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Cache Valley mom in court for allegedly killing son

Published November 21, 2013 2:37 pm

Courts • Preliminary hearing continued so defendant can hire a private investigator.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Logan • A preliminary hearing for a woman whose 2-year-old son was found dead in their River Heights home in September was delayed Thursday.

Heidi Marie Rutchey, 42, is charged in Logan's 1st District Court with first-degree felony murder, punishable by up to life in prison.

On Thursday, her attorney, David Perry, asked Judge Thomas Willmore to continue the hearing so he has time to hire a private investigator.

The judge granted the continuance, and reset the preliminary hearing for Dec. 12.

Rutchey, who appeared in court Thursday wearing a pink jail jumpsuit and her arm in a sling, asked a number of questions of the judge regarding her rights to a speedy trial.

"This is all new to me, this kind of thing," Rutchey said. "It's a serious thing and I don't get to talk to my attorney very often … I'd just like to go to trial as soon as we can."

Rutchey was charged in late October after more than a month of investigation into the death of her son, Eli.

An "extensive investigation" by the medical examiner revealed that the toddler died from suffocation or "some kind of airway interruption," according to a probable cause statement filed with the court.

Cache County sheriff's deputies discovered the boy's death on Sept. 4, shortly after the mother went to Logan Regional Hospital seeking emergency medical treatment for herself for "a number of medical issues," according to the sheriff's office.

Forensic tests later determined that Eli had already been dead a week or more.

When hospital staff learned that she had a child, they were concerned for his well-being and sent law enforcement officers to check on him. Court documents say the boy died as early as Aug. 27.

While at the hospital, the mother was distraught, court documents state. She called herself a "baby killer" and told hospital personnel that "something terrible has happened" and "he suffocated in the tub."

Rutchey remained hospitalized for several weeks before her arrest.

After she was taken into custody, Rutchey told officers she had suffocated her son by placing her hand over his mouth and nose, the probable cause statement states. She had then tried to kill herself by overdosing on medication.

At the end of Thursday's hearing, Willmore advised Rutchey that she should not be speaking to law enforcement while she is behind bars.

Rutchey had said that the investigator in the case had told her she could all him anytime to talk.

"You should be not be asking to talk to police officers," Willmore said. "You have an attorney, you should not talk to any police officers."

Earlier this month, the judge refused to lower Rutchey's $100,000 bail.

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller