Arsonist's Heart Wasn't in It; Pacemaker Data Leads to His Arrest

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on February 07, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

When you tell police that you threw packed suitcases of your belongings out of your burning home, after breaking the glass out of your bedroom window with a walking stick, and also tell them you have an artificial heart, they may be a little skeptical. In fact, they might ask to see some of the data from that electronic heart monitor, you know, just to check on your heart rate before, during, and after that fire.

And when a cardiologist tells cops that it was "highly improbable" that you could pull off such a feat considering the pacemaker and its data, they might go ahead and arrest you for arson.

Pacemaker Snitches

Ross Compton told a 911 operator that he "grabbed a bunch of stuff, threw it out the window" after a fire broke out in his Middletown, Ohio home. According to Middletown police, Compton said he was able to pack his suitcases, break the glass on his bedroom window, and throw the suitcases out to safety. Compton also told that 911 dispatcher he had an artificial heart.

Police were able to collect electronic data stored in Compton's electronic heart device, giving them his heart rate, pacer demand, and cardiac rhythms before, during, and after the fire. That info didn't match Compton's story, and after running it by a cardiologist, they charged Compton with aggravated arson and insurance fraud.


Compton, who appeared in court today to face those charges, told Judge Charles Pater, "Your honor, that fire took everything." He had also previously asserted to WLWT in Cincinnati, "I had no motive whatsoever to burn down my own house."

WLWT also reports Compton has no assets, has been on disability since 2002, and police found gasoline on Compton's shirt, pants and shoes. Officers also found points of origin for the fire in his home, but the heart monitor data was essential, according to Lt. Jimmy Cunningham: "It was one of the key pieces of evidence that allowed us to charge him."

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