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Convicted Rapist And Attempted Murderer Is A New Person Of Interest In The Delphi Murders Case

Photo: ABC7 Chicago
Abigail and Liberty German

James Brian Chadwell II, 42, a convicted child molester with an extensive criminal past, is being looked at as a potential suspect in the Delphi murders.

On April 19 in Lafayette, Indiana, Chadwell lured a 9-year-old neighborhood girl into his home by promising she could pet his dogs. He led her to the basement, then beat her, sexually assaulted her, and began to strangle her.

Chadwell was in the act when the police came back knocking after the girl was seen near his home. Once inside, authorities found the chain locked door to the basement.

After breaking it down, they heard the girl crying and entered to find her with strangulation marks on her neck and dog bites on her leg. She told the police that Chadwell tried to kill her.

Chadwell was charged with attempted murder, child molestation, attempted child molestation, kidnapping, criminal confinement, battery resulting in serious bodily injury, and strangulation.

At the end of his hearing, he asked, "Who do I speak with about a psychological evaluation?"

Since his arrest, investigators are looking at Chadwell as a potential person of interest in the Delphi murders.

On February 13, 2017, Abigail Williams, 13, and Liberty German, 14, went on an afternoon hike together on the Delphi Historic Trails in Delphi, Indiana. But they never made it to their pick-up spot.

Their bodies were found the next day in a wooded area not far from the Monon High Bridge.

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Very few details of the case have been made public, the girls' cause of death being one of them, but over time, investigators have released a few pieces of information in the hope that someone in the public could help identify the murderer.

There was a video on Abigail’s phone of a man walking and audio of him saying, “Guys, down the hill.”

Investigators believe that the man in the video is the murderer and could be from Delphi.

In 2020, Sergeant Kim Riley of the Indiana State Police told IndyStar that it's important to the case to keep several details of the investigation from the public.

"When we have the person we want, we want to know what they know about the case. That’s why we've held back on the information that we've given out."

But in a new statement, Carroll County Sheriff Tobe Leazenby said investigators are now looking into potential links between Chadwell and the Delphi murders.

“The information [regarding Mr. Chadwell] has been shared with us and our investigators are looking into him."

Kelsi German, sister of victims Abigail and Liberty, stressed her concern about sharing the suspect's sketch on social media.

“It’s happened many, many other times, too, and, unfortunately, sometimes when people see that they say, ‘This guy’s been caught,’ ‘It has to be that person,’ and that’s just not the case. It can’t be that way with every single person that has committed a crime,” German said.

In the interest of public safety and because law enforcement has asked that anyone who recognizes the man in the sketch reach out to them, we've made the decision to include the images below at this time.

At the time of his arrest this year, Chadwell lived 20 miles away from Delphi.

And April 16, he contributed to the viral hoax spreading through TikTok alleging April 24 was being declared "National Rape Day."

Chadwell made a post in which he claimed people posting about the trend on TikTok were only in it for the hype.

"Nobody does that," he said of the would-be rapists in his since-deleted video. "If they do, we f***ing kill them.”

On April 18, he followed up with another since deleted clip in which he said, "“So to all you little kids out there…my nose doesn’t look like this because I cut myself shaving. If you want some, come get some. Quit preying on the little people. There’s more than enough to go around. Come find me or I will find you.”

One day later, he went on to beat and sexually assault a child.

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People online have suggested there may be a connection between Chadwell's tattoos and the girls who went missing on the Delphi Trails.

One of his tattoos is of a girl crying what appears to be blood, and people on social media have been comparing it to images of Liberty.

Chadwell's most recent arrest put him on detectives' radar regarding the Delphi case, but his violent criminal past dates back to at least the early 2000s in Indiana and South Dakota.

In 2000, he was found guilty of battery and criminal recklessness.

In 2001, he was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

In 2003, he was convicted of aggravated assault.

In 2016 and 2017, he had convictions for receiving stolen property.

And in 2020, he was convicted of drunk driving, criminal trespassing and resisting law enforcement.

Back in 2017, he was living in Kokomo, Indiana, 34 miles from Delphi when the murders took place.

There is no evidence yet that specifically links Chadwell to the Delphi murders, but there are several details about his life that make him a potential person of interest.

The specific request for help from law enforcement, along with detailed instructions, reads as follows:

"Indiana State Police ask anyone who has any information about Libby and Abby's murders or who recognizes the man in the image, video, audio or sketch to reach out.

Remember the following things when submitting a tip:

Be specific as possible to a description.

Name and age if possible.

A connection to Delphi and that person’s location or address at this time.

Leaving information on how we can contact you for possible clarification of your tip is helpful but not required.

Tips can remain anonymous."

Anyone with information about the case should send an email to abbyandlibbytip@cacoshrf.com or call toll-free at 1-844-459-5786, Indiana State Police at 1-800-382-7537, or Carroll County Sheriff at 1-765-564-2413.

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Leeann Reed is a writer who covers news, pop culture, and love, and relationship topics.