A 12-year-old girl held captive in a rural Alabama residence escaped and was discovered walking along a road, prompting an investigation that led police to discover two decomposing bodies at the home where she had been kept, authorities said Tuesday.
José Paulino Pascual-Reyes, 37, was jailed on a kidnapping count, Tallapoosa County Sheriff Jimmy Abbett told a news conference. District Attorney Jeremy Duerr said “multiple” additional capital murder charges were likely.
A motorist driving through a rural residential area spotted a child on the road on Monday morning and stopped, authorities said. Court records indicate the child had been drugged and bound but managed to escape, NBC affiliate WSFA-TV reported.
The driver picked up the girl and called 911, prompting an investigation and search that led to police officers finding two decomposing bodies inside the residence where Pascual-Reyes lived and the girl was believed to be held, Abbett said. Other people lived at the residence, but no one else was there when police arrived, he said.
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The man was arrested in Auburn, Abbett said. It wasn't clear what information the girl might have provided to authorities, but Abbett called her a hero.
Police didn't immediately release the names of the dead people or a cause of death, and court records didn't include the name of a defense lawyer who could speak on behalf of Pascual-Reyes.
Authorities didn't release any information about the girl, including whether she had any relationship to the suspect. She hadn't been reported missing, the sheriff said.
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"We gave her medical attention,’’ Abbett said. “She is safe now, and so we want to keep her that way.”