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Bathed in Black

Updated: Jan 21

Satanic panic, we’ve all come across this phrase a time or two while watching or reading about true crime cases. Satanic panic was a phenomenon that swept the county, and at the height of the craze, you basically couldn’t open up the newspaper or tune into a news station without hearing about subliminal messages hidden in rock music and even pagan symbols in cartoons. This story has hints of satanic worship but how likely is it all these decades later that this rare occurrence even played a part? Maybe the answer is all too obvious.

First, I would like to thank Julie, Brandy’s cousin, for taking the time to speak with me. She is steadfast about finding justice for her cousin. She shared memories that she has of Brandy. Brandy never deserved this. She hopes with the newly found interest and the Facebook page more will come to light.

Brandy Dawn Hutchins was born on November 5, 1975, to her parents Jerry and Mary in Arkansas. Brandy was an only child, but her cousin Julie fit in to fill any void of having one. Julie was nine years older than Brandy. This age gap did not deter the bond they formed. When Brandy was born Julie would often sleep over the house, she doted on her baby cousin. It was like "I had my real-life baby-doll" Julie said. As both girls grew older, they went different paths which put a distance between them. When they did get in touch it was like they never missed a beat.

Brandy grew up in small town Arkansas. In the early 1980’s Brandy’s parents made the big decision to move the family to Iowa. They moved with a couple that also had a daughter around Brandy’s age. This move was short-lived, a few months to be exact. Mary met another man, this caused Jerry and Mary to split. Jerry decided to take Brandy with him and move back to Arkansas. Without anything solid set up because the move back was sudden Jerry moved into a trailer park, in a home shared by his two brothers. This was not ideal as the crammed tight spaces were overwhelming, especially for a young girl. Now without a mother figure Brandy started to act out and would get in trouble often at school. This behavior topped with Jerry not knowing how to handle what Brandy was dealing with, frequently left Brandy in group homes for troubled youth. Jerry did not have the skills to help Brandy, besides Mary was the disciplinarian in the household and now she was no longer around.

In September of 1988, Brandy met a friend at the local carnival. They bonded quickly and, in the months, leading up to her death she was over this friend’s home almost daily. Her friend had an older brother and the two became close quickly. Brandy was fond of him and how he treated her like she was the only girl he had eyes for. She was smitten. The only thing she ever wanted for years was to be loved and now she had just that. Brandy fell quickly and wanted this young man to be her boyfriend. Did this man have true intentions or was it all just a facade to take advantage of a child and her weaknesses?

On November 10, 1988, Brandy asked her father for a ride to Coal Hill, (Johnson County) a small town about 20 minutes away from their residence. Brandy insisted this was for a birthday party her friends had planned for her. Jerry was adamant Brandy could not go. Throughout that day Brandy begged him. This was exciting for her, it showed that her friends really cared about her. Jerry reluctantly agreed to allow her to attend. Later that evening, Jerry dropped Brandy off at the long driveway on Whippoorwill Road (County Road 6). Jerry did not drive up the driveway as it was very narrow, and he wasn’t sure if he would be able to turn his vehicle around. Although it was not discussed Jerry assumed he would see his daughter later that night or the following day. That day never came when Brandy would walk through the front door of the trailer home.

The property where Brandy Hutchins was found

It was on November 12, 1988, two hunters were walking with their dogs through the area on Coal Hill when they found a purse lying near an abandoned house. Suspicious they took a look around. One looked underneath the structure. The home was sat on a wooden frame and a clear large space was visible to peak under. One man jolted back up, frightened, “there’s a body under there” he said to his fellow hunter. They were able to phone help. The police arrived at the residence and discovered the body of Brandy Hutchins. She was shot once in the face, just above her right eye with a .22 pistol. She was thrown under the dilapidated home. Inside the home were markings of graffiti, painted of satanic symbols. Shocked by the discovery and in the era of “satanic panic” first left speculation to the theory Brandy could have been a sacrifice. That theory slowed dwindled as the abandoned home was a frequent party spot for local teens to party. There was no concrete evidence of such activity aside from the writings on the wall.

Underneath the dilapidated property where Brandy was recovered

Rumors circulated in Coal Hill, from the beginning, and there were certainly a mysterious series of events closely following her murder. Shortly after Brandy’s murder the abandoned house Brandy’s body was found at was lit on fire and destroyed. It was almost as if the individuals hoped to destroy any evidence that was overlooked. Within months of Brandy’s murder her boyfriend and his family moved out of state. This made everyone take a deeper look into the family. Brandy’s boyfriend made claims they were not a couple but according to Brandy they were. This is explained away as they probably were not a couple but had a sexual relationship. This made sense by a key piece of evidence found in Brandy’s purse, located at the scene. Inside Brandy’s purse investigators found a positive pregnancy test. Oddly, when the autopsy was conducted Brandy was not pregnant. It wasn’t until decades later one of Brandy’s friends finally came forward. It was her pregnancy test that was found inside Brandy’s purse. Brandy, being young and lusting for love and a family of her own, despite her young age, wanted her boyfriend to think she was pregnant. This was a desperate attempt to hopefully make him exclusively her boyfriend.  

Time passed and Brandy’s case slowly faded into the background. However, Brandy’s part time lover was back in the spotlight in 1994. A young woman, Michelle Burchell was last seen at her mother's Hopkins, Kentucky residence on June 2, 1994. Michelle was last seen with the same man that is suspected in Brandy’s murder. It is reported this man assaulted Michelle and threatened to kill her in the past. Michelle has never been found and is still listed as a missing person today, in Kentucky. Suspicion also swirls around the death of two girls, at different points in time who were romantically acquainted with the same man at the time of their deaths. Both deaths were ruled suicide and very little information is out there about their lives.

Missing Michelle Burchell (Kentucky)

What happened to Brandy Hutchins on November 10, 1988? Brandy was a rough around the edge’s kind of gal. This trait was acquired over the years in an attempt to cover up the hurt she experienced from her broken home. She was a daddy’s girl that just wanted someone to love her. She thought she found the fill to her void in her boyfriend. Unfortunately, this relationship was too good to be true. Brandy found herself taking desperate measures to keep him. Could this have been the reason for Brandy’s murder? The question that needs to be answered is who planned the birthday party for Brandy? Was this a ruse to lure Brandy to the abandoned home that evening? Did Brandy know there was not going to be a party, but the meeting was for something else entirely? Darkness came over that night with a face of evil. When Brandy came face to face with a figure bathed in black.

Please like & follow the Facebook page that is set up for Brandy:

More links:

Missing Michelle Burchell:

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