MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — 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.
"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.
“I want them both to rot,” Hutchinson said. “That’s what I want.”
MORE: ‘Red flags all over' in death of 6-year-old killed by mother, chief says
"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."
A celebration of James Hutchinson's life will be held at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday at Barnitz Stadium in Middletown.