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September 13, 2018 • Headline News
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Osgood family loses children 81 days apart
2 babies murdered; teen sibling charged

At a press conference held Wednesday, September 12, Ripley County Prosecutor Ric Hertel, center, Chief Deputy Shane Tucker and Indiana State Police Detectives stood in unison as Hertel addressed multiple media agencies about the possibility of two young children dying possibly at the hand of their then 13-year-old sibling.

Wanda English Burnett

On May 1, 2017, a tragic scene unfolded at the house on 238 S. Maple St. in Osgood that would be repeated just 81 days later. Two young children, first , two-year-old, Desiree McCartney, and then on July 20, 2017, 11-month-old, Nathaniel Ritz, died in that house and police say a now 14-year-old sibling has been charged with two counts of Murder regarding the deaths of the children, in the form of a juvenile delinquency petition.

Desiree was transported on May 1 by EMS to Margaret Mary Health in Batesville and then on to Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati, where she was pronounced deceased on May 6. Desiree’s father, Gary McCartney of Greensburg, told The Versailles Republican it was a hard thing to bear. (He and the child’s mother were divorced at the time of the murder). He noted that his daughter was an organ donor and he knows another child received her heart. It’s still hard for him to think his daughter died. “She was cute, funny, and smart,” he said. He wanted people to know the Osgood First Responders from the fire department did an excellent job and his family truly appreciates every effort they made when responding to the home.

While police were investigating the odd manner of death of Desiree, one of the possible suspects, a 13-year-old sibling, was removed from the home under Department of Child Services direction for a short time, but, placed back in the home by the same agency. The prosecutor, nor detectives could talk with the teenager at that time, since he was made a ward of the court, and declared a CHINS - child in need of services.

On July 20, 2017, tragedy struck again. This time an 11-month old baby, Nathaniel Ritz, was unresponsive and rushed to a hospital, but could not be saved. A doctor at the hospital told police the child’s heart had stopped beating about 20-30 minutes prior to the arrival of EMS at the home.

Police interviewed the children’s mother, Christina McCartney, her boyfriend, Stephen Ritz and the 13-year-old sibling who had been placed back in the home.

In both situations where babies died – the common thread was the juvenile was the last person to be alone with them. When Nathaniel’s body was autopsied at the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office, the forensic pathologist conducting the work was Dr. Dorothy Dean. While she was unable to determine the cause of death, she indicated that further investigative correlative information was recommended.

Police were knee deep in investigating the two mysterious deaths and began looking strongly at the 13-year-old brother. They received a call in September, 2017, from relatives he was staying with that he had mutilated a kitten and was just overall not doing well. The Probable Cause notes that he was “currently failing all of his classes and also had been involved in some fights there.” It went on to say that the relative reported him as having a bad temper and being self-centered. He was staying with an aunt and uncle at the time and on September 5 police got a call telling them there were some things they should be aware of.

Police interviewed the aunt, Candice Barker, who said she suffers from diabetes and has a prosthetic leg. She said the teenager told her with all of her health problems maybe she just needed to die. He also made similar comments about an old dog they had at their house. The aunt said the teen had problems with telling the truth and also had depression issues.

Detectives talked with the teen’s uncle and guardian, Jeff Barker, and went to his home where the teenager was staying after Nathaniel’s death. The teen told police he had a conversation with God about Desiree and Nathaniel, but had promised God he wouldn’t tell anyone. The teenager eventually told police he “had to do it”, speaking of the murders of both babies. He said he was saving them from the hell that he had to live in. When asked what that hell was, he talked about a long chore list he had to complete every day while living with his mother and Stephen Ritz. He also indicated physical abuse that took place in the home initiated by Stephen.

The defendant said he killed both the children in the same manner by holding a towel or blanket over their heads until they weren’t breathing any longer.

On January 19, 2018, the teenager told another adult that he had broken one of the 10 commandments - thou shalt not kill. According to court records, he went on to say he killed his brother and sister.

The teenager, whose name is not mentioned due to his age, is now incarcerated at the Dearborn County Detention Center in Lawrenceburg.

According to Prosecutor Ric Hertel, the State has filed a motion to have him waived into adult court due to the nature of the crimes. Hertel went on to say that the age and the alleged acts along with information in the Probable Cause Affidavit call for a presumptive waiver to adult court.

In a press conference held Wednesday morning, September 12 at the Ripley County Courthouse annex there were multiple news agencies there, as the prosecutor addressed the situation flanked by his Deputy Prosecutor Shane Tucker and investors from the Indiana State Police.

When asked questions by the medias, Hertel could only reply, “In 19 years of doing this (being a prosecutor) I haven’t seen anything quite as disturbing and final.” He said he has never charged a child of this age with murder, but if he was to be set free, the prosecutor noted he felt there would be additional problems of great magnitude.

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