Details of Disappearance
James lived in Middletown, Ohio in February 2021. His mother, Brittany L. Gosney, and her boyfriend, James Russell Hamilton, came to the police station and reported him missing on February 28, 2021, the morning after they said he disappeared. The couple gave conflicting accounts as to the circumstances of his disappearance, and eventually admitted he was dead.
Gosney stated she took James and his older brother and sister, then aged seven and nine, to Rush Run Nature Preserve in Preble County, Ohio after 3:00 a.m., with the intention of abandoning all three there. She dropped them off, but James tried to get back into the car and she drove away, dragging him for a distance as he held onto the door handle.
When Gosney returned to the area thirty or forty minutes later, she found James dead of a head injury in the parking lot. She took his body and the other two children back to their home on Crawford Street in Middletown. On the night of February 27, while the children were asleep, Gosney and Hamilton put James's body in the car. They tied it to a cinder block, drove to the Ohio River and dumped it off the I-275 bridge near Lawrenceburg, Indiana.
Gosney was charged with murder, child endangerment, kidnapping, gross abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence. Hamilton, who was not present when the child was killed, was charged with kidnapping, child endangerment, gross abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence. Photos of them are posted with this case summary.
Gosney told police that Hamilton was abusive to all three of her children. Hamilton admitted that he would hog-tie the children, gag them with cloth and leave them like that for hours at a time. Gosney stated Hamilton said he wanted to get rid of the children by leaving them at the nature preserve so coyotes would eat them. She said she offered to drop the children off at a firehouse instead, but Hamilton was against the idea, so she took them to the nature preserve on her own.
In August 2021, Hamilton pleaded guilty to kidnapping, gross abuse of a corpse and two counts of child endangerment. He was sentenced to the maximum term of 19 years in prison, with eligibility for parole after 15 years. Gosney pleaded guilty to multiple charges, including murder, and was sentenced to life in prison, with the possibility of parole after 21 years.
Extensive searches of the Ohio River have not turned up any sign of James, but foul play is suspected in his case due to the circumstances involved. He was a first-grader at Rosa Parks Elementary School at the time of his presumed murder.