Mother speaks after her son killed in scalding water

FRANKLIN, Ohio (WDTN) — A mother is speaking out after her little boy died after police say his stepmom dipped him into scalding water.

Jessica Vanhoosier said it feels like a nightmare she cannot wake up from and is heartbroken that memories are all she has now.

“Taking him to the park, and we’d always pet horses, and we’d always go to Caesars Creek Park and find rocks,” said Vanhoosier as she recalled the memories she made with her four-year-old little boy, Austin Cooper.

Authorities said he died Wednesday in Franklin after his stepmom dipped him into scalding water as punishment. Austin’s father found his son unresponsive and called authorities.

Friday, 25-year-old Anna Ritchie, was arraigned on a charge of child endangering.

“It’s like a nightmare on a loop,” said Austin’s father, Robert Ritchie III. “Just why? He’s so young. Just an innocent little boy. I don’t know why.”

“I can’t imagine the pain he went through. That’s what kills me, just knowing how bad it hurt him and I wasn’t there to protect him,” said Vanhoosier.

A judge kept Anna Ritchie’s bond at $350,000. She will likely face more serious charges once this case goes to a grand jury. She is due back in court next Friday for a preliminary hearing. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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