| On Feb. 14, 1996 Therressa Jolynn Ritchie was found guilty of murder in the 1995 beating death of her 4-year-old daughter, Samantha.|
She was sentenced to 20.5 years to life.
| On July 18, 1995 a massive search began for four-year-old Samantha Ritchie after she was reported missing from her North Dayton home. |
For four days police and volunteers scoured the area, and on the night of July 21 Samantha's body was found in a water-filled pit.
Twelve days later Samantha's mother was charged with homicide.
Therressa Jolynn Ritchie
Ernest Vernell Brooks
The defense team
Short chronology:7-18-95 -- Samantha last seen alive at 1:30 a.m. at the home of Ritchie's neighbor Vicki Hammond. Police later conclude she died between then at 3 a.m. At 11 a.m. Ritchie calls 911 to report Samantha missing.
(A more detailed pre-trial chronology is also available )
7-19-95 -- Volunteers search the neighborhood and conduct a candlelight vigil outside Ritchie's home. The story dominates local media coverage and Samantha's photo is seen everywhere. Over the next few days the search involves more than 700 volunteers, hundreds of hours of overtime for police and the distribution of almost 30,000 fliers with Samantha's photo.
7-21-95 -- Samantha's body is found submerged in a water-filled pit at the nearby GHR Foundry.
8-3-95 -- Ritchie and Ernest Vernell Brooks are arrested.
8-31-95 -- Ritchie is indicted for murder.
9-14-95 Brooks pleads guilty to gross abuse of a corpse, obstruction of justice and tampering with evidence. He agrees to testify against Ritchie.
The trial:1-29-96 -- Ritchie's trial begins with jury selection.
1-31-96 -- A jury is seated; six men and six women. The jury visits the former Ritchie home at 809 Herman Ave. Defense and prosecution deliver their opening statements.
2-1-96 --In the first day of testimony, Prosecutor Mathias Heck shows the jury a series of photos, beginning with the now familiar portrait. Other photos show Samantha's body after her death. Deputy Coroner Dr. Lee Daniel Lehman testifies about the severity of Samantha's injuries.
2-2-96 -- Ritchie's neighbor Vicky Hammond testifies about the cast Ritchie was wearing at the time of Samantha's disappearance. Hammond says Ritchie once said it would make a good weapon.Hammond says Ritchie later took off the cast at Hammond's home and wanted to put it in the trash. Hammond secretly kept the cast and gave it to police.
The jury also hears from Peggy Powell, who was visiting Ritchie the night before Samantha was reported missing, and from officer Tracy Vukovic, who was the first police officer on the scene.
2-5-96 -- Ernest Vernell Brooks testifies, saying he saw Jolynn Ritchie beat Samantha to death with her cast and with a wrench. But Brooks also admits to giving several false statements to police.
2-6-96 -- Homicide investigator Thomas Lawson testifies. The retired Dayton Police detective says he heard Jolynn Ritchie confess during interrogation.
2-7-96 -- The prosecution rests its case after four detectives testified they heard Ritchie confess.
2-9-96 -- The defense case begins with testimony from Indiana University pathologist Dr. Michael Allen Clark .
2-14-96 -- After five hours of deliberation the jury finds Ritchie guilty of murder, gross abuse of a corpse, two counts of tampering with evidence and two misdemeanors; making a false alarm and inducing panic.
DOB: Oct. 21, 1970
Address: 809 Herman Ave.
Convicted of: murder, gross abuse of a corpse, two counts of tampering with evidence and two misdemeanors; making a false alarm and inducing panic.
Sentence: 20.5 years to life.
Background on Jolynn Ritchie:(published 8/4/95 )
- She tried to kill herself at age 7 by taking an overdose of aspirin. She left home at 13 and had her first baby when she was 14. She's battled drugs, booze and depression.
- She was raised in an alcoholic family in Northridge.
- She attended junior high in Northridge, but never made it to high school.
- She ran away from home with 19-year-old Edward Graley Sr. moved to Tucson, Ariz., where she had her first baby, Edward, at age 14. Her son, Gregory, 8, came along a year later. After a miscarriage at age 16, she gave birth to Timothy, 7, when she was 17. She and Graley never married.
- On Nov. 16, 1990, Jolynn married the man she considers the love of her life - Denton Ritchie, Samantha's father.
- She started drinking and using crack cocaine after Denton, a sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserve, was called up to fight in the Persian Gulf war about a month after they were married.
- Jolynn was arrested in 1994 on charges of disorderly conduct and intoxication and felonious assault. She was convicted of assault, a fourth-degree misdemeanor, sentenced to 30 days in jail, which were suspended, ordered to pay court costs and placed on six months' probation.
- The Ritchies' divorced in June 1995.