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Souderton Resident James Troutman Charged With Rape and Murder of Skyler Kauffman

Troutman states he "snapped" and choked his 9-year-old neighbor to death.

Amidst an onslaught of expletives and threats from a mob of local residents, James Lee Troutman was arraigned shortly after 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday at the Souderton District Court.

Wearing a bulletproof vest, jeans, and a T-shirt, Troutman sat silently with his head in his hands as the judge read aloud the charges, which Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman had levied against him.

The charges included 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.

The charges stem from last night's disappearance of 9-year-old Skyler Kauffman, who failed to show up for dinner with her family around 6 p.m. Monday evening.

"The investigation began initially with a call by Kauffman's mother (Heather Gebhard) to the local police shortly after 7 p.m. yesterday evening," said Ferman.

After failed attempts to locate Kauffman by both family and local police, two residents of the Souderton Garden Apartments stated they had found what they believed was a pool of blood in one of the apartment complex's common basements.

Shortly after, Montgomery County Detective Edward Schikel encountered Troutman, and noticed what he thought was blood on Troutman's right sneaker.

According to court documents, both the detective and Troutman continued their conversation, in which Troutman spoke of a previous altercation with the victim.  Troutman subsequently agreed to assist in the investigation, and led the two back to his apartment.

Upon knocking on the door, Troutman's fiancee, Heather Clemens, yelled "Come in," at which point the detective and the accused entered the residence.

Clemens stated that Troutman had left the apartment around 5 p.m., to "play games on his cell phone."  A little while later, she stated she heard a girl screaming loudly, saying "no" multiple times while crying.

Clemens described hearing a "wailing" sound, as well as "crashing sounds" and the sound of someone falling to the ground.

Clemens stated that she immediately tried to contact Troutman via cell phone, though he didn't answer. After 20 minutes, Troutman called Clemens, stating he was exercising at the Indian Crest School.

When Troutman arrived home, Clemens stated he was covered in what looked like mud, and said he had gotten dirty while working out on a football field. He then got a shower, put his clothes in a hamper in the master bedroom, and sat down with Clemens for dinner.

Detective Schikel asked to see the clothing, and Clemens escorted him to the master bedroom, where he found blood-soaked clothing in the hamper.

Later in the evening, Detective Moyer of the Franconia Township Police Department discovered the body of Skyler Kauffman wrapped in a blanket and tossed into a trash bin within the apartment complex.

Though initially denying any involvement, Troutman later admitted that he had "choked her to death with [his] own hands," while also admitting that Kauffman's head hit the floor "a couple of times."

Troutman stated that he walked Kauffman into the basement of his building, and once inside, "it was like a white-out" and he "snapped." 

After the alleged murder, Troutman stated "I got rid of her," at which point he admitted to wrapping the child in a blanket and throwing her body into a dumpster.

According to a report by the Montgomery County Medical Examiner, the cause of death was asphyxia and blunt-force trauma, with sexually related lacerations and trauma.

"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 Ferman.

Troutman is currently being held without bail, and his preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 19 at 1 p.m.

In the wake of the tragedy, residents of the area were out nearly all day Tuesday, trying to comfort one another in the aftermath of an alleged brutal murder.

"My stepson and his girlfriend actually went out looking for her after the Amber Alert," said one neighbor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

"It's just horrible. When you go after a defenseless child, screw the courts. Let the public have him. That's an innocent child that couldn't fight back," said the neighbor. "I can't imagine what her parents are going through.  My heart goes out to them."

Another resident, Lisa DeVenney, walked through the police barricade, heading toward the scene of the murder while carrying a handful of red flowers.  She was escorted off the scene, as her friend said "They should definitely hang that piece of (expletive)."

As of 7 p.m., hundreds of people were at the intersection of Second Street and Chestnut, holding a candlelight vigil, including the victim's aunt and cousin, who are selling T-shirts in an effort to raise money to pay for Kauffman's funeral.

Stay tuned to Patch for more information, as it becomes available.

ls May 16, 2011 at 06:48 PM
Thank you, Ashlee
Jill May 16, 2011 at 08:03 PM
What make me sick is when people have sympathy and compassion for a child rapist and murderer. You all may try to say that you are just tiring to understand why he did this but you put way to much energy into defending him with your talks of white outs and what ever else you try to make to cover his inexcusable crime. Your sympathy is misguided. Ashlee it is very funny that you chose to attack Tina for being religious and on not on the grounds of this forum. could it be that she is 100% correct and you have no good rebuttals. For all you know the mother was under the impression that another kids mom was out side with the children. If a child does not come home on time you look for them yourself with the neighbors for a while. That is why the cops where not called until an hour later again for all you know.
ls May 16, 2011 at 08:44 PM
To Tina, Regarding my 5/16/11.. 2:45 pm response to your posting.... Do you agree or do you NOT agree?
Ashlee May 16, 2011 at 09:07 PM
Of course! how can I leave someone getting bombarded like that when I understand where you're coming from? Even if you have children or not, you have questions. You want to know why such a sad thing happened to a very bright and happy young girl. There was no call for it, no need for it to happen, so naturally, we're confused and hope maybe someone has answers. Never expecting, to come across people who just shun us.
Ashlee May 16, 2011 at 09:29 PM
I don't care of your religious preference. The point here is, you attacked 2 people now, for their opinion. Once again, you're saying hurtful things to people you don't even know, don't you think it's a little silly? Especially for a mother, you're supposed to set an example. Also, we have a lack of humanity? Are you kidding me? You know, humanity is a vague word anymore, not a whole lot of people are very humane, look at how we treat animals..allowing them to suffer when they're older for our own sake. Everyone is selfish, we have to be a little inside. As stated by everyone on this page, we are very, deeply saddened by this tragedy but what you don't get, is you and your kids knew her. You, right now. Are sitting in the 'front row' of the spectrum. People like myself and Lois and anyone else who really didn't know her or are speaking from an outside perspective, are in the 'back row' it's once again, a matter of perspective. (by the way, way to use my terms to validate your own argument.)
ls May 16, 2011 at 09:32 PM
Regarding Christopher-Michael Snyder's 5:01 pm post on May 14, 2011: Christopher's explanation was very informative and also held an extremely important piece of advice, in the one sentence. We thank you.
Jill May 16, 2011 at 09:36 PM
Ashlee you are guilty of all you accused Tina of and blind to that fact. You all are on her spouting out crap that the family will see and read if not already. In reading these posts I have come to see that you all have victimized him more then the family. You try to appear smart with all you "brain talk" like you know what you are speaking of and then you call some one stupid for this !!!!!!!. Seems to me you may wish to look in the mirror. This is the last time I will wast time with you all on this. You wish ppl would see your side but have no interest in looking past you side yourself. Then you make judgment on ppl after admitting to only reading a few lines of what they say. this is juvenile. You may respond if it will make you feel better but I promise it will not be read by me.
Ashlee May 16, 2011 at 09:43 PM
Who EVER said we were defending him? YOU DID. And to make assumptions like that about someone is so blinded. The way she was speaking to Lois did seem like she was condemning her or trying to throw the fear of god in her face.. God forbid someone has an opinion who doesn't agree with you. And Tina, the '!!!!!!' just proves your intelligence. The main point here is, we're all sad about what happened, we ALL wish the family only the best. We want him to suffer. Jill, I attacked her BECAUSE she was pretty much preaching to Lois for no apparent reason but to make herself seem like the big person. I commend Lois for standing her ground. On your statement that the mother may have had someone else watching her, I'd think the mother would have said so in her interview and if someone was, she wouldn't be gone. That argument is irrelevant, sorry. Also, how do you know if Tina's 100% correct; or myself for that matter? You don't, because it's only our opinions. Lois and several others here, I see, had some questions and people like you and Tina are the reason we don't speak up..so our questions go unanswered. Sorry, but I believe in freedom of speech and Lois was brave in utilizing it. Sadly, our opinions are being judged by those who don't believe in freedom of speech. Such is life, we just keep on truckin' then, shall we?
ls May 16, 2011 at 09:49 PM
My neighbor said the same thing regarding emotional and logical thinking. Very well put.
Ashlee May 16, 2011 at 10:02 PM
I can assure you, an insanity plea will not be valid in his favor. He deliberately killed a 9 yr old girl. Even convicts would frown upon that. You don't just 'snap', this WAS indeed predetermined. For why, we will never know. If you ask me, I agree, only 2 people know what really happened, but is it really wise to attack people about 'being a bad parent'?
ls May 16, 2011 at 11:04 PM
Tina?.....
Tina May 16, 2011 at 11:15 PM
ashlee I am really not going to waste anymore time on you or Lois.No one is taking away freedom of speach!!!!!!!! My intelligence really coward? The questions you have we all have but it is not our place to question a Mother who is suffering the loss of a child. Do any of us feel what this family is going thru? I would not wish this suffering on anyone. I am defending a family who is at the very least heart broken,I have nothing to gain or lose. I did not say we knew her my 9 year old daughter did so pay attention to what you are fighting over.I do not want a front row seat because this is not a movie this is one of lifes most upsetting lessons,instead of bashing the people left behind learn from it. For the record my !!!!!!!!! is simply because I can't smack people like you and Lois upside the friggen head!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! None of us will ever understand any of this and it is not our place to do so. Don't you think the Mother has her own questions? Don't you think the guilt of turning her back is killing her? Get a grip ladies this is not about any of us,may this family find peace and may Mr white out suffer until the end of time. as for you F off
Jill May 16, 2011 at 11:18 PM
Lois you brought up the charities on the other article you commented on. How ever the money is spent I do not believe the ppl donating care. Now to make it so I stop getting emails from this
Tina May 16, 2011 at 11:22 PM
@ Lois of course a charity in her name would be great............. but the family just burried her today. give them the time to come to terms with the loss of a 9 year old innocent child! You me or anyone else has no right to question anything they have done.
Christopher-Michael Snyder May 17, 2011 at 03:02 AM
I've calmed this down at least once before and I shall try again. I know that I've seen some references to past comments that Lois has made. If you read through the discussions on here between her and myself you will hopefully see that I've helped her come to terms to some extent. And that's how we left it. The main point of this 'forum' should be to help all seek solace even for those of us who weren't personally involved. When I was younger I lived on Hillside Ave in Souderton but that's about the closest I come. I currently do not have children but I hope to one day so I can still relate to some degree. Even for those that have a strong relationship with God should also seek help from our peers. I would do anything that I could to help. It's just hard for me to read bashing in the comments section of an article which proclaims that a monster took a little girl's life. As I have stated several times: while we may question several things (remember that hindsight is 20/20) there is no one to blame but James Troutman. There may have been lapses in judgment on the part of many people for two months. But let that not take away from where the blame lies. If anyone has questions I can do my best to answer them. I have a lot of information. But again only two people and God knew what happened as a whole. But I'd do my best to help.
Lori May 17, 2011 at 04:24 AM
As much as I would love to state what I really think, all I will say is that I'm glad I'm not his judge.
rob May 17, 2011 at 01:59 PM
I think we can all agree that Lois is a pinhead, and obviously doesn't have much going on...A few fries short from a happy meal you might say.... I just thank god or who ever (don't wanna be called a bible thumber) that the majority of the people out there are good, caring loving people like Jill and Tina. And most sane people agree that there is no one else to blame besides the the sick bastard that did this! No and's, if's of but's about it. I have 5 year old daughter and can't even imagine something so awful. Lil Skyler will always be in my heart.
Tina May 17, 2011 at 02:22 PM
I did not comment on this page for bashing anyone but again my skin crawls that we as outsiders try tounderstand the actions of the monster who took the life of a little girl. I am only speaking as a mom of a victim of a horriable crime,in which the montgomery county Da is involved. My2 older daughetrs can not attend school because 1 of the sick bastards still attends even after pleadng guilty to the crime(sentencing will be July 20th) it seems tome the victim is always to blame! I still have my child but the scars she will carry are forever. I am not signing in to this anymore for Ihave said all I need to say. May this family find peace and this little girl be at rest and this sick monster burn
AC krypton May 18, 2011 at 05:58 AM
let me alone with that asshole and ill kill him slow ..rip off his figernails stick them with needles..nails throught his penis and balls , a worn out old wooden baseballbat in his ass.. ill keep it going for a month ..everyday
AC krypton May 18, 2011 at 06:04 AM
i live down the street from where it all happened . i knew the mother years ago , never knew skyler .. i attended the viewing .. no one should ever have shit like that in their head..to do that to a child is sick . he needs to be tourchered..what he did to skyler , needs to be done to him except death
Frances May 18, 2011 at 01:07 PM
Troutman's background should be thoroughly looked into. I knew him years ago. My child refused to play with him as Troutman had tried to hug my child in a lingering manner and went to touch my child in an inappropriate place. Troutman has had problems since he was a small child n was in Horsham clinic twice before the age of 12. He tried to sexually molest his own siblings, as well as neighborhood children. He tried to molest a girl while on a school bus. This action caused him to spend several years in a delinquent facility near Lancaster. All this while he was a child! So now he's autistic? Really? If indeed he is, that will never excuse nor explain his premeditated behavior n serial history of being a sexual predator. He slipped thru the cracks of the system, and a child, her family, and a community suffered. I don't want my tax dollars supporting him. The death penalty for him is appropriate!
Jen May 18, 2011 at 08:22 PM
I think they should be looking at the parents more closely because they don't seem near upset enough for 2 people whose 9-year-old daughter just got murdered and thrown in a dumpster. Where were they when you are supposed to teach your kids not to talk to strangers and especially not to go into strangers houses. All they can do is blame it on the police. Are you kidding me?????????
Raymond A Hopkins May 19, 2011 at 12:57 AM
Jen...No one is to blame except the man who killed Skylar. It was not her parents fault. When the first event happened, the police were called. People need to stop looking for anyone to BLAME except the man who killed her. Not the police, parents, community, Skylar, her friends, their family, people who heard things that evening who remembered it in hindsight. NO ONE IS TO BLAME BUT THE PERSON WHO COMMITED THIS CRIME!!!
Abby May 19, 2011 at 04:01 PM
I want to be very clear about something after reading these responses. James Troutman has a very long history of sexual assault on children. This did not come out of nowhere and he is not autistic and does not have an undiagnosed mental health issue other than being a sexual deviant. I worked in a juvenile residential treatment facility where he was placed for sexually deviant behaviors. He was able to complete the sex offender treatment program because he is a master manipulator. The true problem here lies in the fact that, when under the age of 18, if you commit a sexual crime and complete treatment without being "charged" no one will ever know what you have done. The National Sexual Offender Registry and Megan's Law do NOT extend to juveniles!! This man has been assaulting little girls for a very long time but was never seen in the eyes of the law as a sexual criminal. I worked directly with this man when he was a teenager in a treatment program for juvenile sexual offenders. I remember him clearly, and I guarantee that he has assaulted many young girls through the years. This may just be the first time that he has escalated to murder. As far as his fiancee hearing the wailing and crying from the basement, I am sure that James Troutman chose a woman that was easily manipulated so that she would never question him on his "activities". I am not defending her, but I am pretty sure she is not the sharpest tack in the box.
Frances May 19, 2011 at 11:54 PM
Thank you, Abby, for your comments. In this case, his juvenile record needs to be brought forward. This man has a long history of deviant sexual behavior that has a direct bearing on this case. Our system failed us and a sexual predator was let loose in our society, and a little girl has paid the ultimate price by losing her life. I had been on friendly terms with his family years ago and many of his family members glossed over his deviant behavior and downplayed it. When his own mother was admitting there was a problem, her in laws blamed her and said she imagined it. James had incidents with boys while at Horsham Clinic. My own child said James seemed evil and never wanted to be around him again. I listened to my child and am so glad I did. What I would like to know is how no one managed to see this monster take Skyler to the basement, and why no one else heard her wailing. And Abby is right, Heather Clemens is obviously not the sharpest tack in the box. The police should charge her for her role in this travesty. What did she think when he came home in bloody clothes? Did she think he'd been finger painting? I think the DA should listen to public outcry and coerce the judge to allow his juvenile records to come into play.
Keith Heffintrayer June 06, 2011 at 06:01 PM
Frances, I'd like to speak with you in more detail regarding the juvenile record and prior acts. Can you email me your contact info? slavetologic@gmail.com
Milton Pugh June 18, 2011 at 11:59 PM
The man was no stranger to the child ,nor to the family. No telling but this was not his first apporach to the child. My prayer to the family
Angelica March 19, 2012 at 09:46 PM
IM not defending what he did at all its truly horrible but autism/aspergers cause black out moments where people do things where they forget.Yes its true my son attacked my son once whne fighting and he truly didnt remember it.Only medication after the fact and counseling then he started to remember and remorsed. The guy had a girlfriend.hes had a history of mental illness,obviously wasnt taking his medication..My heart goes out to the fasmily it truly does but the truth is autism /aspergers is real and it should factor into his sentencing and he should be put into a mental health facility the rest of his life not into a prison. ...
Nerissa October 02, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Angelica, maybe YOU need to be placed in a mental health facility for thinking that this monster shouldn't spend his life rotting to shit in prison. I also know people with Aspergers/Autism. Guess what, Angelica?! THEY KNOW RIGHT FROM WRONG. Get a life and stop defending this ass hole.
Robelli April 07, 2013 at 12:41 PM
Ok lemme give you some insight here...... I knew this man, or I thought I did. He's not a man, he's a boy, he was babied his entire life and developed a couple learning disabilities. Then, this guy touched his little sister. His shit family defended him and drove the sister to become a drug addict whore who has a bad self-esteem problem. Seeing this, she became the only one to speak up as her twin sister was also touched but didn't want the ridcule. It wasn't until "jimmy" as the family calls him caught him touching his very young (toddler) half sister and sent him to what I was told was called " the summit school" that was supposed to "fix" him. So when little sister who spoke out still couldn't forgive him, the family belittled her until she was forced away from their former home in Telford. So before you defend anything let it be know that this kid was fucked up from the start

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