A 14 year sentence has been handed out to a man connected in the death of 21-year-old Cheyenne Ruttschaw, who was found dead in a Culver home in 2021.
According to court documents, Daniel Compton, 36, pled guilty to Aggravated Battery when the assault poses a substantial risk of death, a Level 3 felony. On January 31, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Greg Heller sentenced Compton to 14 years in the Indiana Department of Corrections, with four years suspended. Compton was also ordered to pay $2,400 in restitution to Ruttschaw's family.
Police reports show that on August 30, 2021, Fulton County emergency personnel responded to a rural Culver residence regarding an unconscious person that was not breathing. Although lifesaving efforts were attempted, the victim was pronounced dead at the scene and was soon identified as Ruttschaw.
It was reported that Fulton County Sheriff's officers at the scene had noticed Ruttschaw had many injuries in various stages of healing, including a swollen and possibly sprained ankle, black eyes, and several cuts and abrasions.
During her autopsy, a forensic pathologist would determine Ruttschaw's injuries were not self-inflicted, and had even found a foreign object lodged in Ruttschaw's throat.
Others in the home were interviewed by detectives from the Fulton County Sheriff's Department and Indiana State Police. Multiple witnesses claimed Ruttschaw had fallen down a set of stairs inside the home, causing her to be unresponsive. They also stated that Ruttschaw was away from the residence for several days prior, and had just returned.
Nearly two months after Ruttschaw's death ISP assisted the Fulton County Sheriff's officers with a search warrant of the residence, finding seven adults who had been previously interviewed by officers, and around eight children. Among those interviewed was Christina Mendoza, 27, who had also been a resident in the home. Mendoza was initially charged with aggravated battery and involuntary manslaughter after she claimed she hit Ruttschaw in the head while she showered.
Mendoza's story would change and she would later claim that she made the story up out of fear of the Compton residence, and in particular, Daniel Compton. Mendoza claimed she had felt safer in jail. After further investigation and more than a year after Ruttschaw's death, six more people were arrested.
Among those six people, Compton was charged with aggravated battery, a Level 3 felony; involuntary manslaughter, a Level 5 felony; strangulation, a Level 6 felony; and false informing, a Class A misdemeanor.
In early 2023, Mendoza confided in officials about what had happened the night of Ruttschaw’s death. Mendoza claimed that she was not the one who killed Ruttschaw. In her statement, Mendoza claimed that she had, however, held Ruttschaw down as Compton had put his foot on Ruttschaw's neck with all of his weight, applying pressure. By the time Compton had finally removed his foot, Ruttschaw was unconsious and not breathing. Mendoza did claim responsibility for several of Ruttschaw's injuries, but said she was instructed to do so by Compton, saving Mendoza from being beat herself.
After Ruttschaw stopped breathing, Mendoza claimed that Compton immediately gathered the others who lived in the home and started brainstorming a story. Mendoza said Compton got the group to agree to tell officers that Ruttschaw had ran away and recently returned home injured.
Mendoza was eventually sentenced at the Fulton County Courthouse to 12 years, with six years suspended and six years probation, in cooperation to testify against the others.
Diana Soucy, Ruttschaw's mother, said she is relieved that her daughter's death has gotten some kind of justice now that Compton has now been sentenced.
Soucy also said she forgave Mendoza, who Saucy felt was just as much of a victim of Compton as her daughter was.
Soucy said although no amount of justice can ever bring her daughter back, she is happy that Compton was held accountable for what he had done.