No one suspected him — until he squeezed the life out of a kitten months later.
An Indiana teen has been sentenced to 100 years in prison for killing his two siblings in separate incidents — a crime he might have gotten away with had he not tried to kill a kitten too.
17-year-old Nickalas James Kedrowitz was just 13 when he smothered both his 23-month-old half-sister, Desiree McCartney, and his 11-month-old stepbrother, Nathaniel Ritz, in 2017, in two separate killings that went unsuspected at the time.
According to court documents obtained by the Indy Star, police were called to reports of an unresponsive child at a home in Osgood on May 1, 2017.
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Nathaniel’s dad Stephen Ritz, who was engaged to Kedrowitz’s mother, told authorities he had asked the 13-year-old to watch his toddler half-sister while he went to check on the other children elsewhere in the home.
Moments later Kedrowitz, holding the child in a towel, told the parents that the child wasn’t feeling good and had stopped breathing. Desiree’s mother Christina McCartney attempted CPR until first responders arrived; the baby was transported to hospital, but died five days later.
An autopsy performed the following day did not determine a cause of death.
Two months after that, on July 20, authorities were once again dispatched to the home after reports of another unresponsive child. 11-month-old Nathaniel was rushed to hospital, where doctors said the baby’s heart had stopped completely — some 20-30 minutes before first responders arrived.
Christina McCartney would later tell police everything was normal that night, the family had had dinner and watched TV — until they asked Kedrowitz to take his baby stepbrother to bed.
Minutes later, her son remerged and told her “something is not quite right” with Nathaniel, and “He is not acting right. He ain’t moving.”
Nathaniel was pronounced dead shortly after midnight that night. Once again, an autopsy would prove inconclusive.
It wasn’t until a month and a half later that suspicions arose, when Christina McCartney called Indiana State Police to let them know her 13-year-old son had “mutilated a kitten to the point of almost killing it” at his aunt and uncle’s home, the court documents say; the cat had apparently scratched him, so he squeezed it in retaliation.
When his relatives decided they needed to put the kitten out of its misery, Kedrowitz asked if he could go with them “see the kitten’s brains splatter everywhere.”
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When police contacted the aunt, she told them the teen was falling behind at school and was frequently in fights, often lied and lost his temper. She said he reminded her of The Hulk.
It was decided Kedrowitz should undergo a psychological evaluation, the Star reported. After it was completed, psychologist Dr. Linda McIntire told police she believed Kedrowitz might be responsible for the mysterious deaths of his siblings.
After reading her report, police interviewed Kedrowitz. The court documents show he made multiple statements about “freeing his siblings from Satan and Hell.”
When asked if he was responsible for “freeing his siblings or causing their deaths,” he did not respond. He then told detectives he had had a conversation with God about his siblings, but had promised God he wouldn’t tell anyone.
When they asked to share just a little of the conversation, he agreed, and said after Desiree and Nathaniel had died he had dreamt about how an angel had helped him save them “from hell and the chains of fire”, and how he didn’t want them to live in the hell he lived in.
When asked for his definition of hell, he replied “chores”, the documents show.
He then told investigators he didn’t want to hurt either of them, but had to set them free from hell, so had put a blanket over Nathaniel’s head, and a towel over Desiree’s.
In January 2018, amended autopsy reports for both children were released: they showed Desiree and Nathaniel died of asphyxia due to smothering. Both were ruled homicides.
In September of 2019, it was decided the then-15 year-old Kedrowitz should be tried as an adult, charged with two counts of murder.
Out of five doctors who testified on whether or not he was competent to stand trial, only two said he was. The judge went with the minority.
On Wednesday, a Ripley County judge sentenced Kedrowitz to 100 years in prison — 50 years for each murder.
“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 Hertel told AP.
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