Staffer for Webb Found Dead on Virginia Roadside

Posted July 29, 2008 at 6:51pm

A young Senate aide was found dead Tuesday morning on the side of a highway in Virginia.

Botetourt County officers found Frederick Wayne Hutchins Jr., 26, on the shoulder of U.S. 220 with a single gunshot wound to the head. A gun was underneath the body, officials said.

Hutchins ran Sen. Jim Webb’s (D-Va.) Roanoke district office, helping represent the Senator in the area, said Kimberly Hunter, Webb’s spokeswoman.

In a statement, Webb said he was “terribly saddened” by the news.

“Freddie was one of the most honorable and friendly individuals I have had the pleasure of knowing,” he said. “He was a mainstay in the Roanoke community and a friend to all who knew him. My condolences go out to his mother, Karen, and the rest of his family and friends. He will be greatly missed.”

Botetourt Deputy Sheriff Delbert Dudding said an investigation is ongoing and officials are waiting for an autopsy before determining the official cause of death.

“All I can say is that there was a gunshot wound, and we did recover a handgun at the scene,” he said.

Hutchins joined Webb’s district office after working as a field operative for the Senator’s 2006 campaign. A Roanoke Times article from 2007 described Hutchins as a “NASCAR-loving country boy from rural Botetourt.” He only drove Fords, declaring at the time that “American people should drive American cars.”

Hutchins began his political career by managing the first campaign of state Del. Onzlee Ware (D). The two had met at a political rally when Hutchins was 13; the teenager gave the lawyer a handmade business card simply reading “Fred Hutchins, Democrat,” according to the Times article.

On Tuesday, Ware told the paper that Hutchins was a loyal friend.

“Fred stuck with me,” he said. “And there were times I know he was called a n—–lover because he stuck with me, a black man.”

Hutchins died sometime between 4:30 a.m. and 7:08 a.m. Tuesday, according to the Botetourt County Sheriff’s Department. At that time, an officer stopped to inspect Hutchins’ car, which was parked north of Fincastle on the shoulder of U.S. 220. Hutchins’ body was outside the car on a small embankment by the road.