On day James Lee Troutman pleads guilty, Skyler Kauffman still mourned

The scene of the gruesome May 2011 murder was quiet yesterday, though some community members gathered where Skyler was found dead near the apartment complex she called home.

The Montgomery County man accused of strangling and dumping a 9-year-old girl’s body last year will spend the rest of his life in prison after pleading guilty yesterday.

James Lee Troutman, 25, admitted to killing Skyler Kauffman after sexually assaulting her in the basement of the apartment complex where they both resided on May 9, 2011. Authorities found Skyler’s body inside a Dumpster wrapped in a blanket hours after her mother reported her missing.

John “Inky” White, of Bikers Against Child Abuse, said he has followed the case since Troutman’s arrest. He believes that a full trial would have only caused more pain for Skyler’s family.

“I couldn’t even handle what I was hearing” at the preliminary hearing, White said, as he and other bikers gathered outside the apartment to remember Skyler. “For the family, Amen, [prosecutors] couldn’t have done a better job.”

Troutman’s attorney claimed that his client had been in and out of institutions since he was a young child due to mental instability. He was allegedly investigated several times for inappropriate sexual contact with minors, including a few weeks before the murder when he reportedly tried to lock Skyler and another girl in his apartment. Skyler’s mother called police, but charges were never filed.

Residents said it is still hard to believe such a crime happened in their quiet community.

“I still like Souderton, I’m just amazed and dumbfounded it happened in Souderton, but it can happen anywhere” Haggerty said. “He’s not wrapped tight, so that know any geographic boundaries.”

Never gonna see the light of day

Troutman pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, kidnapping, abuse of a corpse and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse. Under Troutman’s plea agreement, he will not face the death penalty, but instead automatically receives life in prison without the chance of parole.

Community members in the small town were shocked by the murder. Some said yesterday that the life sentence was fitting for such a gruesome crime.

“I’m happy he’s never gonna see the light of day,” Souderton resident John Haggerty said.


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