Child died of blunt force traumas; twin injured

Tabitha Zimmerman

The Warren County Sheriff’s Office has released more information regarding Wednesday’s death of a 22-month-old child.

According to a news release issued Monday, the child’s mother, Tabitha Rose Zimmerman, 28, was arrested on Thursday on two counts of cruelty and injuries to children. Her boyfriend Chad Andrew Ritchie, 28, was arrested earlier the same day on charges of second-degree murder, malicious wounding and two counts of cruelty to children.

“A second child from the residence was examined at Warren Memorial Hospital and was determined to need further medical attention,” the release states. “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 state that Zimmerman called the Warren County Sheriff’s Office at 6:36 p.m. Wednesday to tell them that her 22-month old son was not breathing. According to the court documents, Zimmerman was not in the house but had been told by Ritchie that her son was not breathing.

“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,” the criminal complaint against Zimmmerman reads.

Chad Ritchie

Ritchie called 911 and said he was with the child in their basement, the complaint states.

Warren County Fire and Rescue transported that child and his twin brother to Warren Memorial Hospital. According to court documents, the more seriously injured of the two boys “had rectal injuries with fresh blood around the rectal area, abdominal bruising in several spots, bruises to the head, left ear bruising, blood inside his ear, and a possible puncture wound to the lower left leg.” The boy was pronounced dead at the hospital.

“The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy on the child and found the cause of death to be multiple blunt force traumas,” the criminal complaints against Zimmerman and Ritchie read.

According to the criminal complaint against Zimmerman, the surviving twin brother also had injuries “consistent with assault.”

“Preliminary medical tests on the surviving child show malnourishment over the last year and extensive physical abuse,” the complaint reads.

According to the criminal complaint against Ritchie, he admitted to Sheriff’s Office investigators that he had assaulted the two children.

According to the criminal complaint against Zimmerman, she said in an interview with investigators that she “was aware of a pattern of abuse by Ritchie on each of her children.”

The complaint adds that Zimmerman’s and Ritchie’s residence at 908 Blue Mountain Road had household poisons “and other hazardous materials” accessible to the children. Police found the poisons during an execution of a search warrant, the complaint states.

Ritchie and Zimmerman are being held at Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact Lt. Phillip Henry at the Sheriff’s Office at 635-4128 or 635-7100.