PIERCE TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Melinda Hutchins stood outside On the Green at Royal Oaks apartments for hours Friday night, begging police for news of her son. Jeffrey Hutchins, 24, and his friend Nicholas Hudson, 20, were supposed to stop at the complex that night and then come back home.
They were shot to death just before midnight. Melinda Hutchins knows the suspect.
“The guy that killed my son was supposed to have been Jeffrey’s friend,” she said Monday. “He was at my house less than two weeks ago. He was at my house.”
Craig Walker, 25, stands charged with two counts of aggravated murder in connection to the other men’s deaths. He will appear Dec. 3 in Clermont County court for a preliminary hearing. In the meantime, he will remain in the Clermont County Jail on a $1 million bond.
Hutchins said she heard there had been an argument in the apartment before her son was killed, but she didn’t know what it had been about.
She spent the weekend after the devastating discovery with her best friend, Rhonda Gatts.
“I flew to her as fast as I could, and I took her and stayed with her the whole time,” Gatts said Monday.
Hutchins added: “I don’t know what I would have done without her there.”
She described her son as a charismatic young man with a kind, giving heart and encouraged other parents to stay close with their children.
“You never know when they’re going to be gone, and you don’t want to feel the pain I’m feeling,” she said. “The last word I got to say was ‘I love you, bub. Come home safe.’ And he never came home, and he’s never going to come home.”
Earlier this year, 23-year-old Wade Winn shot two Clermont County deputies at the same apartment complex during a 12-hour police standoff. Detective Bill Brewer died of his injuries in February, and Winn was sentenced to life in prison as part of a plea deal to avoid the death penalty.
Hutchins said she was daunted by the prospect of paying for her son's funeral. She set up a donation page on Facebook to help cover the cost.