For the families of victims killed in unsolved murders, life has been at a standstill for a long time, even before the pandemic arrived.
Over the next several weeks, The Enquirer will highlight a series of cold cases, summarized and analyzed by the journalists whose careers largely focus on unsolved murders: the creators of Cincinnati.com’s Accused podcast. If you have any information on any unsolved case, please reach out to the appropriate law enforcement agency. Suggestions for cases to highlight can be sent to [email protected]
The crime: Richard A. Hudgies wasn’t your average 31-year-old man. He was a charmer, a guy with a big smile, keen fashion sense and, according to his friends, huge heart. So when Hudgies was found dead in the entryway of his Pendleton apartment building on May 25, 2016, it didn’t make sense to those who knew him.
Rick Hudgies was 31 and living in Pendleton when he was fatally shot in the entryway of his apartment building on May 25, 2016. Four years later, his friends and family are still searching for the killer. (Photo: Provided)
“I can’t explain,” said Tila Frost, Hudgies’ cousin, though the two were so close he often introduced her as his sister. “My soul just … He was legitimately my best friend. You know that friend you call about every little thing throughout your day? That was him.”
Days after the shooting, a few family members joined dozens of area mothers who’d arranged a march against violence near Hudgies’ home. At the time, another cousin said she hoped to soon be learning of an arrest in the case.
Four years later, the case remains unsolved.
The victim: You wouldn’t know it by talking with him, but Hudgies – called Rick by friends – had had a rough childhood, bouncing between parents and other family members. Eventually, he settled in with an aunt and uncle in Wyoming, where he shined in the high school’s theater program.
“He was one of the most outgoing, social people that I know,” Frost said. “He was into fashion, always sketching and making designs.”
Lindsey Morton was a classmate of Hudgies, though back then, her surname was Lewis.
“He was just so complimentary. He was always my biggest fan,” Morton said. “It’d be, ‘You’re the funniest person I know,’ or ‘you’re the most beautiful girl’ … and he was like that way with everyone.”
Soon before Hudgies was found with a bullet in his head, he’d started a job selling cars at Jeff Wyler Honda of Colerain Township. He took to the job immediately, snapping celebratory photos of his happy clients, many of which he posted to Facebook.
“They loved him up there,” Frost said of his coworkers. “I think almost all the guys came to the funeral.”
The last night: As often happens with high school friends, Morton and Hudgies went their separate ways after graduating in 2003, keeping in touch mainly through Facebook comments. But then, one night in 2016, Morton was driving from a friend’s house around 13th and Sycamore in Pendleton when she noticed a black sports car – Mercedes, she thinks – with tinted windows driving erratically ahead of her. The car slowed, then stopped, in the middle of the road, as though trying to spot someone.
It was annoying, so it caught Morton’s attention. Soon, she noticed that a man had approached the driver’s side window and was talking to another man behind the wheel.
“And would you believe it? Rick Hudgies is standing there with a girl and they were clearly the people meeting this black Mercedes,” she recalled.
Normally, Morton would have hollered to say hello, but something about the scene unnerved her. Instead, she pulled carefully around the car. She had one more chance to scream out while she was stopped in front of the Mercedes at a red light. Hudgies didn’t look like his happy-go-lucky self. “He looked really busy,” Morton said. “So I figure, I’m going to go and Facebook messge him tomorrow and say, ‘Hey, I saw you!’ ”
That was around 8 p.m. Within an hour, Hudgies was dead.
The news: The next morning, Hudgies’ brother called Frost and quietly relayed horrifying news: “Rick got shot.” “And me, I’m immediately like, ‘Oh my god, what hospital is he at, give me the info?’ He said, ‘No, Tila, it’s not like that. He’s dead.”
Morton called CrimeStoppers and shared what she’d seen the night prior, though she never heard if anyone had identified the driver of the sleek car or the young woman on Hudgies’ arm.
Morton worries that because Hudgies was a Black man killed near Over-The-Rhine, his case might not be getting the attention it deserves. “To me, this is an innocent, young, amazing person who just got murdered,” she said.
Hudgies, in addition to being a suave car salesman, was also an actor. He had finished filming an independent flick called “Neighborhood,” the premiere of which was delayed because of his death.
Got tips? If you know anything about who Hudgies was meeting the night he died, or the identity of the woman he was with that night, please call Cincinnati Police at 513-352-3542 or Crimestoppers at 513-352-3040.
Accused, reported by Enquirer journalists Amber Hunt and Amanda Rossmann, is an award-winning podcast investigating cold cases with three seasons available on all mainstream platforms such as Apple Podcasts and also at www.accusedpodcast.com.
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