Created on Wednesday, 05 June 2013 Written by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
HILLSBORO, Ohio (AP) — A southwest Ohio judge on Wednesday set bond at $100,000 each for a Richmond, Ky., couple charged in connection with the discovery last week of a 1-year-old boy's body in woods near Hillsboro.
Nathan Ritze, left, appears in Hillsboro, Ohio, Municipal Court Wednesday, June 5, 2013, with Whitney Johnson, right, where a judge set bond for the pair in connection with the discovery last week of a 1-year-old boy's body found in woods near Hillsboro. Ritze and Johnson are charged with felony counts of abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence. (AP Photo/Times-Gazette,Gary Abernathy)
Hillsboro Municipal Court Judge David McKenna also ordered electronic monitoring if they do post bail. The couple indicated they are unable to afford an attorney. Their next court appearance is scheduled for June 13.
Whitney Johnson, 26, and Nathan Ritze, 25, are charged with felony counts of abuse of the corpse of Johnson's son and tampering with evidence.
A search of a wooded area last Friday led to discovery of the body of Garin Niehaus. Authorities suspect the boy was buried there last December. The boy's father has said he hadn't seen him since last year and that he hadn't known where Johnson had moved.
The couple hasn't spoken publicly about the charges, but Hillsboro police say Johnson told investigators that the child suffered from pneumonia. But police say it's not clear why he would have been secretly buried.
The Times-Gazette of Hillsboro (http://bit.ly/18Oh7sa ) reported that Hillsboro police Chief Nick Thompson said investigators plan to examine a van driven by the couple for possible evidence. Hillsboro police said they began investigating after receiving a call May 30 from someone concerned about the child and two siblings.
Richmond police went to the couple's home and found two older children, who were placed in the care of the Kentucky children's services agency.
Family members of the suspects and the child's father and an aunt were in the courtroom for Wednesday's hearing.
The Montgomery County coroner's office will do extensive lab testing to try to determine the cause of death. The Highland County coroner has said a preliminary examination didn't show any obvious signs of physical trauma.
Highland County's prosecutor has said it's too early in the investigation to discuss what actions her office might take. The case likely will eventually go to a grand jury to decide what, if any, charges the couple should face.