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October 2, 2022

Kidnapped girl escapes captor, leads police to gruesome discovery inside Alabama home

A 12-year-old girl held captive in a rural Alabama residence escaped and was discovered walking along a road, prompting an investigation that led police to discover two decomposing bodies at the home where she had been kept, authorities said Tuesday.

José Paulino Pascual-Reyes, 37, was jailed on a kidnapping count, Tallapoosa County Sheriff Jimmy Abbett told a news conference. District Attorney Jeremy Duerr said “multiple” additional capital murder charges were likely.

A motorist driving through a rural residential area spotted a child on the road on Monday morning and stopped, authorities said. Court records indicate the child had been drugged and bound but managed to escape, WSFA-TV reported.

The driver picked up the girl and called 911, prompting an investigation and search that led to police officers finding two decomposing bodies inside the residence where Pascual-Reyes lived and the girl was believed to be held, Abbett said. Other people lived at the residence, but no one else was there when police arrived, he said.

The man was arrested in Auburn, Abbett said. It wasn’t clear what information the girl might have provided to authorities, but Abbett called her a hero.

Police didn’t immediately release the names of the dead people or a cause of death, and court records didn’t include the name of a defense lawyer who could speak on behalf of Pascual-Reyes.

Authorities didn’t release any information about the girl, including whether she had any relationship to the suspect. She hadn’t been reported missing, the sheriff said.

“We gave her medical attention,’’ Abbett said. “She is safe now, and so we want to keep her that way.”

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