Reporting Elizabeth Hur
SOUDERTON, Pa. (CBS) – Her 9-year-old neighbor was murdered and her fiancé stands accused of murdering the girl.
“It was disbelief and shock. I was horrified that they actually said that he was the one that did it,” Heather Clemens said.
Clemens is referring to 24-year-old James Troutman who police charged with the murder, kidnapping and rape of 9-year-old Skyler Kauffman. (see related story)
“Never in a million years did I think he was capable of doing this,” Clemens said.
According to Clemens, the two met a year and a half ago, got engaged soon thereafter and moved into the Souderton Gardens Apartments this February.
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Clemens said, “There are no words for how much disgust I have against this person who I thought I knew and he lied to me.”
“I did call the cops on him,” Heather Gebhard said.
Back at the growing memorial, Gebhard, Skyler’s mother, expressed grief and outrage. She is convinced police failed to protect her daughter over Easter weekend.
Gebhard added, “It’s killing me. If they would have done something then, my daughter would still be here.”
Clemens confirms Troutman told her he had allowed Skyler and a friend into their home when the girls needed to use the restroom.
“And that they locked the door on the inside for themselves and the girls came running out screaming and were struggling to open our front door even though he said that was unlocked as well,” Clemens recalled.
Police were called and they looked into the incident, but they determined no crime was committed then. Clemens says she trusted the police and Troutman.
Clemens said, “I made him look me in the eye and asked him ‘are you telling me the truth?’ Swear to me and he said ‘I’m telling you the truth.’”
The 21-year-old believed her fiancé. She said Troutman was sweet and genuine, never violent or heartless.
“I knew he had some sort of autism and ADHD. The only time he ever talked about hurting somebody was when they were hurting me, to defend me,” Clemens explained.
Thus, Clemens said at first, she again believed her fiancé when he told her he had nothing to do with Skyler’s disappearance.
According to Clemens, she and Troutman lived in an apartment just above the basement where police say Skyler was murdered and sexually assaulted. Clemens says at the time, she did hear a child crying, but thought the noises were coming from neighbors above her.
“I thought maybe it might have been a parent arguing with a child and the child was going ‘No. Why are you taking my toy?’ I thought any number of things at that point except for what this turned out to be,” Clemens later added, “The shock was inconceivable because that wasn’t him. I was with a monster and I didn’t even know it.”
Clemens says she now accepts she’d been deceived. She says if she had known what Troutman was capable of, she would have intervened.
Now her heart aches for Skyler’s family.
“My first concern is for the family that had to experience this horrible tragedy at the hands of the person I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with,” Clemens said.
While Skyler’s family prepares to bury the 9-year-old, friends set up a memorial fund to help with funeral costs.
Donations are being accepted at any Univest Bank branch or you may mail your donation to:
Skyler Rae Kauffman Memorial Fund
14 N. Main Street
Souderton, PA 18964
Reported by Elizabeth Hur, CBS 3