AP and Staff Report
A couple arrested Friday in Richmond waived extradition Monday from Madison County and were returned to Hillsborough, Ohio, where they face charges in the death of a 1-year-old boy whose body was found buried in a wooded area near there.
Ohio authorities have charged Whitney E. Johnson, 26, and her boyfriend, Nathan Ritze, 25, with abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence.
Ian Niehaus, who identified himself as the deceased child’s father, told the Hillsboro Times-Gazette newspaper he had long worried about his children, two of whom lived with Johnson.
“I never thought it would be like this,” he said in an interview, adding in tears: “I just wish I’d had more time with him.”
Niehaus said he fathered 1-year-old Garin Niehaus and a 5-year-old girl and had helped Johnson raise a 7-year-old boy.
Police say the two older children were removed from Johnson’s home and are in the care of the Kentucky children’s agency.
Police said Monday that Johnson told investigators the child had pneumonia, and a coroner said preliminary examination didn’t show any obvious physical trauma to his body.
Niehaus said Johnson had cut off contact with him late last summer, and he didn’t know she was living in Kentucky. He told the Times-Gazette he had heard they moved to Texas or New York.
He said he had gotten a truck-driving license and wanted to make child support payments in hopes of retaining his parental rights. He said he had talked to an attorney but was told he needed an address to serve legal papers to Johnson.
“I’m trying to do what I can do,” Niehaus said. “I needed to make more money.”
Niehaus, 28, said he and Johnson had lived together in a rocky relationship that would see her take off with the children for a week or two, then return. He said she left for good last June. He also said his relations with her family were strained, so he couldn’t get information from them about her whereabouts or the children’s welfare.
He said he had assumed that once Johnson and Ritze needed money, “they’d have to come back.”