“May God forgive you, because we never will.”
That tearful message from a grieving father closed a chapter on one of the most gruesome murders in Franklin County history when Cameron Hill, Union, pleaded guilty to the stabbing death of his former girlfriend, Cassidy Hutchings, 23, Villa Ridge.
Hill was indicted by a Franklin County grand jury in March 2017 for first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the stabbing death of Hutchings.
The plea deal agreed to Tuesday reduced the charges to murder in the second degree and armed criminal action, carrying a sentence of 58 years in prison. It was accepted by 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Victor Joseph Melenbrink.
During the victim impact statement, Jim Hutchings told Hill he would one day walk hand in hand with his daughter again in heaven.
“There is an evil that exudes from your very presence,” Hutchings said to Hill. “With God’s help, I’ve moved past the hate. I have pity for what you are facing in the prison system and especially for when you face God’s judgment.”
The charge of murder in the second degree carries a 30-year sentence and the armed criminal action felony carries a 28-year sentence.
Both Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney Matt Becker and Hill’s public defender agreed to the plea, and Hill was sentenced immediately following the impact statements.
“Law enforcement owes more to this family than we can even imagine,” Becker said. “This sentence at least guarantees he (Hill) will be too old to commit another crime of this type if he ever gets out of prison.”
Becker thanked the Hutchings family for their tremendous patience and stated that law enforcement did a fine job investigating the case.
According to the probable cause statement filed two years ago by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Hill, 29, and Hutchings had gone to Reiker Ford along the Bourbeuse River south of Union Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017.
It was there that Hill cut Hutchings’ throat with a knife before she fled from the man into the Bourbeuse River. Hill then chased her into the river where he stabbed her multiple times in the back of her head, neck and back, authorities said.
During the hearing, Becker explained the murder weapon was a buck knife with a long blade.
Hill was originally charged in Franklin County Associate Circuit Court with first-degree murder and armed criminal action and was held in the Franklin County Jail on a $500,000 cash-only bond.
Authorities said the victim’s father contacted the sheriff’s office Jan. 19, at 11:20 p.m. because Hutchings had not come home. He told deputies that she normally returns home early when she works the next morning.
The victim’s body was recovered from the Bourbeuse River after 8 a.m. Friday, Jan. 20, when a resident saw the body and contacted authorities.
Hutchings’ vehicle was parked near the river access, authorities said.
A subsequent investigation led police to a home in Union in the 300 block of Springfield Avenue where Hill had been staying. He was arrested before 11 a.m. June 20 and taken into custody.
Authorities allege that Hill admitted to killing Hutchings.
Hill had recently returned from the area after spending several months in Texas.
Authorities said Hill did not have a criminal record. He previously had lived in the St. Clair area.
Union police and the Missouri Department of Conservation assisted the sheriff’s office during the investigation.
Hill was represented by the 20th Circuit public defender’s office and has been in custody at the Franklin County Jail since his arrest on $500,000 bond.
During the Tuesday hearing, it was disclosed Hill was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder at age 8 and is bipolar with psychotic features.
He was on disability for his mental illness at the time of the murder.