“I Got Rid of Her” Suspect Tells Police

Cops say this was not the first encounter: Skyler was locked in suspect's apartment 2 weeks ago

"I got rid of her."

That's what 24-year-old James Troutman told police about 9-year-old Skyler Kauffman, according to court documents.

The Souderton man abducted, raped, beat and strangled the third grader while police searched for the little girl Monday night, Montgomery District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman says.

“An autopsy was conducted earlier today. We found that Skyler died from asphyxia as well as blunt force trauma,” says Ferman. “She had significant genital injuries to her body as well."

The coroner listed the manner of death as "homicide" on Skyler's death certificate.

"Last night while I was eating dinner she was getting strangled," said Skyler's father Eric Kauffman. "Where’s the justice in that."

Troutman was arrested on charges of murder, kidnapping and rape of a child less than 16 hours after an Amber Alert went out for 9-year-old Skylar in the Montgomery County town.

Disturbingly, this was not the first contact between Troutman, who was a neighbor, and the little girl. Police responded to a complaint April 18 after Skyler and another girl used Troutman's bathroom. According to the complaint, the girls noticed naked photos of women on the wall and when Troutman asked if they wanted to see "his bird" they tried to leave but the door was locked. The girls opened the door and ran to tell their parents, police say.

"It could have been prevented, said Skyler's mother Heather Gebhard. "My daughter would still be here."

Skyler was last seen around 5:30 Monday night -- she was playing with friends around her apartment complex near 2nd and Chestnut Streets in Souderton but she never came home for dinner, authorities say.

Police searched a bordering cemetery and the local area for the young girl and found a trail of Skyler’s bloody clothes, authorities say.

She was found dead in a dumpster, wrapped in a blanket, police say.

"What did she do to him," Gebhard said. "It’s my only child -- nobody can bring her back."

Police say that Troutman snatched the third grader, dragged her to a basement in an apartment building and raped her.

While interviewing Troutman during the search for Skyler, police say they saw blood on Troutman’s shoe. Later, Troutman told investigators that he killed the girl, wrapped her in a blanket and tossed her in a dumpster on the property, according to court papers.

Troutman’s girlfriend told police that she heard a child screaming “No!” and a loud crash from the basement, court documents say.

“This crime was of such violence that there is an incredible volume of physical evidence... that will link him to the victim and link him and the victim to the crime,” said Souderton Police Chief James P. Leary.

Details about Troutman continue to trickle in. On Tuesday night, Telford Volunteer Fir Company Chief Raymond Fegley confirmed that Troutman was a probationary member of the company from January to June 2010 but resigned when he moved to Souderton. 

Here is a mugshot of the accused:

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