OSGOOD, Ind. — An Indiana teen was sentenced last week to serve 100 years in prison for smothering his two toddler siblings to death less than three months apart in 2017.
Nickalas Kedrowitz, 17, of Osgood, was sentenced to 50 years each in the murders of Desiree McCartney, 23 months, and Nathaniel Ritz, 11 months. Desiree was Kedrowitz’s half-sister and Nathaniel was his stepbrother, according to The Associated Press.
Kedrowitz was 13 years old when the babies were slain over the summer of 2017, but authorities tried him as an adult. The Indianapolis Star reported in 2019 that five doctors had testified regarding the teen’s mental competency.
Three of the doctors said he was incompetent to stand trial, while two said he was, the Star reported. A Ripley County judge sided with the minority and ruled that the teen could face a jury.
The AP reported that the teen told investigators he was “saving Desiree and Nathaniel from hell and the chains of fire.” According to court documents, Kedrowitz told detectives he “didn’t want them to have to live in the hell that he did,” so he suffocated the children.
When investigators asked him what “hell” was to him, he replied, “chores.” He then asked the detectives if they’d seen the list of daily chores he was required to do, the AP reported.
Kedrowitz’s 50-year sentences are to be served consecutively, or one after the other, a judge ruled.
“This wasn’t some sort of heat of passion, one killing and then minutes or hours or even days later. We’re talking months here, so we think that the consecutive part of the sentence was warranted and appropriate in this circumstance,” Ripley County Prosecutor Richard “Ric” Hertel told reporters after the Feb. 2 sentencing hearing.
Kedrowitz’s mother, Christina McCartney, told WTHR in 2018 that she had never seen the troubled side of her son before the murders.
“No mother would ever want to think about that being their son,” McCartney said at the time. “He did great in school. He didn’t show these symptoms. When I found out the truth, I had him put into a mental hospital.”
Kedrowitz was convicted last August of two counts of murder. He faced up to 65 years for each killing.
>> Related story: Teen accused of suffocating 2 toddler siblings to ‘save them from hell,’ court records say
At the time of Kedrowitz’s August 2018 arrest, Hertel said the case first began May 1, 2017, when paramedics were called to the home in Osgood where Kedrowitz; his mother, Christina McCartney; his stepfather, Steven Ritz; and three younger siblings lived. When the first responders arrived, they found Desiree was not breathing.
The Batesville Herald-Tribune reported that McCartney told investigators that she arrived home from work to find Kedrowitz holding Desiree in a towel.
“Christina said Nickalas told her that he did not think Desiree was feeling good because she was not talking to him,” investigators wrote in a probable cause affidavit Hertel provided to reporters at Wednesday’s news conference.
McCartney began CPR while Ritz called 911, the court document said.
Desiree was taken to Margaret Mary Health in Batesville before being transferred to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, where she died five days later, Hertel said.
State police investigators started looking into the toddler’s death, as did child welfare workers with the Indiana Department of Child Services. According to the Herald-Tribune, Ritz told detectives that he was bathing Desiree when Nathaniel, then 8 months old, and another child, 1-year-old Abby, began crying in another room.
Ritz said he left Desiree in the tub for a few minutes, with Kedrowitz watching over her. When he returned, she was not breathing. The teen told investigators he left her alone for a minute to retrieve some baby wipes, the Herald-Tribune reported.
Nathaniel Ritz (left) was 11 months old when he was killed. Desiree McCartney (right) was almost two years old when she died. https://t.co/xWrXp14RkX— FOX19 NOW (@FOX19) February 1, 2022
Both investigations into Desiree’s death were still ongoing July 20, 2017, when paramedics were again called to the family’s home, where they found Nathaniel unresponsive, Hertel said. The boy, like his sister, was taken to Margaret Mary Health, where he was pronounced dead early the next morning.
McCartney told investigators she had asked Kedrowitz to tuck Nathaniel into bed, the affidavit said. A few minutes later, the teen told his mother, “Something is not right with Nathaniel. He is not acting right,” the court document said.
A second detective began investigating Nathaniel’s death, though he and the investigator in Desiree’s death coordinated their efforts since both deaths occurred in the same household, Hertel said during a 2018 news conference.
The investigations, which were already focused on the people living in the household, soon began to focus more sharply on Kedrowitz, Hertel said.
“The police officers start getting some information that’s contained in the probable cause affidavit about some rather disturbing statements that the 13-year-old was making to a variety of different individuals,” the prosecutor said.
Watch Ripley County Prosecutor Richard “Ric” Hertel speak about the case below, courtesy of WRTV.
The probable cause affidavit indicated that multiple people told investigators that Kedrowitz had talked about “some things (he) had done to some kittens,” Fox59 in Indianapolis reported.
That included mutilating a kitten “to the point of almost killing it” at his great-aunt and great-uncle’s home, the news station reported. The great-aunt, who has diabetes and a prosthetic leg, told investigators Kedrowitz told her “with all of her health problems, maybe she just needed to die.”
Kedrowitz made similar statements about an old dog at the home, the court document said.
Kedrowitz’s great-aunt told investigators that the teen mutilated some of her kittens, one so badly that its internal organs were hanging out and it was covered in blood, the Herald-Tribune said.
Kedrowitz admitted to his great-aunt that he got angry when the kitten scratched him and “squeezed (it) really hard,” the newspaper said. When his great-uncle realized the cat needed to be destroyed, Kedrowitz asked if he could go see “the kitten’s brains splattered everywhere,” the court document said.
State police investigators questioned the teen Dec. 13, 2017.
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“Nickalas then began to tell us about some dreams he had after (Desiree and Nathaniel) had died,” the affidavit said, according to the Herald-Tribune. “Nickalas started talking about saving Desiree and Nathaniel from hell and the chains of fire. Nickalas said he had help from an angel to free them.”
The detectives asked how the toddlers died. Kedrowitz told them he put a towel over Desiree’s head in the bathroom to “set her free to heaven,” the document said. Investigators said he also admitted that he put a blanket over Nathaniel’s head.
The murder case faced numerous delays over the years, including postponements due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Kedrowitz’s mental competency evaluations.
McCartney, his mother, previously told WTHR that she was heartbroken over her children’s deaths and the fact that her older son was responsible for them. She said she had nightmares about the babies’ last moments.
“What was it like to take that last breath? Did they ask for mommy? Was my daughter gasping for air? What about the baby?” she said, weeping. “They didn’t deserve this.”
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