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Arrest Made in Murder of 9-Year-Old Skyler Kauffman

James Lee Troutman, a neighbor, has been charged with the brutal murder of the 9-year-old Souderton girl.

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.

Area residents gathered to mourn the loss of Skyler Kauffman with a candlelight vigil Tuesday evening.

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.

Al saylor May 12, 2011 at 12:52 AM
This story, Skylar's story, is one that just doesn't leave you; it follows you around with the dawn of each day, at sunset, and in the dark of night when you're suddenly awoken by the sound of a siren or a distant crow of a bird. These things just shouldn't happen, and they leave me feeling guilty in some regards because right now, my loved ones are well. However, her story reminds me of how precious these moments are and how deeply responsible we all should be to each other .. to look out for one another and to do our best , each day, to nurture goodness and kindness and love within ourselves and to honor and respect our neighbors in town, in state, in country, and in world. Tear drop falls, Al
terry May 12, 2011 at 04:03 PM
As the adoring father of an eight year old girl, I cannot begin to comprehend the horror, grief, and rage Skylar's family and friends must be enduring. How do you go on from such a tragedy as this? How can we make this a better, safer, saner world for the generations that come after us, and look to us for guidance and protection? Certainly, we all take some small comfort in knowing that the vicious, twisted piece of human garbage who did this has been caught and will probably get his just retribution in prison, but it can't stop there. We all need to ask ourselves what part, however small, each one of us might be able to play in preventing such a horrific event from ocurring again. I plan to have a long talk with my daughter to review all the proper safety precautions and procedures she needs to practice to help keep her out of harm's way, and then pray she never has to put them to use.
chelsea May 12, 2011 at 05:29 PM
Hearing all of this makes me so sad. I never would have thought of such a thing around here. What makes it worse is he and his fiancee used to come into my work on almost a daily basis and to know i was staring in the face of such a monster and holding a conversation still drives me crazy.
Ester Trimber May 12, 2011 at 05:38 PM
What drives a person to do such a horrendous act? What is our world coming to? This murderer will not live long in our prison system. I only wish our criminal system allowed the families of victims to take matters into their own hands! My prayers and deepest sympathies to the Kauffman family.
natasha May 14, 2011 at 03:22 PM
well my friend is their cousin and you have no idea how bad i feel bad for her!

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