Douglasville mother whose child died from exposure appears in court

Drugs ‘believed to be root cause’ for woman taking 2 kids into freezing, rainy conditions, sheriff says

A woman facing a murder charge after her 3-year-old daughter died from exposure from spending a freezing, rainy night in the woods at a Douglasville resort made her first appearance in court Thursday.

Uriha Ridge, 35, was arrested Jan. 19 after her youngest child died in the hospital, according to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. She and her two children, ages 3 and 7, were found in the woods at Foxhall Resort, where they were staying, after spending more than 11 hours outdoors with temperatures as low as 25 degrees. Investigators said they believe Ridge took drugs before and during their time in the woods.

Uriha Faith Ridge, 35, was accused of felony murder when her 3-year-old died from the effects of exposure after the family spent the night in the woods, according to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.

Credit: Douglas County Sheriff's Office

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Credit: Douglas County Sheriff's Office

At Thursday morning’s hearing, prosecutors specified that Ridge was suspected of being high on cocaine and marijuana when she led her children into the woods. Douglas Superior Court Judge William Beau McClain explained to Ridge that she could face a life sentence without parole, or worse, Channel 2 Action News reported.

Ridge could also be sentenced to “death by lethal injection if the state chooses to seek the death penalty,” McClain said.

The judge asked Ridge if she understood the charges, and she responded with a “yes” while staring straight ahead, according to Channel 2. The judge did not grant bail, so Ridge will remain in the Douglas jail for now.

The investigation began when Ridge called for help just before noon Jan. 16, the sheriff’s office said. The resort staff immediately called 911 and deputies responded to the property, where Ridge and her children were found in the woods. Investigators learned they had entered the woods around midnight and all deputies noted that all three were soaking wet.

Deputies immediately rendered first aid and Ridge and her children were taken to the hospital, according to the sheriff’s office. The 3-year-old died from hypothermia and exposure, prosecutors said. Officials did not provide an update on the medical conditions of the 7-year-old or Ridge. Online records show that the woman was booked into the Douglas jail three days after being rescued.

“The consumption of illegal drugs is believed to be the root cause of why Uriha Ridge took her two small children into the woods, minimally clothed, in below-freezing temperatures, and in the rain for more than 11 hours,” the sheriff’s office said.

Authorities noted that Ridge had a charged cellphone the entire time the family was lost. Foxhall Resort’s grounds encompass more than 1,000 acres of “pristine Georgia wilderness,” according to its website.

Ridge is facing two counts of first-degree cruelty to children, two counts of second-degree cruelty to children and felony murder. In addition, she was charged with possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.

The sheriff’s office said the investigation remains active.

Ridge already has an open case in the Douglas Superior Court in which she faces felony child cruelty charges.

In November 2022, she was arrested after she allegedly slapped one of her children in the face while drunk at a bowling alley in Douglasville, according to her arrest warrants. Her charges in that case include counts of first- and second-degree child cruelty, battery-family violence and public drunkenness, and she was released on $5,000 bond.

Court documents revoking that bond indicate that Ridge did not comply with the conditions, which required her to attend a parenting class, attend a therapy program for alcohol, live with her mother and abstain from alcohol. According to the documents, Ridge did not follow any of those conditions and was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving in Cobb County in November.