Kidnap Suspect Bound 4-Year-Old, Locked Her In A Box & Was Looking For More Kids: Cops

Thomas Dewald told police he was targeting children who lived in “deplorable conditions” and that he broke into a second home to snatch kids a few nights later.

May 02, 2019
Mug shot of Thomas Dewald [Franklin County Jail]

Photo by: Mug shot of Thomas Dewald [Franklin County Jail]

Mug shot of Thomas Dewald [Franklin County Jail]

By: Mike McPadden

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WAYNESBORO, PA — A 20-year-old man is accused of entering a family’s home through an unlocked front door, abducting a four-year-old girl from her bed, and then binding the child with tape and stuffing her inside a wooden box at his grandparents’ house, according to the police.

Thomas Dewald told authorities he had been checking out neighborhoods for children to kidnap, focusing on kids playing outside without adult supervision and who lived in “deplorable conditions.” He also reportedly targeted areas with “no security cameras nearby.”

Police say Dewald slipped into the child’s home in the early hours of April 25 and took her back to his grandparents’ home, where he had been staying for the past several weeks. Dewald allegedly said he also considered abducting the girl’s older brother, but he looked “too heavy” to carry down the stairs without incident.

The girl’s parents reported her missing at about 3:30 A.M.

According to the arrest affidavit, Dewald told detectives he laid in bed next to the child at his grandparents’ home and that he “might” have touched her inappropriately. The affidavit states that Dewald later masturbated near the girl.

Dewald then allegedly bound the girl’s wrists and ankles, covered her mouth with tape, and put her inside a wooden trunk, saying he’d be back from work around noon. Before leaving, Dewald reportedly stuck the trunk under an air-conditioning unit.

Remarkably, the child managed to free herself and escape the situation at around 9:30 A.M. Thursday morning, after which she made it to safety.

On Monday, a state trooper went to the red brick home of Dewald’s grandparents based on the child’s descriptions of her surroundings. Dewald’s grandmother said that she had looked in on his bedroom the previous Thursday and heard what sounded like a baby crying near the AC unit, but she was unable to pinpoint the source of the sound.

The trooper asked if he could see the spot where the crying had come from and, according to the affidavit, “While observing the bedroom, (the trooper) was able to observe a large wooden chest directly under the air conditioning unit in the bedroom." Inside the chest, the trooper reportedly found grass, dirt, and a strip of black tape covered with blonde hair resembling to the victim’s.

After being arrested, Dewald confessed to kidnapping the girl. Authorities say he also admitted to breaking into another home on Sunday night intending to abduct the three children inside. Dewald reportedly changed his mind after deeming their living conditions acceptable and hearing the family dog bark.

While state troopers took Dewald on a “perp walk” in front of media cameras, he appeared to make an obscene gesture toward the press.

Dewald now faces multiple charges in both incidents, including kidnapping, criminal attempt kidnapping, burglary, false imprisonment, unlawful restraint, criminal trespass, and indecent assault. Investigators are also looking to determine if Dewald might be involved in other unsolved crimes.

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