Nicole Marie Hutchings vanished without a trace after going to a Halloween Party in 2004. The young woman’s family was left with many questions after the authorities hit a wall while looking into her disappearance. But years later, someone who came forward with information led them to Nicole’s grave and, eventually, her killers. Investigation Discovery’s ‘It Happened to One Halloween Night’ reveals how a chance tip led to the case being solved. So, let’s find out what happened then, shall we?
How Did Nicole Hutchings Die?
Nicole Hutchings was born in San Fransisco, California, in June 1983, to James and Robin Hutchings. She did her schooling at Mountain View High School in Bend, Oregon. At the time of her disappearance, Nicole was working as an animal handler at a wolf sanctuary in Millican, Oregon. Loved ones described her as a friendly and caring woman. It was clear from her choice of profession that she loved animals.
Nicole enjoyed the outdoors and dreamt of serving in the Marine Corps. But sadly, all of her plans were cut short when she suddenly disappeared in 2004. November 1 was the last time Nicole’s mother saw her. She was supposed to attend a Halloween party. But the 21-year-old was never seen alive after that. More than two years later, in March 2007, Nicole’s naked body was found in a shallow grave close to Sunriver, Oregon. She had been repeatedly bludgeoned to death. By then, the authorities had a fair idea who was responsible for the murder.
Who Killed Nicole Hutchings?
The investigators did not consider Nicole a runaway since she was older than 18. But the search for her hit a dead-end soon after it began because there were not a lot of leads to chase down. The people who attended the Halloween party that night weren’t of much help either. As the months wore on, the hope to find Nicole dwindled. But in March 2007, a woman came up to the police with information that broke the case wide open.
She told the authorities that Nicole was murdered and her boyfriend, Loren Bowers, was involved with the killing. Soon, the police learned that Loren, along with his friend, Craig Whiting, was responsible for Nicole’s murder. In 2004, Nicole filed a complaint with the Department of Human Services alleging that Loren had molested his roommate’s 6-year-old daughter. She also claimed that he exposed her to an unsafe, drug-filled environment. Loren was previously sent to prison for rape in 1995, with his victims aged between 13 and 16 years old.
When the little girl’s mother confronted Loren with the accusation, he told her that he would kill Nicole, claiming he had “holes in the ground” that would “swallow her up.” Craig agreed to help him, and the two began to plot Nicole’s murder in October 2004. Craig later said,” ‘I looked to Loren as a brother, and if a brother asks you to do something to help them out, if you can do it, you do it.” So, the two of them planned a fake Halloween party to which Nicole was invited.
After luring Nicole out, they drugged her with painkillers, and then Craig drove the three of them to a remote location near Sunriver. Craig later admitted to first swinging a metal-tipped club at her, but when she didn’t die, Loren took the club and beat her several times. When she was unconscious, they dumped her into the shallow grave which Loren had dug earlier. The people who attended the party didn’t talk to the police because Loren threatened them. Once his girlfriend came forward with information, she agreed to wear a wire when she met Loren. Later, Craig led the police to the grave.
Where is Loren Bowers Now?
In December 2007, Loren, then 38 years old, pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated murder. But he denied the molestation accusations against him. Loren then said in court, “I want to apologize, to give my deepest regrets for the pain and suffering I caused Nicole and her family. I deserve the punishment that has been given.”
Loren was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Then about 27-years-old, Craig also pleaded guilty to aggravated murder in February 2008 and was later sentenced to life behind bars. Prison records indicate that Loren is incarcerated at Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem, Marion County.
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