Delphi 'Snapchat murder' investigators looking at suspect James Chadwell 'who locked up missing girl, 10, in basement

AUTHORITIES are piecing together the chance for any connection to the unsolved 2017 slayings of two best friend teenage girls who died while hiking and a kidnapping suspect who was charged this week for sexually violating a 10-year-old girl in his chained-up lair.

There are “several factors” that are helping investigators pin the murders of best friends, Abby Williams and Libby German, to the recent booking of kidnapping suspect, James Chadwell III, according to an ABC News interview on Wednesday with Carroll County Sheriff Tobe Leazenby.

The 42-year-old Lafayette, Indiana man stands accused of luring a 10-year-old girl into his home to pet his dogs back on April 19.

Chadwell allegedly forbade the child from leaving and proceeded to strangle and molest her in a basement for an hour before authorities managed to rescue her. 

Officers were searching the neighborhood and spoke with James Chadwell II, who allegedly said the girl had been at his home earlier, but had since left, according to the probable cause affidavit reported by the network.

Police asked Chadwell, 42, for his permission to check his home, and Chadwell allowed the officers inside, the document said.




In his basement – which was secured with a chain lock – officers found the missing girl, who was "visibly distraught and crying, with her clothing on the floor beside her," the document said.

The girl "said Chadwell tried to kill her," according to the affidavit, reported by ABC News.

Chadwell’s capture has prompted the investigators to compare hallmarks in the killings of Williams and German in Delphi – some 20 miles away – with the alleged savagery committed on the child. 

Sheriff Leazenby told the news network there “might be” a connection, but so far no hard link. 

Indeed, nobody has been charged for the murders of Delphi eighth-graders that occurred on Feb. 13, 2017, while they were hiking along a local trail.

Authorities scoured the neighborhood where the 10-year-old girl went missing and when they descended on Chadwell’s home, they learned the child had some kind of interaction.

That’s because Chadwell allegedly admitted that the child swung by his property earlier but left, according to ABC News, quoting the probable cause affidavit. 

They pressed the man to search his home and he permitted them to enter, according to the report.

Once officers headed toward Chadwell’s chain-linked locked basement – they discovered the missing girl, who was described as "visibly distraught and crying, with her clothing on the floor beside her," according to ABC News.

When the girl was asked about what happened she allegedly told them Chadwell used his dogs as petting props, before striking her on the head several times and then she said he “tried to kill her” by putting her head in a chokehold. 

The child told authorities she blacked out and was bitten, bruised and sexually assaulted, the papers say, according to the network.

Chadwell is facing attempted murder, child molestation and kidnapping charges.

His public defender entered a not guilty plea and is due back in court on June 10, ABC News reported.

As for the Delphi murders,which left an indelible mystery after one of the two photos posted on Snapchat by Libby showed Abby crossing an abandoned railroad bridge.

Abby and Libby, 13 and 14, as they were known by pals and kin, were found dead near a river by a search party about 18 hours after they had been reported missing on their remote hike.

As the pursuit of their killer or killers was underway shortly afterward, authorities released a grainy photo of a potential person of interest.

In 2019, authorities updated their suspicion that the man in the photo was navigating the same trail on the day the girls went missing. 

They subsequently released a short video clip pulled from Libby's phone depicting a grainy image of the suspect walking on the bridge nearby where the two girls were last seen alive.

"We're a very tight-knit family with love pouring throughout our lives,” Mike Patty, Libby's grandfather, said back in 2017. “Our minds at this stage are stirred in the deepest sorrow you can imagine.

"It is my sincere hope that no one experiences what my family is going through at this time.

"Liberty was taken from us and this will forever be a void in our souls. Yet we find faith in our God.

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