Kidnapped Alabama girl, 12, escapes captivity, leads police to 2 decomposing bodies, an arrest

Kidnapped Alabama girl, 12, escapes captivity, leads police to 2 decomposing bodies, an arrest

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A kidnapped 12-year-old girl who escaped captivity and was found walking on the side of a road in rural Alabama helped lead police to discover two decomposing bodies at the residence where she was held, authorities said on Tuesday.

Police responded to a 911 report on Monday before 8:30 am from a driver who noticed a girl walking along a road in Dadeville, Tallapoosa County Sheriff Jimmy Abbett said at a news conference. The girl’s escape sparked a kidnapping investigation over 24 hours that led to the residence of José Paulino Pascual-Reyes, Abbett said.

The search of his mobile home in Dadeville resulted in the discovery of two decomposing bodies, Abbett said.

Pascual-Reyes, 37, was arrested in Auburn, Ala., and charged with first-degree kidnapping, three counts of capital murder and two counts of abuse of corpse. He’s being held in Tallapoosa County Jail pending a bond hearing, police said. It’s unclear whether Pascual-Reyes has an attorney.

Court documents indicate that the girl had been tied to bed posts for nearly a week, and was assaulted and drugged with alcohol, according to WSFA in Montgomery, Ala. The girl, who has not been publicly identified, had not been reported missing, Abbett said. She managed to escape when she chewed through her restraints, according to the documents.

“She’s a hero,” Abbett said of the girl.

At the news conference Tuesday, Abbett declined to give additional details regarding whether the girl had any relationship to Pascual-Reyes or when she might have been kidnapped.

“It’s a fluid investigation,” the sheriff said, adding that authorities wouldn’t address whether the girl and man knew each other “until later.” “Things are changing, and I don’t want to jeopardize the identification of our juvenile.”

Authorities also declined to share information regarding the identification and cause of death for the two bodies found at Pascual-Reyes’s home in Dadeville, located about 60 miles outside Montgomery. The remains were sent to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences for autopsies and identification.

Tallapoosa County District Attorney Jeremy Duerr told reporters that more capital murder charges could come against Pascual-Reyes.

“Once we continue and finish our investigation, I feel certain that several more charges will follow,” he said.

More than 365,000 reports of missing youths were filed into the FBI’s National Crime Information Center in 2020, according to the Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the leading clearinghouse of information about missing children in the United States, has noted that the figures show reports of missing children, not active cases, Reuters reported. As of Dec. 31, 2021, the FBI says that youths under age 18 account for about one-third of the more than 93,000 active missing-person cases.

Abbett said Pascual-Reyes had appeared to have lived in the mobile home since February. The sheriff said other people were at the home when authorities arrived but declined to share details.

“It’s horrendous to have a crime scene of this nature,” he said.

The sheriff praised the many agencies that helped in the arrest of Pascual-Reyes, including the FBI, the Tallapoosa County district attorney’s office, the Alabama State Bureau of Investigation and the Dadeville Police Department.

He also lauded the girl for her bravery in escaping captivity and pointing police toward Pascual-Reyes and the two decomposing bodies. The girl was “doing well” after receiving medical attention, the sheriff said.

“She’s safe and we want to keep her that way,” Abbett said.

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