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Three Years After A Mother's Confession, Mental Health Question Remains

Cache County Sheriff's Office
Heidi Rutchey was arrested in October of 2013.

Nearly four years after being arrested in connection with her two-year-old son’s death, Heidi Rutchey’s mental state at the time of the incident remains undetermined; while attorneys work toward resolution, she will stay at the Utah State Hospital.

Rutchey was arrested in October 2013, now more than three years ago, after her two-year-old son was found dead in her River Heights apartment.

After being taken into custody, Rutchey told officers she had suffocated her son by holding her hand over his mouth and nose, which is consistent with the probable cause determined by forensic evaluations.

Rutchey was placed in the Utah State Hospital in January of 2014, in hopes to rehabilitate her to competence to stand trial.

After a year of treatment, she was found still incompetent to stand trial. During an evaluation, she told the judge she had information about Palestine, and asked that the FBI be called. She was returned to the hospital.

During an evaluation in early November 2016, she was ruled competent. Since then, her case has centered around her mental state at the time of her son’s death. In January of this year, she pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity; as her case continues, experts have not reached a decision.

After her son’s death, Rutchey attempted suicide by overdosing on medication. One doctor in her case said she appeared to have had psychotic symptoms at the time of the incident, potentially related to untreated bipolar disorder; another concluded that while she suffered from mental illness, her impairment was moderate, and insufficient to support her defense.

When she appeared in court on Monday, Judge Thomas Willmore determined that attorneys would have another week to work toward a resolution. Because Rutchey has been found competent to stand trial, she would normally be held in the Cache County Jail until her next court date.

In May, Deseret News reported that the wait for one of the Utah State Hospital’s beds is an average of five months long. Despite the ongoing struggle to open beds for inmates in need of mental health treatment, Willmore ruled that because the potential resolution of her case was so near, Rutchey would spend one more week in the hospital rather than being moved to the Cache County Jail. Rutchey will appear in court again on July 3.