(Warning: mentions of child abuse)
At approximately 7:00pm on the evening of April 19, 2021, a little girl went missing in the city of Lafayette, Indiana. She had been missing for 30 minutes when her concerned family contacted the local police to file a missing person report, stating her last known whereabouts as Park Ave, the street on which they lived in Lafayette, at around 6:30pm.
Officers from the Lafayette Police Department in Tippecanoe County were quickly dispatched to the scene and began canvassing the neighborhood and local area. When they knocked on the door of 42-year-old James Brian Chadwell II, at 714 Park Ave, he told them that the missing child had been at his house earlier that day but claimed he had not seen her that evening. Chadwell was unemployed at the time, having been recently let go from his job working in a nearby factory. His social media profiles stated he was a Welder at an industrial manufacturing company, Wabash National, and was originally from Lа Follette, Tennessee.
He had a passion for Pitbulls and owned at least 2.
Officers continued to search and canvass the street, however, soon returned to Chadwell’s residence when they could not locate the child. When they asked to search his home, he complied. Officers found no trace of the child on the premises but noticed a locked door leading to the basement that had been chained shut. When they opened the door, they saw a small female child naked, chained and crying at the bottom of the stairs with evident injuries to her body. The child was quickly identified as the missing girl they had been searching for.
The victim was transported to a nearby hospital to see to her injuries. She revealed in an interview she had entered Chadwell’s home with the promise of playing with his dogs. While she was petting the animals, she described being attacked and suffering multiple blows to the head before being strangled and choked until she eventually passed out. Injuries noted in the affidavit are listed as:
Black eyes, broken blood vessels, injuries to head, arms and face, marks indicative of strangulation and bite marks. The bite marks have been reported in articles as dog bite marks and it is suggested that Chadwell ordered his dogs to attack the 9-year-old child.
When she regained consciousness, she found herself naked and being transported to the basement by Chadwell, who proceeded to sexually abuse her. The attack was interrupted by police who knocked on the door looking for information pertaining to the whereabouts of the missing victim.
James Brian Chadwell II was arrested and charged with kidnapping, child molesting, strangulation, battery and attempted murder, as well as several additional crimes, for his actions against the child on April 19. The perpetrator's extensive criminal history is detailed in the arrest affidavit. Prior crimes span back to at least 2000 and include charges such as Criminal Recklessness with a deadly weapon, Aggravated-Assault with intent, Possession of a firearm, receiving stolen property, criminal trespass and criminal mischief along with other charges. Records state that he was on parole at the time of his most recent crime. After his hearing, he was reportedly heard asking for advice on who to speak to concerning a psychological evaluation.
When Chadwell’s image was posted alongside articles online, those following the case could not help but compare his likeness to that of a composite sketch of the Delphi Murders suspect.
The Delphi murders happened just around 18 miles from Lafayette, around a 30-minute drive North. On Valentine’s day of 2017, two teenagers, Abigail Williams, 13, and Liberty German, 14, were walking along the popular Monon High Bridge Trail, partaking in an impromptu photoshoot for snapchat, when they uploaded a low-quality audio file of a male voice which has been interpreted as saying: "Go down the hill". They neglected to return home that evening and the girls’ bodies were found the following day.
Eyewitnesses in the area described a Caucasian male with short dark hair in the area and a composite sketch of the suspect, along with a blurred image of the individual, was released to the media. The images of the suspect were heavily shared online and those following the Delphi case have compared photos of Chadwell to the composite sketch. After Chadwell’s mugshot gained attention on social media, sleuths began to examine the perpetrators tattoos for additional clues. One tattoo in particular stood out- a tattoo on the man’s arm depicting a female character appearing to cry blood. One social media user put the image of the tattoo alongside a photograph of Libby German, asking other users if they thought there were similarities. James Chadwell’s brother revealed in an interview with Inside Edition that he didn’t think Chadwell had the tattoo when he was last released from prison and concluded that it might be a recent addition.
According to documents, Chadwell was not behind bars in 2017 when the Delphi murders occurred.
Chadwell was present on various social media platforms, including TikTok and Facebook. On both platforms he made multiple bitter comments about issues with love and women.
Sheriff Toby Leazenby of the Carroll County Sheriff office told media outlets: “The information has obviously been shared with us, and our investigators are looking into him." There has been no news of a definitive link between Chadwell, and the Delphi murders released thus far, however, possible links are being investigated.
"He's a monster. He's an absolute evil person" said Chadwell's brother in an interview with inside edition. "Do I think that he's capable of that kind of crime? Absolutely. He's shown to friends and family multiple times that he has that kind of evil streak through him." He added that James Chadwell attempted to drown him when they were children.
When Chadwell's step-father was asked the same question, he answered: "Is he capable? Probably. Should they let him back out on the street? Not ever. Throw the key away this time".