Authorities are looking into whether an Indiana man accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 9-year-old girl might be connected to the 2017 killings of two teenagers in the state, according to reports on Wednesday.
James Chadwell II, 42, was arrested in Lafayette on April 19, after police found the child locked in his basement, about an hour after she went missing, the Journal & Courier reported.
Prosecutors allege Chadwell lured her into his home with the promise that she could pet his dog — and then beat, strangled and sexually assaulted her.
The incident took place about 20 miles from Delphi, where 13-year-old Abigail “Abby” Williams and 14-year-old Liberty “Libby” German were murdered on Feb. 13, 2017.
Investigators believe the eight-graders were abducted by their killer while walking on a local hiking trail. Their bodies were discovered the next day in woods not far from the trail.
No arrests have been made or suspects named in the four years since, and details of how the girls died and their injuries have never been released to the public.
Carroll County Sheriff Tobe Leazenby told ABC News on Wednesday that there are “several factors” leading authorities to look for possible links between the two cases — but wouldn’t divulge any details.
Leazenby said investigators are “looking into” Chadwell to see if their might be a connection.
“The information has obviously been shared with us and our investigators are looking into him,” he told local outlet WRTV.
Chadwell isn’t the first alleged kidnapper who has been probed as a person of interest in the Delphi murders. None of the others became official suspects.
He has been charged with with attempted murder, child molesting, attempted child molesting, kidnapping, criminal confinement, battery resulting in serious bodily injury and strangulation.