LAFAYETTE, Ind. — James Chadwell II has pleaded guilty to charges including attempted murder, child molesting, kidnapping, criminal confinement, strangulation and battery after a missing 9-year-old girl was rescued from his home.
Chadwell could face 160 years in prison at sentencing Dec. 16.
"As I told the mother, what this means today to her and her family, they can go home and tell the child involved in this case that she can rest tonight, knowing she's safe," said Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Patrick Harrington. "This man will never be in a position to get out of prison or to hurt her again."
The change of plea comes after a judge denied a change of venue request on Oct. 18.
Shay Hughes, Chadwell's public defender, had requested the change after some media reports indicated a link between the incident involving the 9-year-old girl and the unsolved murders of two girls in Delphi in 2017. For that reason, Chadwell's attorney had argued his client could not get a fair trial and he wanted a judge to move it.
"Personally, from my opinion, he had nothing to do with that. There's nothing to suggest, that I've seen, that I've been told, that he was part of that. So, I don't believe he had anything to do with the murders of Abigail and Liberty," Hughes said.
According to court documents, the 9-year-old girl had gone into Chadwell's home April 19 to pet his dogs. That's when he allegedly attacked and strangled her. The court documents said he then forced the girl into the basement, where he assaulted her. The girl told officers that Chadwell had made threats to kill her if she screamed or told anyone what had happened.
The girl's mother reported her missing around 7 p.m. from their home in the 2400 block of Main Street, which is just west of Sagamore Parkway.
The girl's mother told police her daughter had been missing for about 30 minutes before she called the police.
Police were told that Chadwell had made comments about seeing the child after she was reported missing.
Officers went to Chadwell's home in the 700 block of Park Avenue, which is one minute away from the girl's home. According to court documents, Chadwell told officers the girl had been at his home earlier, but she had left.
Officers continued to search for the girl and returned to Chadwell's home and asked to search it. Lafayette police said officers found the girl in the basement of the home with bruising on her body and a dog bite on her leg.
The prosecutor said he was glad the guilty plea means sparing a jury and courtroom from seeing the officers' bodycam video.
"It's so graphic that most people who observed it have sought mental health treatment," Harrington said. "It's disturbing. It's disturbing that a human being could ever treat another person in this matter."
Hughes said his client takes responsibility for what happened.
"He owns it," Hughes said. "Our hearts go out to the victim and the victim's family."