Pa. girl, 9, found dead; neighbor faces charges

SOUDERTON, Pa. (AP) — A 9-year-old girl who disappeared while playing outside her suburban apartment complex was raped, choked and murdered by a neighbor who claimed he had a “whiteout” and just “snapped,” authorities said Tuesday.

Police found the body of Skyler Kauffman in a trash bin behind her apartment in Souderton about five hours after her mother reported her missing Monday evening. A 24-year-old neighbor, James Lee Troutman, was charged Tuesday with murder, kidnapping, rape and other offenses.

Neighbors jeered as Troutman was led in and out of his arraignment at a courtroom across the street from where he allegedly killed the girl.

Troutman became a suspect after a detective canvassing the scene spotted what appeared to be blood on his sneakers, Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said. The detective then searched his apartment and found bloody clothes in a closet, Ferman said.

Detectives also found a pool of blood in the basement of the complex. They later found Skyler’s body wrapped in a comforter in a parking lot trash bin, Ferman said.

Troutman later admitted to authorities that he strangled the girl with his hands, according to the criminal complaint. He also admitted that the girl’s head hit a basement floor a couple of times, according to police. Investigators said Troutman told them, “it was like whiteout” and that he “snapped.”

Troutman did not enter a plea at his arraignment or speak, except to acknowledge the charges. He is being held without bail.

He had been brought to the courthouse in a police SUV and two police officers escorted him nearly 20 feet to its door. He was shackled and hid his face with his hands.

Across the street, a crowd of nearly 50 people yelled at him and screamed obscenities as he was led inside.

Emily Hansen said she was there because she was upset by Kaufmann’s death.

“I have a little sister. She’s 8, and she’ll be 9 soon,” she said. “It’s real upsetting. She was just a baby.”

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