Richard Joseph Hughes was born on December 28, 1976, outside Nashville, Tennessee. He is the younger son of Joe and Betty Hughes. His father is a retired mechanical engineer and his mother is a retired legal secretary. Hughes's parents moved to the Oxford area in 1991, citing the low cost of living and the attraction of a small town as their main reasons.
Rick graduated from Oxford High School in 1994 and earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from Vanderbilt University in 1998. Following his college graduation, he did a two-year internship with Newsweek magazine, primarily covering general interest topics relating to higher education and American university life.
In the fall of 2000, he returned to the Oxford area and earned a master's degree in journalism from the University of Mississippi, during which time he also served as a staff writer for the university newspaper, The Daily Mississippian. He continued to work for the newspaper for an additional year full-time as the production manager, leaving the university community in the summer of 2004 to take on the position of city reporter for the Oxford Eagle newspaper.
Hughes is single with no children. He has reportedly had different romances with locals and students, none of them ever amounting to much. Friends describe him as outgoing and generous, and his co-workers praise his friendly demeanor and strong work ethic. It's not uncommon for Hughes to work on the weekends and late into the night on an important story until its completion. Hughes is also well-known for his ability to get in-depth interviews with his subjects, often prying information out of them that has eluded police and other authorities.
Hughes lives in a small, secluded apartment right off the Oxford square and is a regular fixture in the taverns, especially if live music is on the bill. He also plays guitar and likes to write songs in his limited spare time.
Hughes's older brother Paul, 40, is a dentist in Memphis, Tennessee.