Middletown schools to host celebration of life ceremony for 1st grader killed in Preble County

MIDDLETOWN — Middletown City Schools will host a celebration of life ceremony in memory of James Hutchinson, the first grade student who police said was killed in Preble County and his body dumped in the Ohio River.

>>RELATED COVERAGE: Court records: Mother dragged Middletown boy to his death in Preble Co. park, disposed body in Ohio River

The ceremony will take place Tuesday at 6:45 p.m. at Barnitz Stadium, which is located right behind Rosa Parks Elementary, the school Hutchinson attended before his death. The ceremony will be open to the public.

“During this difficult time, I know our Middie Family will lean on one another while our community mourns. Our community always finds strength when we come together and I know we will come together for James,” Middletown schools Superintendent Marlon Styles said in a letter to parents that was also posted to social media.

>>PREVIOUS REPORT: Police: Middletown boy killed, dumped into Ohio River; mother and boyfriend charged

Grief counselors are at the elementary school today for students and additional resources have been set up for those in need. Parents or students who would like to speak to a counselor are asked to contact Rosa Park Elementary at 513-420-4552. Students and parents can also access assistance for dealing with grief by texting “HOME” to 741-741 to text a live trained counselor.

01 March 2021 Dear Parents/Guardians: My heart breaks writing this letter informing the Middletown City School...

Posted by Middletown City Schools on Monday, March 1, 2021

Tracy Neeley, Principal at Rosa Parks Elementary described Hutchinson as 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. First graders can find the joy in just about anything. I will always remember his bright joy,” Neely said in the district’s statement.

According to court records, Hutchinson was killed by his mother, Brittany Gosney, 29, at the Rush Run Wildlife Area in southern Preble County. Gosney told investigators she drove to the park with the intention to leave him there. But he attempted to get back inside the vehicle as she drove off, and “dragged the child for a distance,” court records alleged.

Gosney returned to the park about 30-40 minutes later and found Hutchinson dead. She later took his body back to their Middletown home before disposing it in the Ohio River.

We’ll continue to update this story as new developments occur.