jessica edwards

Husband’s cooperation with police leads to manslaughter charge in wife’s death

The body of a missing Connecticut mother was found Friday morning in a heavily wooded area, and by Friday night, her husband had been charged with her death.

South Windsor police said it was Tahj Hutchinson’s cooperation with their investigation that helped them make the case against him.

Jessica Edwards, 30, was reported missing on May 10. From the start, Sgt Mark Cleverdon told the Connecticut Post, Hutchinson, 22, spoke with police and answered all their questions.

“That access allowed us what we needed and ultimately gave us the ability to break down his story,” Cleverdon said.

Hutchinson told police that Edwards left the couple’s home at about 7 a.m. on the day she disappeared with someone he didn’t know. But Cleverdon said investigators determined that didn’t happen.

“We don’t have any reasons to believe that she was alive after she was reported missing,” Cleverdon said.

Cellphone data eventually led detectives to East Hartford, and that’s where Edwards’s body was found Friday morning.

“We narrowed in on a pretty good timeline for him leading up to her being reported missing,” Cleverdon said Saturday. “This data put him in the area for a period of time. We were pretty confident when we found the location data that this was where we were going to find Jessica.”

Cleverdon said detectives picked apart Hutchinson’s story as the investigation continued, amassing surveillance footage, witness interviews, and other evidence.

“As they narrowed the investigation, it became more directed at Mr. Hutchinson,” he said. “We didn’t want to prematurely point the finger at him … We were cautious at first because he was cooperating. We didn’t want to spook him, we didn’t want to lose him.”

Hutchinson has been charged with first-degree manslaughter and is being held on a $1 million bond. He’s expected in court Monday.

The state medical examiner is conducting an autopsy to determine cause of death. Cleverdon said police had pushed for a murder charge, but prosecutors opted for manslaughter.

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[Featured image: Jessica Edwards/South Windsor Police Department]