Frederick Wayne Hutchins Jr., a Roanoke, Va. resident who served as an office manager to U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., was found shot dead on Tuesday, The Richmond Times Dispatch reports.
Hutchins, 26, ran Webb's Senate office in southwest Virginia and served as Virginia Delegate Onzlee Ware's legislative aide for three years. His body was found with a single gunshot wound to the head beside a vehicle on U.S. 220 just north of Fincastle, according to the state sheriff’s department.
A deputy who stopped to check on the vehicle parked on an embankment found a gun beneath the body, sheriff Ronnie Sprinkle told The Times Dispatch. Investigators won’t know if his death was a suicide or murder until autopsy results from the state medical examiner's office in Roanoke are made available.
"I am terribly saddened by the tragic and sudden death of Fred Hutchins, who diligently managed our Roanoke Senate office,” Webb said through a statement released by his Washington, D.C., office.
“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."
"This came as a complete surprise to us," Webb spokeswoman Jessica Smith told Fox News. "It's just the saddest thing. He was such a great kid, so full of life, so sweet and so well loved,” she said.
Hutchins, a Democratic operative in the Roanoke Valley, was an early campaigner for Webb and had worked in Webb's office since the day it opened.
"At 13-years-old, Fred had political cards, and [they read] Fred W. Hutchins Jr., Political Consultant . . . at 13," Ware said about Hutchins’ early ambitions. "So then he announced to me that one day he knew I was going to run for public office and when that day came he was going to be my campaign manager," Ware told The Times Dispatch.
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