Boy, 4, Dies After His Stepmom Put His Legs In Scalding Water as Punishment: Cops

The boy's father says he forgives his wife, Anna Ritchie, pictured.

A 25-year-old Ohio woman was arrested for the death of her young stepson, who officials said died after she put his legs into scalding hot water

Anna Ritchie made her 4-year-old stepson, Austin Derreck Cooper, put his legs into burning water and sent the boy to bed early Tuesday night, police said.

Little Austin was found not breathing the next morning. 

Emergency responders rushed the child to Atrium Hospital, but he could not be saved. 

Read: Gay Couple Suffers Severe Burns After Being Attacked With Boiling Water As They Slept

Investigators said Ritchie used the scalding water as punishment, but it was not clear what the punishment was for. 

"There's nothing a four year old could ever do to deserve a punishment like this," Franklin Police Chief Russ Whitman said, WLWT-TV reported. 

Austin's father, Robert Ritchie III, told a 911 dispatcher that he believed the child got into a hot bath with his wife Tuesday night. 

"Just, 'Why?' He was so young. He was innocent. Why?" he said to WLWT-TV

He told the station he didn't understand why his wife would do this to his son, who he won full custody of in January, but he forgives her. 

Read: Man Charged With Severely Burning Girlfriend's 1-Year-Old Son in the Bath

"The Lord me that even through the hardest things in life, you've got to forgive," he said. 

Anna Ritchie is expected to appear in court Friday. She faces an endangering children charge, but the charge may be raised since Austin's death was ruled a homicide.

She remains jailed on a $350,000 bond, which was raised from $100,000 once the Warren County coroner ruled on the manner of the little boy's death.

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