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Cause of 2-year-old boy's death still 'undetermined'

By Sam Penrod | Posted - Sep 5th, 2013 @ 6:22pm

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RIVER HEIGHTS, Cache County — The mystery surrounding the death of a 2-year-old boy continued Thursday.

An autopsy conducted Thursday on the body of Eli Rutchey listed the cause of death as "undetermined," according to the Cache County Sheriff's Office. Results from toxicology and pathology tests were still pending.

The toddler was found dead in his home in River Heights Wednesday. But investigators weren't sure if his death was the result of a tragic accident or a homicide.

"We're treating this case as a homicide. We have to do that with every unattended death until the medical examiner tells us it's not. We'd do that with every death," said Cache County Sheriff's Lt. Chad Jensen.

The investigation began when Heidi Rutchey, 42, arrived at Logan Regional Hospital about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. There were no obvious signs of trauma, but there was something about her condition, as well as questions about the welfare of her son, that prompted hospital staff to call police, Jensen said.

Rutchey, whose condition was not known Thursday, was eventually transported to Intermountain Medical Center in Murray for an evaluation.

However, investigators said they have ruled out carbon monoxide as the reason his mother was sick or why the boy died.

Sheriff's deputies were sent to the woman's house where the boy's body was found. Jensen could not comment on the condition of the boy's house or where in the house the boy was found, saying it was part of the evidence. He said the mother and child were the only people who lived there.

Neighbors who know Heidi Rutchey said they have a hard time believing she would do anything to intentionally harm her son.

"Anytime she met somebody new with her kid, she was like, 'This is my boy,' " said neighbor Nash Cleaveland. "The only thing I can imagine at all is that it was an accident. She stopped paying attention for a second and that is the only thing I can imagine in my head about Heidi."

A search warrant to go through the rest of the house was scheduled to be served late Thursday, according to the sheriff's office.


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