A 12-year-old girl who had been held captive in Tallapoosa County, Alabama, escaped Monday by chewing through her restraints, leading investigators to two decomposed bodies at the house she escaped.
At a press conference Tuesday, Tallapoosa County Sheriff Jimmy Abbett said police received a call Monday morning from a driver who encountered the girl wandering alone down County Road 34, south of the town of Dadeville.
Deputies responded and transported the girl to receive medical assistance, then searched the home, finding what Abbett described as a “horrendous” scene.
Officials told local NBC affiliate WSFA one of the victims appeared to have been smothered to death; the other beaten. A forensics team is working to confirm those details, including their identities.
The 12-year-old had been tied to bed posts for nearly a week, according to court filings, and had allegedly been drugged with alcohol and assaulted in the “head area.” She managed to escape by chewing herself free.
José Paulino Pascual-Reyes, 37, was arrested in Auburn on Monday by the U.S. Marshals Service and Auburn Police, and faces three counts of capital murder and two counts of abusing a corpse.
“We’re looking at multiple counts of capital murder, along with kidnapping in the first degree,” Tallapoosa County District Attorney Jeremy Duerr said during the press conference. “And of course, once we continue and finish our investigation, I feel certain that several more charges will follow.”
Pascual-Reyes is in custody in Tallapoosa County awaiting a bond hearing.
Abbett called the the girl a “hero” and applauded the motorist for stopping to make sure she was OK, telling reporters the girl hadn’t been reported missing.
“She’s safe now and we want to keep her that way,” he added.