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7 months later: Where the search for James Hutchinson’s body stands

“It seems like everything has worked against us.”
Published: Aug. 16, 2021 at 5:55 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - A guilty plea in the murder case surrounding 6-year-old James Hutchinson doesn’t mean the search for his body is over.

But as the case reaches its conclusion, the search appears stuck in limbo, with authorities and volunteers alike waiting on credible leads.

Hutchinson’s mother, Brittany Gosney, admitted in court on Monday to killing the boy while attempting to abandon him and his two siblings at a Preble County park in February.

Authorities say Hutchinson was dragged by Gosney’s van as he tried to get back inside. She eventually returned for him and the other children, put them in the van and drove back home. Two days later, she tied a concrete block to Hutchinson’s body before throwing him in the Ohio River.

The months-long search for his body has been intermittent due in part to seasonal floods. It’s also come up empty.

Crews were out in Lawrenceburg as recently as July using a dive team and cadaver dogs in the hopes of finding Hutchinson’s body―as well as that of Nylo Lattimore, 4, also believed to be in the Ohio River.

“Those two little boys are in that river somewhere,” Preble County Sheriff Mike Simpson said. “We are not going to give up.”

North Star International Search and Recovery has led volunteer-based search efforts alongside law enforcement.

Speaking on Monday, Tracy Campbell with North Star said the conditions have hampered search attempts.

“It seems like everything has worked against us,” Campbell said. “When the incident first happened, we had all the issues with the weather and the rain.”

Campbell adds the team wants nothing more than to find Hutchinson’s body.

“I know that myself, along with the NSI team, would feel better if we could have located James, brought him home and put him to rest,” she said reacting Gosney’s guilty plea on Monday.

>> Grandfather of missing 6-year-old has doubts body was dumped in Ohio River

Campbell says due to lack of evidence there are no planned searches at this time―but that doesn’t mean she’s giving up.

“We’re 100 percent committed,” she said. “If someone finds something or if there’s an area law enforcement want to go back out and search, absolutely, we will do it.”

Simpson offered the same commitment.

“Anytime we have information that would lead us to try to recover him, we are still going to do that. Each time that our dive team partners have been on the water, we have not come up with anything. It’s frustrating, but if we get information, credible information, hopefully, we will be able to recover James or Nylo for that fact. I’m sure that Cincinnati police are still working that case.”

Gosney will be sentenced on Sept. 13.

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