FRONT ROYAL – The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has released information regarding a cause of death for the 22-month old baby boy who died Wednesday. An autopsy on the child indicates that the cause of death was “multiple blunt force traumas.”
According to a Monday (Nov. 13) phone interview with Lieutenant Phillip Henry, the toddler’s mother, Tabitha Zimmerman, 28, was arrested on Thursday on two counts of cruelty and injuries to children. Her boyfriend Chad Ritchie, 28, was arrested earlier the same day on charges of second-degree murder, malicious wounding and two counts of cruelty to children.
A Monday morning media release from Warren County Sheriff D.T. McEathron indicated that, “A second child from the residence was examined at Warren Memorial Hospital and was determined to need further medical attention. The second child is also 22 months old and the sibling of the first. The second child was admitted to a regional hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.”
Court documents obtained by Royal Examiner indicate that Zimmerman called the Warren County Sheriff’s Office at 6:36 p.m. Wednesday, November 8, to report that her 22-month old son was not breathing. Zimmerman was not in the house, according to the documents, but had been told by Ritchie that one of her sons was not breathing.
According to the criminal complaint, “The mother stated that Chad Ritchie, her boyfriend and the person caring for her two children, had called her and stated he was with her son at their shared residence in Warren County.”
Warren County Fire and Rescue transported that child and his twin brother to Warren Memorial Hospital, where the toddler was pronounced dead.
“Preliminary medical tests on the surviving child show malnourishment over the last year and extensive physical abuse,” court documents state.
A criminal complaint filed against Ritchie states that he admitted to Sheriff’s Office investigators that he had assaulted the two children.
Zimmerman, according to court documents, admitted to investigators that she “was aware of a pattern of abuse by Ritchie on each of her children.”
Ritchie and Zimmerman are being held at RSW Regional Jail.
Cora Sammons, who sometimes babysat the boys, said Monday night that she is “devastated.”
“Every time I would see them it would make my whole day better. Their smiles would light up the room. They loved to bounce on my legs! Every time they came to my house, and it was time for them to leave, they’d hold onto me and didn’t wanna leave. It’s just a really hard time for me.”
Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact Lt. Phillip Henry at the Warren County Sheriff’s Office at 635-4128 or 635-7100.