Police: Missing child, 6, killed and put into the Ohio River

Posted at 12:25 PM, March 2, 2021 and last updated 12:22 AM, December 13, 2022

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (SCRIPPS) — About 100 people gathered in Middletown’s Gardner Park Monday to mourn the death of 6-year-old James Hutchinson, whose mother admitted to killing the boy by dragging him with her car and dropping his body in the Ohio River.

Lewis Hutchinson told WCPO his son was one of the kindest, most loving children you could ever meet.

A candlelit memorial for 6-year-old James Hutchinson in Middletown’s Gardner Park. His mother told police she killed the boy by dragging him with her car as she tried to abandon him in a Preble County park and later dropped his body in the Ohio River. (Matthew Wood, WCPO)

“He always loved to give hugs to people and everything. He was a great kid,” he said, adding that when James walked into the room — no matter the mood — he never failed to bring a smile to everyone around him.

“He just brought joy to everybody,” he said.

Hutchinson, now only beginning to process his son’s death, said he will never understand how anyone could have hurt a child like this.

“I don’t see how an animal could do that,” he said. “That’s not a person in my eyes.”

The boy’s mother, Brittany Gosney, told Middletown Police she drove James and her two other children to a park in Preble County. She said she tried to abandon the first grader at the park, but James held onto her car as she drove away. She dragged the boy until he let go, and when she returned to the park 30 minutes later, he was dead.

Then, Gosney told police, she took his body home and discarded it later in the Ohio River near Lawrenceburg, Indiana. She and her boyfriend, James Hamilton, reported the boy missing. Both were arrested and taken to Butler County Jail, and authorities are still searching for the boy’s body in the river.

Brittany Gosney (Middleton Division of Police)

“I want them both to rot,” Hutchinson said. “That’s what I want.”

“A child looks for comfort in his mom,” said vigil organizer Melody Vassas. “Your mom is supposed to be your superhero.”

Vassas said she organized Monday’s ceremony to remember James and show that children in danger are not alone.

“I’m tired of seeing all these ‘Rest In Peace’ signs for these kids. There has to be something we can do,” she said.

Hutchinson says while it’s too late to save his son, he’s holding out hope the case will change things for others.

“I want justice for him,” Hutchinson said. “That’s what I want.”

This story was first published by Kristen Swilley at WCPO in Cincinnati, Ohio.