Archive for Thursday, June 29, 2006

Woman charged with murder commits suicide

June 29, 2006

Lansing Police Chief Steve Wayman was proud of the work officers had done to bring about justice in last week's death in Lansing of a 7-year-old Raytown, Mo., boy.

A slew of Lansing officers, working in tandem with Leavenworth County Attorney Frank Kohl, had compiled an inch-and-a-half-thick file report that pointed to Aaron Hutson's parental custodian -- his 44-year-old grandmother -- as his killer. The evidence gathered through nearly a week of painstaking investigation, Wayman thought, would prove the boy didn't die from falling down a flight of stairs on June 20 as the grandmother contended.

At 12:58 p.m. Tuesday, Kohl said, single charges of first-degree murder, abuse of a child and two counts of aggravated intimidation of a witness or victim were filed against 44-year-old Carolyn A. Cattin, also of Raytown.

Cattin, however, never made it to a first court appearance scheduled for 3 p.m. Tuesday, at which time she was to have surrendered to authorities.

"We were notified within about an hour of (charges being filed) that she had apparently committed suicide," Kohl said.

Roger Horsky, a Leavenworth attorney representing Cattin, said his client and her husband were attending a counseling session early Tuesday afternoon in Kansas City, Mo., and were expected to drive later that afternoon to Leavenworth for the court appearance.

"It's my understanding they were in that session when she excused herself, went into a hall bathroom and shot herself," said Horsky, who called the suicide "very shocking and totally unexpected."

Officer Darin Snapp of the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department said the suicide occurred about 1:15 p.m. Tuesday at a medical office complex on Ward Parkway.

Kohl said it's not the first time he's been involved when a person charged with a crime has taken his or her life.

"It's an unusual occurrence, but it's not unheard of," Kohl said.

He said the case against Cattin was sound.

"The child died of severe multiple blunt trauma to the head and body. ...There was evidence available to us to tie her to the infliction of that abuse on him," Kohl said.

The intimidation charges were linked to threats allegedly made against the dead boy's sisters.

Cattin's husband, Patrick J. Cattin, 46, also of Raytown, has been charged with aiding a felon and is in custody in Jackson County, Mo., awaiting extradition to Kansas to face the Leavenworth County charge.

Horsky said Wednesday morning he had been in contact with another relative who told him Patrick Cattin would waive extradition.

Wayman, whose department led the investigation into Hutson's death, said authorities had questions from the start of their probe.

Hutson, his two sisters, ages 5 and 8, and Cattin were in Lansing visiting Cattin's father on June 20, Wayman said. During that visit, police were called to a residence in the 400 block of Caraway Place, where they found the boy unresponsive to medical attention. He was pronounced dead a short time later at St. John Hospital in Leavenworth.

Police were told the boy fell down a flight of stairs, but an autopsy showed he died from blunt trauma to the head and abdomen, Kohl said, declining to offer specifics about the boy's injuries.

The investigation, Wayman said, proved police were right to question the events surrounding Hutson's death.

"From an investigative side, I'm overly happy," Wayman said. "It's nice to know there's a committed bunch of people here who can look at the evidence, and within seven days of beginning an investigation of this magnitude can get a case to the county attorney."

The Cattins were the legal custodians of Aaron Hutson and his 5- and 8-year-old sisters. The two girls are in the custody of the Missouri Department of Social Services, Kohl said.

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