A Middletown woman drove to a Preble County wildlife area last week to abandon her 6-year-old son and possibly his siblings but ran over him and killed him when he tried to get back in the car, according to police and court records.
Brittany Gosney, 29, of the 500 block of Crawford Street, is charged with murder, abuse of corpse and tampering with evidence for the death of her child, James Robert Hutchinson. Her boyfriend, James Hamilton, 42, is charged with abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence.
They are accused of moving the boy’s body back to Middletown after his death in Preble County, driving it to Indiana and disposing of it in the Ohio River on Saturday.
During arraignment Monday in Middletown Municipal Court, Judge James Sherron set Gosney’s bond at $1 million and Hamilton’s bond at $105,000. They are housed in the Middletown City Jail.
Gosney and Hamilton reported Hutchinson missing about 10:15 a.m. Sunday, but Middletown Police Chief David Birk said detectives were suspicious of the story, especially because Gosney said he had been missing for hours.
Middletown police posted to Facebook on Sunday morning at about 11 a.m., 45 minutes after receiving Gosney’s bogus report, they were looking for Hutchinson. He was described as last being seen in the area of Crawford Street and 3 feet tall and 42 pounds. The post indicated he was last seen wearing a red shirt and red Batman pajama pants.
Further questioning by detectives led to her arrest and admission the boy was dead.
“The defendant admitted to taking her child to Rush Run in Preble County where she placed him outside of her vehicle. Defendant said she was going to leave the child in the park,” Detective Jon Hoover wrote in the court documents.
The boy attempted to get back in the vehicle, and Gosney told police she sped off, dragging James “for a distance.”
Gosney told police she left the park and returned about 30 to 40 minutes later and found the boy in the middle of the parking lot with a head injury. He was dead, police said.
“(Gosney) stated she picked the child up, put him back in the vehicle and drove back (to her residence) where she took the child in the house and placed him in an upstairs bedroom,” the complaint states.
The following day she and Hamilton drove to a location on I-275 in Lawrenceburg, Ind., and disposed of the boy’s body in the Ohio River, according to police.
Birk said two of the boy’s siblings, a boy and girl under the age of 10, were in the vehicle when James was struck, and it appears she may have been trying to leave all three of her children.
“I don’t know if she had a plan,” Birk said.
Hamilton admitted to police he kept the boy’s body in the Crawford Street house and then took part in disposing of it in the Ohio River, according to court documents filed by Hoover.
“The mother is not showing much remorse at this time, but she has confessed to doing this, we will know more once James is recovered and we can do an autopsy,” Birk said.
He said there are conflicting stories from Gosney and Hamilton. Police believe that sometime Saturday night after the other kids fell asleep, the co-defendants drove James’ body to the Ohio River. Officials are continuing to search for the body.
“We will be working with trained searchers in an attempt to recover James’s body,” police said. “The river is very high and treacherous, so we will not be disclosing the exact location in hopes of avoiding another tragic incident.”
Birk said county Children Services had been involved with the family in the past. James’ siblings have now been placed in foster care.
James was a first-grader at Rosa Parks Elementary School, and Middletown Schools officials said grief counselors were available on Monday. They are planning a vigil for him at 6:45 p.m. today at Barnitz Stadium.
The boy was described as “joyful” and a student who greeted Rosa Parks’ teachers each school day with a hug.
“We are all mourning the loss of our friend James today,” Tracey Neeley, principal of the school, said in a statement.
“James was a happy and joyful soul who loved school. On the days he was in class, he would give hugs to all his teachers as he walked into school.
“A fun memory I have is the way his face would light up when he won the lucky lunch tray. First-graders can find the joy in just about anything. I will always remember his bright joy.”
Middletown Schools Superintendent Marlon Styles Jr. said in the message sent to all families in the 6,300-student school system “my heart breaks writing this letter informing the Middletown school district of the tragic loss of one of our Rosa Parks Elementary students.”
“During this difficult time, I know our Middie Family will lean on one another while our community mourns. Our community always finds strength when we come together and I know we will come together for James,” said Styles.
The story so far
Brittany Gosney and James Hamilton, her boyfriend, are charged in connection to the death of 6-year-old James Robert Hutchinson.
She told police she ran over James while trying to abandon him at a Preble County Park.
The couple said they drove his body to Indiana and dropped it in the Ohio River.
Gosney reported the boy missing on Sunday morning. Once questioned by police, they both confessed to the crimes.
Officials were continuing to search for James on Monday.