(DELPHI, Ind.) — Investigators who for years have been working to solve the killings of two girls in Delphi, Indiana, are looking into a kidnapping suspect in nearby Lafayette, Indiana, to see if there “might” be a connection, the sheriff said.
There are “several factors” leading police working the 2017 Delphi killings to look into this month’s alleged kidnapping of a 10-year-old girl, Carroll County Sheriff Tobe Leazenby told ABC News on Wednesday.
Leazenby declined to go into detail and stressed that there’s no specific link at this point. He said Delphi investigators are following up like they have on several other potential leads over the years.
No arrests were ever made in the slayings of Delphi eighth-graders Abby Williams and Libby German, who were killed on Feb. 13, 2017, while walking on a local hiking trail.
In Lafayette — about 20 miles away from Delphi — a 10-year-old girl was reported missing on April 19, 2021, according to the probable cause affidavit filed on Tuesday.
Officers were searching the neighborhood and spoke with James Chadwell II, who allegedly said the girl had been at his home earlier, but had since left, according to the probable cause affidavit.
Police asked Chadwell, 42, for his permission to check his home, and Chadwell allowed the officers inside, the document said.
In his basement — which was secured with a chain lock — officers found the missing girl, who was “visibly distraught and crying, with her clothing on the floor beside her,” the document said.
The girl “said Chadwell tried to kill her,” according to the affidavit.
She told police that she was in Chadwell’s home petting his dogs, and then he attacked her, hitting her in the head multiple times, the document said.
The girl said “Chadwell was also choking her with his hands on her neck and also using his arm in a headlock, to the point where she passed out,” according to the affidavit.
The girl said “most of her clothes were off when she regained consciousness, and Chadwell took her into the basement,” where he sexually assaulted her, the document said.
She suffered bite marks, strangulation marks on her neck, black eyes and bruising on her head, arms and legs, according to the document.
Chadwell faces charges including attempted murder, child molestation, kidnapping and strangulation, according to records.
A not guilty plea was entered on Chadwell’s behalf. His next hearing is set for June 10. His public defender did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.
Meanwhile, in Delphi, there are still no answers.
How Abby, 13, and Libby, 14, died has still not been released to the public.
Soon after the murders, authorities released a grainy image of the suspect, who they say was on the trail the day the girls went missing. State police in 2019 released video footage from Libby’s phone — the brief video clip shows a grainy image of the suspect walking on the bridge near where the girls were last seen.
Police also publicized the suspect’s voice — a recording of him saying “down the hill” — which was recovered from Libby’s phone.
Police in 2019 released a new suspect sketch that officials said was based on a witness’ recollection of what he or she saw.
Leazenby on Wednesday urged the public not to do a “side-by-side comparison” with the Delphi sketch and the Lafayette kidnapping suspect.
“Someone looks like somebody, that obviously does not mean that is the person,” he said.
This year an anonymous donor added $100,000 to the reward fund in Abby and Libby’s case, Leazenby said. The reward is now up to $325,000.
Anyone with information on the Delphi case is asked to contact [email protected].
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