News surrounding the murder of 9-year-old Skyler Kauffman in Souderton has gripped our area, and our colleagues at Lansdale Patch and Norristown Patch contributor Keith Heffintrayer have been covering the story closely.
Kauffman was reported missing to police at approximately 7 p.m. Monday by her mother when the girl failed to show up for dinner at 6 p.m.. Police and locals searched for the girl and, around midnight, found her body wrapped in a blanket and placed in a trash bin at the Souderton Gardens apartment complex where the family lives.
During the investigation Monday night, a detective encountered James Lee Troutman, a neighbor, who appeared to have blood on his sneaker. After a brief conversation, Troutman agreed to help with the investigation. Detectives followed Troutman to his apartment and interviewed him and his fiancee, Heather Clemens.
Statements by Clemens and Troutman led police to search for the clothes Troutman had been wearing earlier in the day. Those clothes were reportedly found in the couple's hamper, covered in blood.
Troutman initially denied any involvement, but later confessed that he had "choked her to death with (his) own hands," and that Kauffman's head hit the floor "a couple of times."
According to reports, Troutman claimed to have encountered Kauffman in the basement of the building and once inside, claimed to experience a "white-out" and to have "snapped." According to Troutman, after killing her, he "... got rid of her," by wrapping her in a blanket and throwing her body into a trash container.
According to the Montgomery County Medical Examiner, Kauffman died of asphyxia and blunt-force trauma, with sexually-related lacerations and trauma.
Troutman was arraigned Tuesday to shouts of threats and expletives by an angry mob of local residents. He is being charged with murder in the first degree, murder in the second degree, kidnapping, rape, deviate sexual intercourse with a child, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence. Troutman is being held without bail. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 19 at 1 p.m. (See court documents related to the case in our photo section. Warning: These documents contain graphic, disturbing descriptions of the crime.)
"This is one of those terribly disturbing situations where it seemingly happens out of nowhere. No criminal history to speak of, and certainly none of the typical history that we see many times in cases with these kind of allegations," said Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman.
More details about the crime, the investigation and the community outcry can be found at Lansdale Patch. Special thanks go to reporter Keith Heffintrayer for his thorough coverage of this horrific crime.