James Chadwell II, 42, (in mug) is accused of luring a 9-year-old girl into his home on April 19 before attacking, strangling and sexually assaulting her
Police investigating the unsolved 2017 murders of two teenage girls in Delphi, Indiana, have confirmed they are ‘looking into’ a man who was arrested last week on suspicion of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 9-year-old girl in the basement of his home.
Carroll County Sheriff Tobe Leazenby told ABC News Wednesday there are ‘several factors’ leading investigators working on the cold case killings to see if there may be a connection to this month’s alleged kidnapping in nearby Lafayette.
James Chadwell II, 42, is accused of luring the 9-year-old girl into his home on April 19 to pet his dogs. He then allegedly took her down to his basement where he attacked, strangled and sexually assaulted her before police rescued the girl from his home around an hour after her disappearance.
The incident took place around 20 miles from Delphi where 13-year-old Abigail ‘Abby’ Williams and 14-year-old Liberty ‘Libby’ German were murdered back in 2017.
The two friends went missing on February 13 while hiking along the Monon High Bridge Trail in Delphi.
Their bodies were discovered the following day in woods about half a mile from the trail.
Now, more than four years on, very little is known about their murders. No suspects have been named, no arrests made and the teenagers’ causes of death and details about the crime scene continue to be kept under wraps.
Sheriff Leazenby told WRTV that investigators are ‘looking into’ Chadwell to determine if he has any connection to the unsolved murders.
‘The information has obviously been shared with us and our investigators are looking into him,’ Leazenby said.
The sheriff did not provide any further details about the possible connection.
He has urged the public not to jump to conclusions about any link, in particular through the comparison of Chadwell’s mug and the artist sketch of the Delphi killer.
Police investigating the unsolved 2017 murders of Libby German (left) and Abby Williams (right) in Delphi, Indiana, have confirmed they are ‘looking into’ Chadwell
Police released the composite sketch on the left early in the investigation. The sketch on the right was released in 2019 when police said the investigation had moved in a new direction
‘Someone looks like somebody, that obviously does not mean that is the person,’ he said.
At this point, no formal connection has yet been made between the two cases.
DailyMail.com has reached out to the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office and Indiana State Police for comment.
Chadwell was charged with multiple counts Monday over the alleged kidnapping including attempted murder, two counts of child molesting, kidnapping, criminal confinement, battery and strangulation.
According to court documents, the 42-year-old lured the girl into his home to pet his dogs on the evening of April 19.
Once inside, the suspect allegedly hit her in the head multiple times and strangled her.
‘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,’ prosecutors say.
The case has long focused on a man captured on camera on Libby’s phone walking along the abandoned railroad bridge on the day they went missing (pictured above)
Libby posted this photo of Abby on Snapchat as they walked along an abandoned railroad bridge hours before they vanished
When the girl came round, she said most of her clothes were off and Chadwell took her down to the basement where he forced her to perform sexual acts, the documents state.
The girl told police Chadwell had warned her that if she screamed or told anyone what happened he would kill her.
The girl was reported missing by her mom at around 7pm – around 30 minutes after she said she had last seen her at their home near Sagamore Parkway.
When officers were searching the neighborhood for the missing girl, Chadwell allegedly told them the girl had entered his home earlier but had left, the documents state.
Police said they asked Chadwell if they could search his home and he said yes.
Officers found the girl within an hour of her disappearance ‘visibly distraught and crying, with her clothing on the floor beside her’ in Chadwell’s basement which was locked with a chain lock, the documents state.
The girl had suffered multiple injuries and was covered in bruises, strangulation marks and had a dog bite mark on her leg.
The Monon High Bridge where Abby and Libby were last seen was blocked off by police tape in February 2017 after their bodies were found
The girls were murdered while hiking along the Monon High Bridge Trail in Delphi
Libby (left) and Abby (right) were kidnapped and killed in Delphi, Indiana. More than four years later, very little is known about their murder and no one has been arrested
Police said she told investigators she thought she was going to die.
The case has fueled questions around whether the suspect may be tied to the murders of Libby and Abby.
The two friends were dropped off at the Delphi Historic Trails to go on a hike on February 13 2017.
They were reported missing when they failed to show up when a parent came to pick them up.
A search was launched to find the teens and, the next day, their bodies were found in a secluded wooded area off the main trail.
Their cause of death has never been released by authorities.
Investigators believe the girls were approached by an unknown man while they were hanging out on a bridge along the route.
The case has long focused on a man captured on camera on Libby’s phone walking along the abandoned railroad bridge on the day they went missing.
Days after the killings, authorities released two grainy photos of the suspect found on her phone.
The man was dressed in blue jeans and a blue jacket.
Investigators also released an audio clip from her phone which they believe she recorded ‘during possible criminal activity’.
In it, the suspect is heard telling the girls: ‘Go down the hill.’
The man has never been identified.
Libby had also posted photos of herself on Snapchat walking on the bridge on the day she and Abby vanished.
Sheriff Toby Leazenby and Sgt Kim Riley confirming the bodies were those of the missing girls in 2017
Police hailed Libby as a hero for recording the evidence of their suspected killer before she died.
They released a sketch of the suspect later that year after witnesses reported seeing him in Delphi.
Two years later in 2019, investigators released a new sketch that differed to the first, citing a witness’ recollection.
Investigators said the suspect could be anywhere from age 18 to 40 with a deceptively ‘youthful appearance’. They believe the killer lives or works in the Delphi area.
Several other leads and tips have been pursued in the last four years but no other people of interest have ever turned into suspects.
This raised the reward fund for information leading to a conviction in the cold case to $325,000.
Anyone with information on the Delphi case is asked to contact [email protected]