Mother to Plead Guilty in Death of Son

Camden Hughes' body was found along a remote road in Maine in May

By LYNNE TUOHY
|  Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011  |  Updated 5:13 PM CDT
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Mother to Plead Guilty in Death of Son

Julianne McCrery and her son Camden Pierce Hughes.

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An Irving woman accused of killing her 6-year-old son in New Hampshire and disposing of his body in rural Maine will plead guilty to killing him, court officials said.

Julianne McCrery, 42, will plead guilty to second-degree murder in the death of her son, Camden Hughes.

Her lawyers did not immediately return messages left by The Associated Press. McCrery pleaded not guilty in May and has since waived all other court appearances.

A Rockingham Superior Court clerk confirmed McCrery has filed a notice of intent to plead guilty and will be sentenced to 45 years to life in prison. No date has been set for her to formally enter her plea.

The discovery of Camden's body under a blanket on a dirt road in South Berwick, Maine, on May 14 launched a nationwide effort to identify him. Even as that effort was under way, McCrery called his Irving, Texas, elementary school daily to report him absent.

Camden died of asphyxiation, according to a medical examiner. He and his mother had stayed in a New Hampshire motel the weekend his body was discovered.

Texas public records show that McCrery was arrested at least twice on prostitution charges and once for possession with intent to distribute drugs. In 2009, she was sentenced to one year in prison for a misdemeanor conviction of prostitution. In 2004, she was sentenced to three years of probation for a felony conviction of possession of a controlled substance.

Law enforcement authorities and friends have portrayed McCrery as a loving but troubled mother whose mood swings often prompted her to take lengthy road trips. It was on one of those trips, New Hampshire prosecutors say, that McCrery killed her son at a Hampton, N.H., motel. His body was found just over the border in Maine.

McCrery was arrested at a Chelmsford, Mass., rest stop on May 17 after being spotted by a trucker.

A lawyer who represented her at a brief court appearance in Massachusetts has said he got the impression from McCrery that her intent was to take her son's life and then kill herself.

"I believe she was there to bring both herself and her son to heaven," attorney George Murphy said in May. "She told me, `I love my son very much. I know where he is. He's in heaven, and I want to go there as soon as possible."'

McCrery's mother, LuRae McCrery, said she did not know her daughter was going to enter a guilty plea. She said they last spoke about a week ago and that her daughter has sounded "real depressed" in their last few phone conversations.

"I definitely think she needs some help," said LuRae McCrery of Curtis, Neb.

She said she's also certain her daughter planned to kill herself as well.

"She regrets that Camden's gone. I think she regrets not completing the act," McCrery said. "I've lost them both, as far as I'm concerned."

Shirley Miller, a close family friend, said Wednesday that she was still grappling with the death of the boy who called her "Grandma Shirley."

"We go to the store and see something we want to buy Camden," Miller said. "It's a sad time."

Miller said McCrery was a good mother and that only enhanced the shock she felt at news of the boy's killing.

"I still haven't brought myself to writing her yet," Miller said. "I liked her so well in one sense, but I hate her actions."

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