A 4-year-old girl was abducted from her bed at night, and bound and stuffed into a trunk by a 20-year-old man in Pennsylvania on April 25.
Thomas Dewald picked up the child from her home in Washington Township, Franklin County, and first brought her to his home before driving her to his grandparents home where he bound her with tape and stuffed her inside a trunk, reported Fox News.
He lived a mile away from where the girl was staying and had been searching neighborhoods for unsupervised children who he told police lived in “deplorable conditions.”
— MagaFirstRadio (@Maga1Radio) May 1, 2019
The child was reported missing at about 3:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 25, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Investigators said Dewald locked the child inside a wooden chest and told her he would be back from work by noon, but the girl escaped by 9:30 a.m. on Thursday.
She was found by a passerby 2.5 miles away from where she was being held. She was taken to Waynesboro Hospital and found to be in good health, reported ABC27.
Dewald was arrested on Monday, April 29, and faces multiple charges.
“The community affected by his cowardice actions can rest easy knowing this animal is in custody,” State police Lt. Mark Magyar said late Monday, according to Fox43.
This is 20yo Thomas Dewald who was arrested earlier this evening for abducting 4yo Gemma Moats last week. Along with all the other charges.. Dewald is charged with attempted burglary after he entered a different home yesterday. @fox43 pic.twitter.com/V6d3BkNc7S
— Lyndsay Barna (@lyndsay_barna) April 30, 2019
Dewald’s grandfather, Larry McFadden, told Fox43 that he was never aware that his grandson would be capable of such actions.
“It’s terrible, obviously… I had no idea,” he said.
McFadden said he knows Dewald as a very religious boy and he finds it hard to deal with what he has done.
“It’s pretty hard to deal with, obviously. I don’t know the grandson you’re describing, obviously,” he said. “The grandson I knew was expecting to be… starting his career, and he’s a very religious boy. At least, I thought he was, and he’s very intelligent. That’s the hard thing to accept cause this certainly isn’t intelligent. He’s going to put away in jail for the rest of his life – that’d be my guess.”
TONIGHT AT 11: I spoke with the mother of the 4-year-old Franklin County girl that was abducted, bound and put in a wood chest by 20-year-old Thomas Dewald. Hear what she has to say about the case on @abc27News pic.twitter.com/PXiwt7qn8K
— Taylor Tosheff (@TaylorABC27) May 1, 2019
Other Families Targeted
Authorities said that Deward had previously searched for children playing in their yards and in homes that had no surveillance cameras.
Deward had been known to target another family. He got inside Thom Lambert’s home through a window and watched the man’s three children sleeping. But in that incident, he left the home after the family dog started barking.
This is the house police say Thomas Dewald was living in when he allegedly kidnapped the four-year-old victim last week in Waynesboro, bound her, and placed her inside a wooden chest.
— Brian Sheehan (@BSheehanTV) April 30, 2019
“My worldview is shattered, and not any political worldview or sociological worldview… ideologically, my perception of the world is changed now. I have to be still the encourager. I have to be still the field without fences to some degree to my kids, but to the same regard, now, I also have to be vigilant in that arena, and that’s very depressing,” Lambert had said about the incident.
He said he feels sorry for whatever made Deward the way he is, and said he wanted Lambert to stay away from his family and community.