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Haggins dies in jail

Thursday, September 21, 2006

(Photo)
SHANE HAGGINS
A Mammoth Spring man charged with murdering a 17-month-old girl in April was found dead inside his cell in the Sharp County Jail Sept. 13.

Shane Buckshot Haggins, 30, was found hanging inside his cell by jail personnel at 6:02 a.m. An apparent suicide note was found inside the cell. Police are not releasing what the note said.

Wendall Jines, special agent with the Arkansas State Police, said Haggins was not on suicide watch. Jailers check inmates every hour on the hour, he said.

Jines would not say what Haggins hanged himself with or what the note said. No foul play is suspected, but the body will be sent to the state medical examiner's office for an autopsy.

Haggins had been in the Sharp County Jail since April 14, the day of the child's funeral, on a capital murder charge for his alleged role in the April 7 beating death of Lauren Rutledge. He was being held without bond.

Haggins immediately became a suspect in the death. The child's mother, Casey Elliott Rutledge, was also named as a "person of interest" in the case, but charges were never filed against her.

Haggins stayed the night with Rutledge on the living room sofa of the home she shared with her five children April 6. The next morning Haggins watched Lauren and her 7-month-old brother while Rutledge and another daughter took the oldest two children to school.

When Rutledge was on her way home around 8:20 a.m. she met Haggins coming from her home driving his mother's car. He told her he had to go to work, but he had no job, Rutledge said.

It wasn't until Rutledge went to feed her 7-month-old that she noticed something was wrong -- Lauren wasn't breathing, Jines said.

Rutledge called the children's father, John Rutledge, and told him Lauren was dead, Jines said. She then called 9-1-1, which reached Fulton County, although the home on Tonto Circle lies in Sharp County, he said.

Officers and emergency personnel arrived at the home soon after and began trying to resuscitate Lauren. She was pronounced dead at Fulton County Hospital at 10:40 a.m.

The cause of Lauren's death has been determined to be severe blunt force trauma with depressed fractures to the back of her skull, linear fractures to her frontal skull, partial disarticulation of the atlanto-occipital joint and multiple acute superficial blunt force injuries, according to the medical examiner's report. The injuries were likely inflicted a short time before her death, during the minutes she spent with Haggins while her mother drove her siblings to school, according to the report.

Haggins was arrested April 8 for a parole violation in Fulton County and remained in custody until charges were filed against him in Sharp County. He was then transferred to Ash Flat.

Haggins told investigators he left the Rutledge home April 6 between 9:30 and 10 p.m. and arrived at the home he shares with his wife around midnight, Jines said. He said he never returned to Rutledge's home and denied watching the children or having any involvement in Lauren's death.

Haggins had a history of violence toward children. The Phillips County Circuit Court convicted him Sept. 22, 2000, of second degree battery to an 18-month-old boy. The boy suffered numerous injuries including internal bleeding, a skull fracture, a lacerated liver, and facial, head, neck and back injuries, Jines said. Haggins received a six-year sentence but was released on parole in April 2001.



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