Dadeville, Ala. – A 12-year-old girl was held captive in a rural Alabama mobile home after she escaped and was discovered walking down a road, prompting an investigation that led to police discovering two decomposed bodies inside the home where she was being held, authorities said Tuesday.
José Paulino Pascual-Reyes, 37, was jailed in connection with the kidnapping, Tallapoosa County Sheriff Jimmy Abbett said at a news conference. District Attorney Jeremy Duerr said “many” additional murder charges could be filed.
A driver driving through a rural residential area spotted a child on the road Monday morning and stopped, authorities said.
The driver picked up the girl and called 911, prompting an investigation and a search that led to police officers finding two decaying bodies at the residence where Pascual-Reyes lived and the girl is believed to have been taken into custody, Abbett said. According to him, other people lived in the house, but when the police arrived, there were no other people there.
Detectives say the girl was tied to the bedposts for more than a week and given alcohol to drug her. CBS Columbus, Georgia affiliate WRBL-TV messages. Investigators say she escaped by chewing through her restraints and damaging the braces on her teeth.
Detectives believe the girl was abducted around July 24 and the suspect intended to hurt or sexually assault her, the station reports.
According to WRBL, the metal base of the motorhome was ripped off, and investigators appear to be focusing on the ground beneath the motorhome.
The man was arrested in Auburn, Abbett said. It’s unclear what information the girl may have provided to authorities, but Abbett called her a hero.
Police did not immediately release the names of the dead or the cause of death, and court records did not include the name of a defense attorney who could speak on behalf of Pascual-Reyes.
Authorities have not released any information about the girl, including whether she had any relationship with the suspect. She had not been reported missing, the sheriff said.
“We got her medical attention,” Abbett said. “She’s safe now, and we want to keep her that way.”
The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security were also involved in the investigation, WRBL reports.