MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — Brittany Gosney and James Hamilton couldn’t agree on when they had last seen Gosney’s 6-year-old son, James Hutchinson, when they reported him missing Sunday morning. Maybe it was Friday morning. Maybe it had been Saturday night.
This was unusual, Middletown police chief Maj. David Birk said Monday afternoon. Most parents of missing children report within a few hours.
“The whole situation was just red flags all over,” he said.
Two arrests and a confession later, police charged Gosney with killing her son, concealing his body in her home and discarding it in the Ohio River. Hamilton, her boyfriend, stands charged with abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence.
According to court documents, Gosney drove from Middletown to Preble County, Ohio, with her three children on Friday and tried to abandon Hutchinson — a first-grader described by his principal as a “happy and joyful soul” — in Rush Run Park.
He tried to hold on to her car as she drove away, according to court documents. Gosney dragged him until he let go.
She told police she returned to the park 30 minutes later and discovered him dead in the parking lot.
Birk said police hope finding Hutchinson’s body will help them learn more about exactly how he died. Until an autopsy can be performed, a 30-minute gap exists between the moment Hutchinson let go of the car and the moment his mother claimed to have come back.
“We don’t understand it either,” Birk said of Gosney’s motives. “That’s something that she can only answer, and again — conflicting stories back and forth.”
He added that Gosney indicated she had planned to abandon all three of her children but left only Hutchinson in the lot.
After her son’s death, Gosney picked up his body and drove to 507 Crawford Street in Middletown, where she lives with Hamilton. She kept the body in an upstairs bedroom until the next day, when she drove an hour away to Lawrenceburg, Indiana, and dumped it in the Ohio River, police said.
The body had not been recovered by Monday afternoon.
“Most of our officers have kids,” Birk said. “My kids are much older, but this has really touched my soul and my heart. … Poor 6-year-old has no idea what’s going on and what’s happening, and for the other kids to go through this, too, it’s just heartbreaking.”
Gosney had periodic interactions with children’s and family services in the past, according to Birk; her children were in and out of Middletown City Schools, and their family occasionally lived in hotels.
Hutchinson’s two siblings, both of whom were second-graders, have been removed from Gosney’s care and placed with a foster family. A fourth child, over whom Gosney lost custody prior to Hutchinson’s death, has been in the care of the state for some time.
Birk said Hamilton had been cooperative when questioned by police, but Gosney showed little remorse.
Hutchinson was a first-grader at Rosa Parks Elementary School, where principal Tracy Neeley described him as a happy, outgoing student.
"We are all mourning the loss of our friend James today," she wrote in a statement Monday morning. "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."
Gosney and Hamilton are both being held on bond at the Middletown City Jail.