Loretta Hudson has lived in the same house in my town for 65 years. After her husband passed in 2003, she raised her granddaughter, Alexandra, on her own. In 2020, Alexandra was a victim in a string of murders in Bucks County. Her killer, Henry Hopkins, was tried and found not guilty by reason of mental disease and defect. The local news and true crime blogs had nicknamed him Mr. Skinn in reference to his method of skinning his victims. However, Hopkins was only confined to Newtown Psychiatric Hospital for less than four months before his escape in October 2020.
Loretta Hudson and I could not be more different. However, we have one cruel commonality: we have both had a loved one stolen from us by Mr. Skinn. I reached out to Mrs. Hudson early on in my search for Jennifer. I thought hearing from someone else who had been close to one of his victims may shed some light on something the others missed in Jennifer's last days, something she didn't put in the blog.
Through our conversation, I learned that Alexandra was taking classes at Bucks County Community College to become a kindergarten teacher. She loved dogs and snowboarding and hated the inescapable heat of the summer months. Mrs. Hudson describes her granddaughter with every ounce of love and nostalgia that you'd expect, until she begins to reminisce about her last days.
When Mr. Skinn began his short-lived killing spree, the police had been certain in the fact that it had not been pre-meditated. His victims were random, pulled from the running trail that he stalked from the comfort of his make-shift hideout under Schofield Ford Covered Bridge.
When Mrs. Hudson speaks about the last few times she saw Alexandra alive, she stares off into space as if recalling a particularly horrible dream. Allegedly, Alexandra was starting to seem distant, drifting off in the middle of conversation and complaining about strange dreams that she often confused with reality. Mrs. Hudson attempts to assure me that the police assured her these dreams were in no way related to her death. But I can't help but feel unconvinced.
In the last days before her disappearance, Jennifer wrote about experiencing strange dreams on the blog. I can't help but wonder if some of the things she wrote about in her last days were actually dreams that she couldn't discern from reality. She reported being on the crime scene of an animal mutilation that police records can't confirm ever happened, being cut off from town, stuck without cell service, radio and television signals. She said she hadn't seen another person in days despite being at home with our parents.
What if Mr. Skinn was smarter than he let on? What if the story of his mental breakdown and spontaneous killing spree was simply a show to get sent somewhere with less security, somewhere easier to escape from? Was he stalking his victims in the days before he attacked? Was he drugging them, making sure they'd be disoriented when he chose to strike? To answer all of these questions I need to know more. How smart was Henry Hopkins, really? Who is Mr. Skinn?