Controversy is swirling around an April encounter between nine-year-old Skyler Kauffman and the man accused of killing her, 24-year-old James Lee Troutman.
Both lived at the Souderton Garden Apartments, where she was raped and beaten to death in a basement laundry and storage area on Monday night. Three weeks earlier she and a friend asked to use the bathroom at Troutman’s apartment and became alarmed when they saw pictures of nearly-naked women on the wall. There are differing accounts about whether he made a sexually suggestive remark at the time or locked them in. He may have asked them if they wanted to see his bird or his pet bird, and then the girls may have escaped after being locked in or he may have let them out. He built birdhouses, and had a bird cage in his apartment. Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman said he was not charged with anything at the time because no crime was committed, but the victim’s mother said the earlier encounter should have been a warning, and if the police had not brushed it off her daughter might still be alive.