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Webb Aide Found Dead in Southwest Virginia

Frederick Wayne Hutchins Jr., who headed up Sen. James Webb's Roanoke office, was found dead this morning alongside a highway in Botetourt County, according to the sheriff's office.

Hutchins, 26, had been active in numerous Democratic political campaigns and used to work for Del. Onzlee Ware (D-Roanoke) before he went to work for Webb.

Ronnie N. Sprinkle, the Botetourt County sheriff, said in a statement his officers discovered Hutchins' body about 7 a.m. on an embankment next to a vehicle parked on the shoulder of southbound US 220 near Fincastle.

Sprinkle said Hutchins appeared to have a single gunshot wound to the head. Police recovered a gun at the scene. The Office of the Medical Examiner is trying to determine the manner and time of death.

"I am terribly saddened by the tragic and sudden death of Fred Hutchins, who diligently managed our Roanoke Senate office," Webb (D-Va.) said in a statement. "Freddie was one of the most honorable and friendly individuals I have had the pleasure of knowing. 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."

By Tim Craig  |  July 29, 2008; 3:15 PM ET
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Dear Mr. Craig,

Mr. Hutchins was "lying" on the embankment, not "laying" on the embankment.

M.P. Michel

Posted by: Mary Patricia Michel | July 29, 2008 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Wow! I thought I was arrogant, but I wouldn't correct minor spelling errors in what's essentially a death notice.

(not) Good form, Ms. M.P. Michel!

Posted by: Pompous Magnus | July 29, 2008 4:28 PM | Report abuse

I sure hope that Senator Webb is not implicated in any way, this would really hurt his chances for VP then.

Posted by: Mtn Man | July 29, 2008 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, MP, but we lay things on a table; the body was laying on the ground. When we tell untruths we lie; that is to say we are lying.

Posted by: Stephen | July 29, 2008 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Was this the same guy arrested last year carring a gun at a local airport that he said belonged to Webb? Just wondering. I cannot remember.

Posted by: askgees | July 29, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Stephen is right, but for the wrong reason. If Mr. Hutchins decided to take a nap, he would be lying down. Since his body is now considered an inanimate object, it was laying on the road. A live being is lying down - that is, they perform the action by themselves, to themselves. An inanimate object is laying down - it requires somebody else to move it.

Mr. Hutchins may have dragged himself out of the car and fallen by the roadside before he died, at which time he was lying there. After he died, his body was laying there, requiring somebody else to move it.

Grammar disagreements aside, condolences to the friends and family of Mr. Hutchins.

Posted by: 20036 | July 29, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

To askgees:

No, that was Phillip Thompson with the gun in the airport.

Posted by: 20036 | July 29, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

You lie on the ground; also, you can lay things on the ground. Chickens lay eggs. Republicans lie. Stephen should go back to school.

Posted by: Kyle | July 29, 2008 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Grammar points aside, this is a sad and weird story. I hope they get the person who did this.

Posted by: Andrew | July 29, 2008 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Mtn Man:

I guess that would be a little like implicating John McCain in the deaths of 4,000 American soldiers. Even still, maybe it's a bit like implicating Cyndi McCain in some cocaine overdose.

Posted by: dft | July 29, 2008 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Anyone seen Hillary lately?


Posted by: gbooksdc | July 29, 2008 5:54 PM | Report abuse

The key question appears to be, did he lie down on the embankment, or did someone else lay him there?

Posted by: ttj | July 29, 2008 6:13 PM | Report abuse

This looks like NWO intimidation for a new US Senator. Don't let them push you around Jim.

Posted by: Chris Dunning | July 29, 2008 6:15 PM | Report abuse

My prayers go out to the Hutchins family. I hope they take no offense to the sick comments posted here. Once the investigation is done, we will find out. Then you can spew your hate, if it is warranted

Posted by: thelaw | July 29, 2008 7:08 PM | Report abuse

My wife and I went to middle school with Fred. I remember in seventh grade he had an L.L. Bean bookbag with "Democrat" monogrammed on it. He was a stand-up guy who, through his affiliations with Virginia State Del. Onzlee Ware and Jim Webb, stood up for REAL family values and common sense. He will be greatly missed. Fincastle, and Botetourt County as a whole, are very small, very quiet communities, and such deaths are rarely ever in the news there. Let's not call it murder; let's not call it suicide. Let the Botetourt County Sheriff's Office figure that out, thus showing proper respect for Fred's family. Please, keep Fred and all he loves in your prayers.

Posted by: Richards_Daddy | July 29, 2008 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm. James Webb is a bug gun fan and likes to carry guns around with him. Hmmmmmmm. Hmmmmmmm.

Posted by: Karl | July 29, 2008 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Condolences to the man's friends and family. How awful.

The misuse of the verbs to lie and to lay constitute a grammatical, not spelling, error.

The body was lying on the side of the road. CORRECT
The body lay by the side of the road.
CORRECT because it's...get this: past tense!

I'm laying out in the sun. WRONG! I'm laying out the wet clothes in the sun. CORRECT!

Perhaps this will help: He got laid is grammatically correct.

Posted by: Spelling guru K | July 29, 2008 7:38 PM | Report abuse

>>>Posted by: Stephen
...but we lay things on a table; the body was laying on the ground. When we tell untruths we lie; that is to say we are lying.<<<

Sorry, but...

lay = to place something somewhere. Lay is a transitive verb that requires an object (noun, pronoun) for the action of the verb

lie = recline; intransitive verb that does not require an object

So, it's incorrect to say in a grammatical sense that a body in a reclining position is laying anywhere. The correct word in this case is "lie," as in "I'm going to lie down on my comfortable sofa" or "the dead person was found lying on the ground."

Posted by: Grammar Bee | July 29, 2008 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Condolences to the family. Whatever the outcome, it is an awful situation for them. If it is suicide, I have no feelings at all for Mr. Hutchins. He was only thinking of himself, not those who loved him. Suicide is the ultimate form of conceit.

MP got herself into one of the most difficult areas of grammar in English, the Laying Lying controversy. I had trouble with that in primary and secondary school. I really didn't get it straight until a university professor beat me about the head and face.

Posted by: Michael1945 | July 29, 2008 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Anyone seen Hillary lately?


Posted by: gbooksdc | July 29, 2008 5:54 PM


non-stop, wall-to-wall fundraising.... 24 / 7 .

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | July 29, 2008 8:28 PM | Report abuse

hit mashed hits' thumb, is proper english in middle virginia

Posted by: pubichaironmycokecan | July 29, 2008 8:30 PM | Report abuse

I bet the suicide rate of congressional staffers is about quadruple that of the general population. Everything is exaggerated, both the successes and the failures -- a death before dishonor thing over politicians who don't really make a difference.

Posted by: Kacoo | July 29, 2008 8:50 PM | Report abuse

I went to school with Fred and this is a horrible tragedy to all who knew him. He was a wonderful guy who strived for what he believed in. To all who are making this story into a grammar war, please get over it and remember that someones family just lost a son and he will be greatly missed by many.

Posted by: LB Grad | July 29, 2008 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Karl 7:29pm

Keep your Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm s to yourself. What an unsavory insinuation!

Posted by: Mora | July 29, 2008 9:46 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: aceldelvarca | July 29, 2008 9:49 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: aceldelvarca | July 29, 2008 9:50 PM | Report abuse

I was a friend of Fred's and just saw him Friday. He will be greatly missed.

Posted by: Friend | July 29, 2008 10:30 PM | Report abuse

I saw Fred just a few weeks ago on the golf course having the time of his life. When I got the news today, it was like a punch to the gut. My heart breaks for his family in this time of tremendous tragedy and loss. He was such a bright guy, honorable man and one of the most dedicated Democrats I've ever known. Jim Webb, and all Virginians, have lost a devoted public servant and wonderful human being.

Posted by: tamepes | July 29, 2008 10:40 PM | Report abuse

I am a dedicated Democrat and also a diagnosed bipolar disordered individual and also a fan of the English language.

You folks have sincerely given me a great laugh today over something not so funny.

RIP young man.

Posted by: Laura | July 29, 2008 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Now I lay me down to sleep...
A gun found nearby will almost always mean self-inflicted and that is always sad in one so young.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 30, 2008 3:24 AM | Report abuse

Thank you, Spelling guru and Grammar Bee. Stephen, back to the 4th grade!

My condolences to those who knew the young man. What a tragedy.

Posted by: R Miller | July 30, 2008 3:29 AM | Report abuse

Maybe he was "suicided" like Vince Foster. It is easy to fake a suicide. The local yokel cops sometimes can't tell the difference.

Posted by: Karl | July 30, 2008 6:48 AM | Report abuse

Fred was a great guy. He will be missed in and around Roanoke. As one can see by the above comments by people who know Fred, including me, he was a respected man. I hope that the disrespectful thread above will not detract from the fact that Fred served his countymen with dedication and a smile.

I also hope that, if foul play was involved, the guilty party will be punished to the law's full extent. The possibility that the death was a suicide should not taint our memories of such a great person.

There are grammar forums for some of you, I suggest you find them instead of vetting this notice of death.

Posted by: Jesse | July 30, 2008 7:40 AM | Report abuse

The "local yokel cops" know and care about their constituents and will, I am sure, take this more seriously than you.

"Rest In Peace My Good and faithful Servant."

Posted by: Mj | July 30, 2008 7:51 AM | Report abuse

Jim Webb has already said he's not gonna accept VP. This is because it came out what he said insulting and demeaning women in the military. JOE BIDEN!

Posted by: anonymous | July 30, 2008 8:12 AM | Report abuse

Hey, "Spelling guru K", he didn't get laid, he got shot. Didn't you read the article?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 30, 2008 8:48 AM | Report abuse

I guess Webb is just cleaning up any messy associations before going for the VP spot. Shredding papers, killing off anyone who may know a little too much. Usual Clinton stuff.

Posted by: Quinn | July 30, 2008 8:51 AM | Report abuse

I am a big believer in blogging and the move towards a more participatory media (I have been running my own political blog for 4 years now). But I have to say that the comments about this article may be the last straw for me, when it comes to the issue of whether newspapers should have comments sections for every story.

A young man has died, and there is very little information about what happened. And immediately, the psychos come out - some accusing Webb of some kind of involvement, others making jokes about how one of Webb's aides carries a registered handgun for security purposes. This kind of garbage has no value to anyone - it doesn't represent the free flow of ideas or perspectives, it is not part of any marketplace of ideas. It is garbage, period.

I encourage the Washington Post and other major papers to turn the "comments" feature off - at least for non-opinion stories. It was a noble experiment, but some readers have ruined it for the rest of us.

Posted by: Thad Anderson | July 30, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

very sad story, too early to make any judgement whether the death was suicide or not though since all the details of the injury have not been released. That being said, happy people don't kill themselves. Don't personally care for Webb, thought his campaign was disgraceful and that George Allen was a much better senator and a better man. Webb is an embarassment to himself and to the commonwealth in his actions since taking office, especially by refusing to shake hands and greet the sitting President and CIC of your country.

Posted by: mojo | July 30, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

RIP Fred. This is shocking news. Please share your memories in honor of his life.

Posted by: Toni | July 30, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

The thread under an article that announces a man's death kicks off with a grammar argument....

Stay classy, Internet.

Posted by: Lenny | July 30, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Given Knoxville, the new Republican theme seems to be:

If you can't beat them, murder them.

Republican terrorists should be treated as such.

Posted by: James McDouglas | July 30, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

As soon as I saw the headline I knew that the trolls would have a feast day; however, I never expected a Grammar Police pinhead to take the thread off track immediately.

I sadly have to agree with Thad Allen. A very young man died and we know little of the facts, yet people are using it as an opportunity to take political pot shots at his boss. Paraphrasing Barnum, Nobody would ever go broke underestimating the Teastelessness of the American public.

The trolls just may be proving that we're not worthy of having features such as these 'Comments' sections.

Posted by: NoVA | July 30, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

I'd better correct that to Thad Anderson before the Grammar Police get on my case.

Posted by: NoVA | July 30, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

This is horrible for a bright young star - no matter which party he is from. I'm sure his family and all who know him are devastated.

The grammar argument reminds me of the traditional media - Light on the story; Heavy on the BS.

Posted by: tbiz | July 30, 2008 2:20 PM | Report abuse

You are all wrong about the use of lying and laying. And I'm not telling a lie.

Posted by: Spelling Cop | July 30, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Politician or not, Fred was someone's son, someone's brother, another one's friend, someone who was truly loved by all who had the honor of knowing him. I certainly hope his family does not read these disgraceful comments.

Posted by: Botetourt Va | July 30, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

I am a member of his family. I'm not surprised to read these insensitive threads and I just want to briefly chime in by saying Freddie was a rare type of person. He was passionate about what he did, and he was greatly loved and admired by those who knew him. The cause of his death has not been determined and it would be nice if people wouldn't jump to conclusions.

Posted by: hurting | July 30, 2008 7:41 PM | Report abuse

One less Democrat...

Posted by: ezwinner | July 30, 2008 11:43 PM | Report abuse

I'm just glad his dead body "laying" had nothing to do with necrophilia.

Posted by: Phil in the ATL | July 31, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

It's easy for people to take pot-shots in every direction, obviously. But please, let's not forget what this story is about. A young man's life is tragically ended, people.

While I don't agree with Tad that closing comments is the best course, I do think that some of you are truly, and tragically out-of-touch with life and death and what they can mean.

I say this as a very involved political activist myself, so I am not immune to thoughts and theories either, but please have a little respect and patience for the local law enforcement authorities to determine the facts before you spew such disrespectful filth.

Posted by: Doug in Mount Vernon | July 31, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Wow, 'ezwinner' and 'Phil in the ATL' (among others here..) need their heads checked.

Posted by: Tom in CA | July 31, 2008 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Is this the work of the McCain campaign?

Posted by: Fred | August 1, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

I went to middle school and high school with Fred Hutchins and he was a fine man. I cannot believe the horrible, hate-filled comments that have been left on here. How dare anyone pass judgement on him. I am a die-hard republican but I can tell you that if Fred Hutchins had run for President one day, I sure would have cast my vote in his direction. I had the honor of serving as a class officer with Fred and he is still one of the nicest people I have ever met. Let's wait and see what the cause of death is before we start making assumptions about other people. You morons should be ashamed of yourselves-I hope that you noticed that at least one of his family members have read these posts and were hurt by your insensitive comments. Grow up, people.

Posted by: Erin in Texas | August 3, 2008 12:42 AM | Report abuse

To "Erin in Texas" if you are a die-hard Republican why would you vote for a die-hard Democrat? Because he is a "nice person"? Obama might be a "nice person" but I don't want him near the White House because of his positions and policies...

Posted by: Michael | August 4, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

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