sheriff’s Office detectives to the doorstep of her Euclid home.

Ritchey, who is married to the father of Geauga’s Child and is the mother of three adult children, admitted to birthing the child — who the Cuyahoga County Coroner’s Office determined had been born alive — placing him in a trash bag and discarding him in a wooded area along Sidley Road in Thompson Township, Sheriff Scott Hildenbrand previously said.

It is believed wild animals partially dismembered the child and dragged his body to the side of Sidley Road, where two newspaper delivery people discovered the child and called police.

Though the facts surrounding the death of the child were few, they were tragic enough to urge the community into action.

Community members christened the baby “Geauga’s Child” and raised money to give him a proper burial and gravestone in Thompson’s Maple Grove Cemetery. The epitaph reads:

“Geauga’s Child lies here now in safety – just too late / “Too late to save his life, / “Too late to make things right, / “But not too late to teach us all to love and cherish life.”

Ritchey was indicted on charges of aggravated murder and murder. She has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Last October, Ritchey’s lawyer, Steven Bradley, asked Ondrey to move her case out of Geauga County due to widespread publicity, including “publicity that harkens back more than twenty years ago.”

However, Ondrey deferred ruling on the request, finding it was premature to transfer the case without attempting to first seat a jury in Geauga County.

“There is no clear and manifest showing that it would be a vain act to try to seat a jury in this county,” he ruled in his two-page order issued Dec. 3.

A trial management conference is set for Aug. 5.

Ritchey is out of jail having posted a $25,000 bond.