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Suspect Charged In Murder Of 9-Year-Old Souderton Girl

SOUDERTON, Pa. (CBS) - A 24-year-old Souderton man is being held without bail on first degree murder, kidnapping, and sexual assault charges in connection with the murder of his nine-year-old neighbor.

Montgomery County district attorney Risa Vetri Ferman says James Troutman was arrested after a detective noticed what appeared to be blood on Troutman's shoes.

"As we were searching for her, one of our detectives came across a man here who had what appeared to be blood on his shoes," said Vetri Ferman. "The detective, who is a trained crime scene investigator, took note of what appeared to be a substance. It was that sighting and discovery that led police to begin to question that individual."

According to court documents, Troutman told detectives he used his hands to choke Skyler Kauffman to death in the basement of the apartment building at Second and Chestnut Streets.

He told police, "it was like a white-out and he snapped."

After he allegedly murdered her, court documents show, he told police he put Skyler's body in a dumpster.

Authorities say the girl's family reported her missing Monday night after she didn't return home from playing with friends in the parking of her apartment complex. That is when the investigation began.

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Souderton Skyler Kauffman
A Souderton police car parked outside the scene of the murder of 9-year-old Skyler Kauffman. credit: Jim Melwert

An Amber Alert was issued and as the evening wore on, the search intensified. Police say they found evidence of a struggle in the basement of the apartment complex where she lived. Not long after, her body was found wrapped in cloth in a dumpster, just outside of the building.

Souderton Police Chief James Leary says that during the investigation, police started interviewing a man who lives in that same apartment complex and gathered an overwhelming amount of physical evidence against the suspect.

"The child obviously struggled and as a result of that, she lost her life," Leary says. "We have recovered evidence at the scene that we will be able to link to the perpetrator."

"It appears from everything that we know that the crime took place very quickly and the body was disposed of very quickly and I can't say there was anything anyone else could have done that would have been able to prevent this tragic event," said Vetri Ferman.

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Reported by Elizabeth Hur, CBS 3; Brad Segall, Jim Melwert, KYW Newsradio 1060

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