The mother of the 21-year-old Culver woman who was murdered in August of 2021 is speaking out about the grief and injustice her family has endured since the tragic event.
Diana Soucy will never forget August 30, 2021, the day that would change her and her family's life forever. Remembering the visit from Fulton County Sheriff Chris Sailors and two of his deputies, late that evening, Soucy would awaken to hear every parent's worst nightmare - her oldest daughter, Cheyenne Ruttschaw, was gone.
According to court documents, Fulton County emergency personnel responded to a rural Culver residence on August 30, regarding an unconscious person that was not breathing. Although lifesaving efforts were attempted, the victim was pronounced dead at the scene, and was later identified as Cheyenne P. Ruttschaw.
Fulton County Sheriff officers at the scene reported noticing Ruttschaw with many injuries in various stages of healing, including a swollen and possibly sprained ankle, black eyes, and several cuts and abrasions. That same day, a Fulton County detective with Indiana State Police troopers interviewed the other people who were at the home when the crime occured.
Multiple witnesses claimed that Ruttschaw had fallen down a set of stairs inside the home, causing her to be unresponsive. They also said Ruttschaw was away from the residence for several days prior to the incident and had just returned on Aug. 30, 2021.
The forensic pathologist for her autopsy determined Ruttschaw's injuries were not self-inflicted, and had even included finding a foreign object lodged in the victims throat. Ruttschaw's cause of death was determinded to be a homicide caused from multiple blunt force injuries.
Court documents revealed that two months later, on Oct 26, Christina Marie Mendoza, 27, who also lived at the residence was interviewed by investigators and initially charged with aggravated battery, a level 3 felony; and involuntary manslaughter, a level 5 felony. On that same day, ISP assisted Fulton County officers with a search warrant of the home, finding the five adults previously interviewed by officers, and around eight children.
The story would later change. When asked about her initial story in 2021, where she claimed she hit Ruttschaw in the head while showering, Mendoza said she made the story up out of fear of the Compton residence and felt safer in jail.
After further investigation, more than a year later in October and November of 2022, six more people were arrested for Ruttschaw's death.
Daniel Martin Compton, 34, 9163 W. 700N, Culver, 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.
Krystal Lee Compton, 32; Martha E. Gonzales; Michael L. Richcreek, 33; and Michael A. Soliday, 44, all of 9163 W. 700N, Culver; and Constance M. Hall, 30, 519 W. 8th St., Rochester; are each charged with false informing, a class A misdemeanor.
Soucy says it saddens her that two of her family members are among those arrested in the home, accused of turning a blind eye and covering up the murder of her daughter.
When interviewed in February, Mendoza disclosed a different story to officials about what happened the night of Ruttschaw’s death, stating she was not the one who killed Ruttschaw. Instead, Mendoza claimed Daniel did, after having been allegedly upset with Ruttschaw that day.
Mendoza claimed that as she held down the victim, Daniel put his foot on Ruttschaw's neck with all of his weight, applying pressure.
By the time Daniel finally removed his foot, Ruttschaw was unconsious and not breathing. Mendoza said Daniel then immediately started brainstorming a story, gathering the others in the home to get their stories straight before calling 911. That's when the group had decided to tell officers that Ruttschaw had 'ran away,' recently and returned home injured. Mendoza did claim responsibility for several of Ruttschaw's injuries, but said she was instructed to do so by the Comptons, saving Mendoza from being beat herself.
Sentenced on December 13 at the Fulton County Courthouse, Mendoza was given 12 years, with six years suspended and six years probation in cooperation to testify against the others.
Soucy said she forgives Mendoza, who she felt was just as much of a victim of Daniel Compton as her daughter was.
Losing her life at just 21 years of age, Ruttschaw's mother says the 'what if's' do creep into her mind often about her daughter. Would she have gotten married? Had kids? Found a career she loved? The list goes on.
Soucy says she will always remember her daughter for her kind heart and patience with her siblings. One thing Soucy struggles with is seeing the pain her younger children have over the loss of their sister, something the family takes one day at a time.
Having a passion for drawing, Ruttschaw will never be able to pursue that art career, but her mother keeps her drawings close to her in memory of her daughter. Some art even closer than others, with a tattoo inspired by Ruttchaw's work on Soucy's forearm.
Although no amount of justice can bring back her daughter, Soucy hopes others in the community can use Ruttschaw's story as inspiration to not take abusive situations lightly.