Four-year-old girl escapes after man kidnapped her and locked her in a wooden chest in his grandparent's house
20-year-old Thomas Dewald allegedly entered the unlocked front door of the child’s Philadelphia home and snatched her from her bed and later on bound her with tape at his grandmother's residence and locked her in a wooden chest in his bedroom.
A Pennsylvania man was sent to prison after he kidnapped a four-year-old girl from her home, bound her hands, wrists, and ankles with tape before stuffing her into a wooden trunk at his grandparent's residence.
20-year-old Thomas Dewald allegedly entered the unlocked front door of the child’s Philadelphia home and snatched her from her bed.
Dewald said he was looking for unsupervised children in the neighborhood who were living in "deplorable conditions,” per a criminal complaint obtained by People.
Early morning on April 25, the girl's father called the police to report her missing, saying he had put his daughter to bed at around 7.30 pm. He said he woke up at around 3 am to find his daughter's bedroom door cracked open and left ajar. According to police, the girl somehow managed to escape just hours after she was abducted. She was later found along a roadway close to Dewald's grandparents' residence -- two and a half miles away from her home in the Washington Township. Responding officers were able to locate her at 10 am that morning.
“She escaped but we don’t know how and all the circumstances with it yet,” Pennsylvania State Trooper Megan Frazer told People. “There are a lot of unanswered questions.”
On April 29, police spoke to Dewald's grandmother while investigating the kidnapping since her house matched the description given by the child. The old woman told them she had “heard what sounded like a baby crying" in her grandson's room when she went in to see if he had made his bed. “The female related the crying seemed to come from the wall with the air conditioning unit, in his bedroom,” the complaint stated.
She said she wanted to ask Dewald about where the crying was coming from but he had already left for work. When police searched the property, they discovered a large wooden chest sitting under the air conditioning unit in the bedroom. “Several large strips of long blonde hair (similar to the hair on the [victim]) was located inside the wooden chest in the bedroom,” the complaint read. Aside from the long blonde hair, police also found several large strips of black tape which contained shoe print impressions with dirt and grass.
Police were still at his home when Dewald returned. When confronted by officers, he allegedly admitted he entered the child's home through an unlocked front door and was there for about an hour before kidnapping her. After abducting the child, Dewald bound her with tape at his grandparents' residence and locked her in a wooden chest in his bedroom. He told her he would be back at noon, as per the complaint. However, when he returned later, he realized the girl had escaped. According to court documents, Dewald confessed that he had broken into another home on Sunday, intending to nab one of the three children there, but saw that they lived in good conditions. Moreover, since he was frightened by the family dog. He also put tape on the bottom of his shoes so he wouldn’t leave shoe prints, the affidavit said.
On April 30, he was charged with kidnapping, criminal attempt kidnapping, burglary, false imprisonment, unlawful restraint, criminal trespass and indecent assault. Dewald is currently being held in Franklin County Jail without bail and is scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on May 14.