Pacemaker could hold key in arson case

Data obtained from a man's pacemaker could be key to an Ohio arson investigation.

Story highlights

  • Suspect has a history of coronary issues and had been fitted with a pacemaker
  • Blaze caused $400,000 in damage to the home and its contents

(CNN)A lifesaving medical device could end up putting a man accused of arson behind bars.

Ross Compton's Middletown, Ohio, house nearly burnt to the ground on September 19, 2016. The 59-year-old told investigators that he was sleeping when the fire started.
Compton claimed he was able to pack some items in a bag and climb out of his bedroom window to escape the flames, Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said.
But the story didn't add up -- and a crafty investigator realized that the key to the case might be data recorded by the suspect's pacemaker.
"He told police about his medical problems and kept saying 'woe is me' and someone had that eureka moment to get that search warrant for his pacemaker," Gmoser said.
Gmoser said the "brilliance" of the investigation was the use of his pacemaker to build a case.

Prosecutor: Suspect claimed he was asleep

Compton "had claimed he was asleep, but the pacemaker showed he was active," said Gmoser.
A cardiologist who reviewed data pulled from the pacemaker determined that it did not support Compton's account.
"It is highly improbable Mr. Compton would have been able to collect, pack and remove the number of items from the house, exit his bedroom window and carry numerous large and heavy items to the front of his residence during the short period of time he has indicated due to his medical conditions," the doctor said in court documents obtained by CNN affiliate WHIO.
The fire caused about $400,000 in damage to the structure and contents of the 2,000-square-foot home, Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Spaulding told WHIO.
Compton was indicted Tuesday on charges of aggravated arson and insurance fraud. CNN was unable to reach his court-appointed attorney for comment on the case.