The Canal Winchester Times

Preliminary hearing set April 25 in murder case

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Madison Township resident Gary A. Ritter is scheduled for a preliminary hearing in Franklin County Municipal Court Friday, April 25, on a murder charge in connection with the stabbing death of his mother.

Madison Township Police Capt. Ken Braden said Ritter, 32, called 911 just before 6 p.m. April 16. At first, he said only that he needed officers and a medic at 3437 Burbank Road, the home he shared with his mother, 58-year-old Mary Jo Ritter.

After questioning by the police dispatcher, he first said he "flipped on her," then acknowledged he had "assaulted her" and said, "I did more than that," but wouldn't say what. He told the dispatcher a squad was needed and that he would not be armed. Then he hung up.

Braden said officers found Mary Jo Ritter's body at the top of the stairs, with a knife nearby. She had been stabbed numerous times.

"He's been charged with one count of murder, but as of yet, we don't have a motive," Braden said last week. "Once we got him in custody and transported down to Franklin County jail, he lawyered up and hasn't been willing to talk. We have been out to the house before, on a couple occasions, but it's been a few years."

Ritter was arraigned April 19 and remains in jail under a safety watch pending a mental health assessment.

After he left the house Oct. 10 and didn't return, his mother called 911 for help and told the dispatcher that Gary Ritter is bipolar.

Deputies found him walking in the middle of traffic on state Route 317, not far from his home. When a deputy told him to move, he refused. The deputy tried to take him into custody and he pulled away and struck the deputy.

He was charged with failure to comply, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and assault on a peace officer. He pleaded guilty to resisting arrest, and the other charges were dismissed after he agreed to enter a mental-health program. He was put on probation for two years; 88 days in jail were suspended. That probation has now been revoked.

Braden said that his officers did a tremendous job in their rapid response to the situation. Going forward, he said, Detective Nate Schiffel will handle the case for the township.

Columbus Dispatch reporter Allison Manning contributed to this story.

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