Mother, boyfriend listed as "persons of interest"
A Cherokee Village mother and her boyfriend have been listed as "persons of interest" in the investigation of the death of the woman's 17-month-old girl. The baby died April 7.
The child's mother, Casey Rutledge, 26, has been questioned by police. Fulton County authorities arrested her boyfriend, Shane Haggins, 31, of Mammoth Spring for a parole violation Saturday night. Neither Rutledge nor Haggins had been arrested or charged in the death as of press time April 10.
Cherokee Village Police Chief Scott Goodwin said the two have not been named as suspects in the case that is being investigated as a possible homicide. The body has been sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab for an autopsy.
"We still haven't got a preliminary cause of death from the crime lab yet," said Sgt. Stan Witt of the Arkansas State Police. "Until we get those results back we are treating this case as a homicide."
Rutledge's daughter, Lauren Rutledge, was found dead in the home she shared with her mother and four siblings. The baby had bruising on the right forehead, right eye, right temple, right upper cheek and the left side of her jaw, Sgt. K.C. Shultz said. Rutledge called 9-1-1 just before 9 a.m. Friday and told dispatchers her "baby is dead."
Sgt. K.C. Shultz and Goodwin went to the home on Tonto Circle. When they arrived officers saw Rutledge sitting in a rocking chair holding the baby in her arms.
"I approached Mrs. Rutledge and attempted to touch the child to check for a pulse," Shultz said. "Mrs. Rutledge pulled the child closer and said 'She's gone, she's already dead, she's blue.' I then felt the skin on her arms, back and sides and could feel the child was still very warm."
Shultz lay the child on the floor and performed rescue breathing and chest compressions until Spring River Paramedic Ambulance Service personnel arrived.
When questioned later, Rutledge told police Haggins was leaving the home when she returned from taking her two oldest children to school.
"Rutledge stated that Haggins told her he was going to work," Shultz said. "Rutledge later stated that Haggins does not have a job."
She also said Haggins has a history of "beating on kids" and had stolen money from her in the past, Shultz said.
Personnel with the Department of Human Services took custody of Rutledge's four other children.
Arkansas State Police and Sharp County investigators are assisting in the case.