A missing child story didn’t add up, and Middletown faced a tragic week in the case of 6-year-old James Hutchinson

One week ago, Brittany Gosney and boyfriend James Hamilton walked into the Middletown police headquarters with her two children in tow and a story that 6-year-old James Hutchinson was missing from their Crawford Street house.

Less than 45 minutes later, that house had been locked down by police and detectives as Hamilton filled out a missing person report.

But the Middletown community soon learned the tragic story of what really happened to the Rosa Parks first-grader.

“Malcomb Tipton and Sheoki Reese (of the Middletown Division of Police) knew something didn’t add up right away,” said Middletown Police Chief David Birk.

Officers went to the house with the couple and the young kids to search. Nothing seemed right about the story of Gosney’s young son disappearing from the house on Saturday night, police said. Statements from Gosney and Hamilton conflicted about when they last saw Hutchinson.

Detectives Tom McIntosh and Jon Hoover were tasked with interviewing Gosney and Hamilton. By about 3:20 p.m., Middletown detectives and Preble County Sheriff’s deputies were at Rush Run Wildlife Area off of Ohio 127. That’s where Gosney told police she hit and killed Hutchinson as he clung to her minivan trying to avoid being abandoned in the middle of the night.

According to the Preble County Sheriff’s Office report, Gosney said she was under pressure from Hamilton to get rid of Hutchinson and his two siblings, ages 9 and 7. The 29-year-old mother drove the three children in a 2005 Dodge Caravan to Rush Run to abandon them. Prosecutors believe that happened on Friday, Feb. 26.

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Gosney chose the rural location because she and Hamilton had taken the kids fishing there, according to the Preble County Sheriff’s report.

“Brittany admitted she planned to get the kids out of the vehicle and leave them behind as Hamilton had been pressuring her to get rid of the kids,” Preble County Capt. Andrew Blevins said in the report.

Hutchinson grabbed onto the door handle, and when Gosney slammed the gas trying to leave him, he was dragged and hit, according to law enforcement.

Gosney and Hamilton put Hutchinson’s body in a spare room under a window at the Crawford Street home. At about 3 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 28, they drove down Interstate 275 in the van to the Lawrenceburg, Indiana, area and threw the body into the Ohio River, according to police.

Gosney and Hamilton were indicted on Friday on 31 combined felony charges that allege crimes against all three children, including murder, involuntary manslaughter, gross abuse of a corpse and endangering children for Gosney and kidnapping, gross abuse of a corpse, kidnapping and endangering children for Hamilton.

Birk said detectives executed at least six search warrants since last Sunday.

“They had a lot of electronics, so we have to have warrants for those,” Birk said.

Other search warrants were for the house and the minivan. On Thursday, Middletown Municipal Court Judge James Sherron sealed the search warrants at the request of police.

“After reviewing the search warrant affidavit, and return, the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the presumption of allowing public access is outweighed by (several) factors,” Sherron wrote in the order. Those factors include risk of of injury to persons, individual privacy rights and interests and the fairness of the adjudication process.

Crews were not able to search the Ohio River on most days last week for the body because of the river’s high level, but they were expected to search this weekend after the water crested.

Birk said while Gosney and Hamilton gave conflicting statements about some aspects of the child’s death, the part about dumping the body is the same. Gosney was also given a lie detector test.

“In the beginning they had different statements about when they last saw the child,” Birk said. “But when it comes down to the details of this part (the disposal of the body), it’s identical.”

Finding the boy’s body will help with the cases against Gosney and Hamilton, but murder cases have successfully been prosecuted without a body. Gosney confessed, and there are witnesses in James’ surviving siblings.

Memorials were held for James last week organized by residents and the Middletown school district. Those who could not attend posted photos on social media of candles to remember the boy at their own homes. The memorial outside the boy’s house grew daily throughout the week.

Lewis Hutchinson, James’ father, said he wants justice for his son.

“I don’t know how somebody could be a monster and do something like that to a 6-year-old. And his own mother at that,” Lewis Hutchinson said. “When I was fighting to get him, why didn’t she just give him to me?”

He said James was a loving child.

“He was really funny. He just brought joy to everybody … he was a great kid. He was my world,” Lewis Hutchinson said.

Police initially said Butler County Children Services had been involved with the family in the past, but officials said later that wasn’t the case. Officials say the family moved around a lot and lived in hotels. At her arraignment, Gosney said she was from Dayton and had only lived in Middletown a short time.

“Butler County Children Services had no contact with this family prior to the child’s death,” said Assistant Butler County Prosecutor Dan Ferguson, who is legal counsel for the agency. “Furthermore, other public statements to the contrary regarding children services records concerning the defendants in the Hutchinson case was misinformation as it pertained to Butler County Children Services Agency and constituted an unauthorized statement. Those responsible have been advised not to comment in such matters going forward.”

On Friday, a memorial fund was established to Hutchinson’s siblings, Rachel and Lucas. The city, school district, police department and local faith-based support groups opened the “James You Are Loved” Memorial Fund at First Financial Bank.

All donations received will go to the siblings. The proceeds will not be used for funeral expenses, because arrangements have been donated, officials said.

“Every child is deserving of love,” said Middletown Superintendent Marlon Styles Jr. “As a Middie family, we loved James dearly and we will continue to love Rachel and Lucas. There is hope for a brighter future.”

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