Husband charged in death of missing wife after body found

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The husband of a missing Connecticut mother whose body was found Friday in a heavily wooded area of an East Hartford park was charged hours later with manslaughter in connection with her death.

Tahj Hutchinson, 22, was taken into police custody on Friday evening, South Windsor Police said in a statement released on social media. He was being held on $1 million bond, charged with 1st degree manslaughter in the de ath of Jessica Edwards, 30.

Police said Hutchinson may face additional charges, pending results of the continuing police investigation and an autopsy being conducted by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Edwards, the mother of a 7-month-old boy, had been missing since earlier this month. Her husband told police she left their home in South Windsor, one town over from East Hartford, on the morning of May 10 and hadn’t been seen since.

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Police initially said they believed Edwards had left in an unknown vehicle, but South Windsor Police Sgt. Mark Cleverdon said Friday that investigators “don’t believe that’s exactly what happened.” He did not elaborate.

Edwards’ cell phone has been shut off since she went missing, which complicated search efforts. But Cleverdon said police were ultimately able to use “location data” obtained through search warrants from another, unidentified source to narrow where to look for the missing woman.

Local and state police found her decomposed body between 9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. near a trail in the Hockanum River Linear Park with the help of police dogs and an aerial support unit.

“I think every single day we were able to get a little closer to getting to the location where we ended up searching this morning,” Cleverdon said.

Authorities were awaiting a cause and manner of death from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. Cleverdon said the case is still considered “suspicious in nature” but that could change depending on the medical examiner’s report.

Manchester police confirmed they were a part of the ongoing investigation and had helped at a home related to the case.

Family members of Edwards were seen hugging in the East Hartford neighborhood near the park where police and the medical examiner’s office responded Friday. Cleverdon said he and Deputy Chief Brian Eckblom spoke with Edwards’ family earlier on Friday morning for about an hour and a half.

“We feel for them and there’s no other way to put that. They are grieving right now and they miss their daughter, their sister greatly,” he said. “So it is our obligation to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to find as much closure as possible for them.”

The case has attracted statewide interest. Police and relatives had been urging the public to come forward with any information that would narrow their search. Family members and local residents distributed flyers throughout the Hartford area.

“Jessica wouldn’t leave without her baby,” Kendra Getfield, Jessica’s cousin, told the Journal Inquirer this week. “This is not like her. She talks to her mother and sister every single day. It is a red flag.”

Edwards, a student at Manchester Community College, missed a clinical class at Hartford Hospital on the morning of May 10. Her sister said Edwards’ professor received an email at 2:20 a.m. that day saying she would not be attending the clinical session, but added it was strange she didn’t also notify the hospital.

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