9-year-old Skylar Kauffman was abducted at around 7 p.m. local time on Monday while she was playing in the parking lot of her apartment complex in Souderton, a normally quiet borough in Montgomery County. Police later found her body in a dumpster.
“We responded to the call of a missing child. We responded to the call, took the initial complaint [and] as it got darker we became concerned,” Souderton Police Chief James Leary told WFMZ-TV. “When it became full dark we became very concerned.”
Numerous police departments and other agencies were mobilized as it became dark, and a state-wide Amber Alert was eventually issued. “We conducted a huge search of the apartment complex [and the area] and it was in the course of that search that unfortunately we found the little girl. She was deceased and she was clearly the victim of a homicide,” Leary added.
One of the girl’s neighbors, 24-year-old James Lee Troutman, came to the police’s attention while they spoke with neighbors. One detective noticed blood on Troutman’s sneakers during a second interview, after which he was taken into custody.
WTXF-TV reported that Troutman confessed to killing Kauffman because she knew she ‘could get him in trouble.’ About two weeks ago, the young girl was seen running away from the suspect’s apartment, apparently screaming and crying during that incident. It is unclear what happened.
Leary said Kauffman was found wrapped in cloth at the bottom of a dumpster near the apartment complex. “The crime scene indicates it was a violent crime. There was an assault. The child obviously struggled,” he said.
At E. Merton Crouthamel Elementary School, grief counselors met with students on Tuesday. “There is no greater loss than that of a child. Our first thoughts are with the family and friends of this student,” Souderton Area School District Superintendent Frederick Johnson said.
Troutman was charged on Tuesday with first and second degree murder, various charges of sexual assault, and false imprisonment.
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