Tuesday, May 10, 2011
James Troutman identified as killer of Souderton 9-year-old Skylar Kauffman; prayer vigil tonight♥
Souderton police have arrested 25-year-old James Lee Troutman, a neighbor, who has been charged in the abduction and killing of 9-year old Skylar Kauffman.
A prayer vigil will be held at 203 Chestnut St., Souderton, at 7 p.m. today for the young girl. Grace Bible Church has also invited the community to gather at the church at 423 N. Main St., Souderton, across from Souderton park, to pray from 6 to 7 p.m. in the main sanctuary.
After initial interviews, police said, they found inconsistencies in the suspect's story. Police said the suspect did not seem affected by the events. Through their investigation, police said, they had enough information to take him into custody.
Troutman is being arraigned this afternoon, across the street from the Souderton Gardens apartment complex where both Kauffman and the man lived.
Souderton Police Chief James Leary said, “We know what this is, but we can’t say it’s a homicide until the coroner says it’s a homicide”.
Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, who was away attending a law enforcement conference, is headed back to the county to lead the filing of the charges, Leary said.
“Everybody in Souderton” was involved in the search, including police from several local departments, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s office and Souderton’s Perseverance Volunteer Fire Company, Leary said. An Amber Alert had been issued about 7 p.m.
A police officer found Kauffman’s body in a trash bin around midnight Monday night, police said.
The suspect, who also lived in the apartment complex, has been taken into custody.
Police said he had blood on his shoes and acted strangely when questioned. Kauffman apparently tried to fight off the attacker and there was quite a bit of blood that led to the container in which her body, wrapped in a blanket, was found, police said.
Kauffman, who lived with her mother, Heather Kauffman, was a student at E.M. Crouthamel Elementary School in Souderton. The little girl would have turned 10 next month.
Souderton Area School District initiated its crisis response plan after learning of the news, according to a press release.
“Additional counselors and school psychologists are on hand at the school to assist students and staff as they mourn Skyler’s death. Administrators and support staff throughout the district are responding to the profound impact this tragedy is having on the entire school community,” the release notes.
“We want her family to know that our thoughts are with them in this difficult time. In our profession nothing is more heartbreaking than the death of one of our students. We share the family’s grief, and our thoughts and prayers are with them,” District Superintendent Dr. Frederick Johnson said.
The possibility of a video arraignment was earlier raised, but it now appears the arraignment will take place at District Judge Kenneth Deatelhauser’s office, which is across from the street from the apartment complex at Second and Chestnut streets.
Kauffman had been reported missing last evening. Her body was found wrapped in a blanket and dumped in a vacant lot last night.
According to police, her body was found around midnight.
"She was out playing. She didn't return for dinner. She was quite late. Her family became concerned. They contacted us. As it darkened, we became concerned. When it became full dark, we were very concerned," Leary said. "We mobilized our forces, and we conducted a very, very careful search of the general area and a very specific search of the local area. And unfortunately we found her body in the Dumpster."
A significant amount of blood and a trail with some of Kauffman's belongings, including her boots, led police from the apartment building's basement to the area where her body was found wrapped in a blanket, Leary said.
Police reported that it appeared the little girl had fought off her attacker.
The search started around North Second and East Chestnut streets, Souderton. She was last seen playing on a playground there at around 5:30 p.m., according to the alert. Multiple departments were involved in the search.
Anyone with further information can call Souderton Police at 215-723-6500.
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