The Babysitter's Story

A Toddler's Death Is Investigated

Chris Routh, 16, is the kind of kid you'd like to have living next door.

"I don't mean to toot my own horn, but I was a good kid," he says. "I was an 'A' student. I never broke any laws or anything. Never got into any trouble at school. I don't think I've ever lost my temper in my life. I'm a very calm-mannered, very mellow guy."

Now, this mild-mannered teenager is about to find out if he will spend the rest of his life living in prison.

His mother, Sissy Routh, says: "I think this was a series of tragedies that fell one upon another. And I think that Christopher happens to be the person who was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Chris stands accused of sexually assaulting 23-month-old Emily Woodruff, and then shaking the toddler to death.

It doesn't get any worse than that.

The fate of Sissy and Charlie Routh's son rests in the hands of 12 strangers in a jury box. "I try to be as realistic as I can that they may not see it our way," Sissy says. "But I'll fight forever to prove that he's innocent."

It seemed at the time to be a perfectly safe babysitting agreement between two families. "I just shudder when any of my friends talk about their children babysitting, because we know what can happen," Sissy now says. "It can take away your whole life."

Lawrenceville, Georgia, is a picture-perfect small suburban town about 40 minutes outside of Atlanta.

Charlie is a professional photographer. Daughter Emily plays soccer on Saturdays. And there's football for Chris. Sissy runs a children's clothing store right off the town square.

One day, in the Spring of 2000, a mother of two walked into Sissy's store after seeing a "help wanted" sign in the window. Her name was Kim Woodruff.

Sissy hired Kim for the job, and over time they became friends. "It was almost like a family business, and she was part of the family," Sissy says.

Kim and her husband, Lewis, were raising two toddlers, 3-year-old Hunter and Emily, almost two years old. The Woodruffs felt especially lucky to have these two kids. They'd been through years of fertility problems before Hunter came along. Just three months after that miracle baby, Kim became pregnant again, with Emily.

Like many working families, the Woodruffs had day-care issues. Lewis travels for his job selling paint spray guns. Kim was working full time at Sissy Routh's store. The Woodruffs needed a babysitter they could trust.

They needed someone like Chris Routh. Chris recalls that when Kim asked him if he wanted to baby-sit for her children, he thought, "Well, that'd be pretty neat."

Chris began to baby-sit for the Woodruffs on a regular basis, taking care of Hunter and Emily at the Woodruff's house. "I love kids," he says. "I've always watched kids and loved being around kids."

Everyone was happy with the way it was working. "I'd watched him interact with them, and they seemed to like him," Kim says.

But then, on July 25, 2001, something terrible happened to Emily Woodruff. In a 911 call, Chris is heard saying, "My 2-year-old's not breathing. I'm baby-sitting for her and she's not breathing…"

That night, his parents were watching the 11 o'clock news. It was reported that the police were looking for Christopher Scott Routh, and that he was suspected of murder and child molestation.

The Day Of The Tragedy

The Babysitter Goes To Trial