James Brian Chadwell is a 42-year-old Lafayette, Indiana, man who is accused of attempted murder after police found an injured, missing 10-year-old girl in his basement.
Authorities in nearby Delphi – only 15 miles away – are investigating him as a possible suspect in the notorious unsolved murders of Delphi teens Abigail Williams and Liberty German. “The information has obviously been shared with us, and our investigators are looking into him,” Carroll County Sheriff Tobe Leazenby said to the Lafayette Journal & Courier.
Abby and Libby were murdered after going for a hike near an old bridge in February 2017. They were discovered near the Monon High Bridge Trail, which is part of the Delphi Historic Trails. Authorities have released two crime scene sketches of a possible suspect, one in which he looks far younger than the other. They also released Snapchat video and audio from Libby’s phone of a man walking on a bridge toward the girls before they were killed. Libby had captured audio of his voice saying, “Down the hill.” How exactly they died has not been released by authorities. Throughout the years, other people have been investigated as suspects with nothing coming of it.
His full name is James Brian Chadwell II; he is a felon with an extensive criminal history.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Affidavit Accuses Chadwell of Choking & Sexually Assaulting a Girl He Kept in His Basement
The probable cause affidavit says that a missing child was “subsequently located in the residence of James Chadwell on Park Avenue in Lafayette, Indiana.”
On April 19, 2021, officers were dispatched regarding a missing child report near Park Avenue in Lafayette, Indiana. Officers took a report that a female child approximately 10-years-old had left her residence at about 6:30 p.m. and could not be found. While officers were searching the neighborhood, they made contact with James Chadwell, who told officers the girl had been at his residence earlier but had left.
After being unable to locate the child, officers returned to Chadwell’s residence and asked him for permission to check his residence. He allowed them in and the officers checked the basement, which was secured with a chain lock.
In the basement, an officer “found a young girl who was visibly distraught and crying, with her clothing on the floor beside her.” She was identified as the girl and said Chadwell tried to kill her. She was injured and taken to the hospital for treatment.
The girl described going into Chadwell’s residence and petting his dogs. While inside the home, Chadwell attacked her, she said.
The girl said Chadwell “hit her in the head multiple times because she was fighting back. Victim 1 said Chadwell was also choking her with his hands on her neck and also using his arm in a headlock, to the point where she passed out. Victim 1 said most of her clothes were off when she regained consciousness and Chadwell took her into the basement.”
He attempted to have sexual intercourse with her and then made her perform oral sex on him. At one point Chadwell got dressed to go answer the door and then the police found her. Across her neck were lateral strangulation marks. She had broken blood vessels with black eyes, bruising to her head, arms and legs, and bite marks.
Court records show that Chadwell faces the following charges: Attempted Murder Attempted intentional killing of another; Child Molesting where def. is at least 21 years of age; Child Molesting where def. is at least 21 years of age; Kidnapping where victim is less than 14 years of age; Criminal Confinement resulting in serious bodily injury; Battery Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury; and Strangulation.
2. Some Have Noted That Chadwell Has Tattoos of Crying Girls’ Faces on His Arms
Astute observers noted that Chadwell has tattoos of two girls’ faces on his arms in which they appear to be crying blood. Some people on social media believe one of the faces looks like German; however, authorities have not publicly connected Chadwell to the murders of Libby and Abby other than to say they are looking into him.
Here’s the original photo showing one of the tattoos on his Facebook page.
In one post on Facebook, Chadwell wrote, “I’m in love with a lil redhead. You make my soul smile.. I’ll chase eyou til I can’t walk, then I’ll chase you in my wheelchair.”
He also shared numerous posts and photos showing he had an affinity for the woods and outdoors, as well as a picture of a railroad bridge.
In one post, he wrote, in June 2020, “Sleeping under a bridge for a while til work starts. Only ten days. Cool, dry, no neighbors, and the bridge is only six minutes from work. Be thankful for the little things.”
Here are the two crime scene sketches of the suspect in the Abby and Libby homicides.
Over the years, others have been considered suspects in the girl’s deaths.
Named as a possible suspect in the past was an Indiana man, Paul Etter, 55, who was killed in a standoff with police after being accused of abducting and sexually assaulting a 26-year-old woman who pulled into his driveway with a flat tire. However, nothing ever came of it. No one has ever been arrested or charged or publicly accused in the murders.
3. Chadwell, a Welder, Filled His Facebook Page With Angry Rants About Life, Saying That He ‘Wrecked’ Everything & Cries a Lot
In one of his voluminous posts on Facebook, Chadwell wrote, “Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down. Everything was going so well but I had to wreck it, because I don’t understand easy. I wrecked it now I’m here again at the beginning. I cry a lot because I know there are people dealing with worse. I’ll survive, but a lot won’t. We need to come together and help everyone. Especially the ones that are struggling. It’s up to us to make a difference. It’s not about skin color or religion. It’s about loving one another. We are all in this together. Let’s make this monumental. I support this movement. Back me and smile.”
He wrote that he was a “Welder-Fabricator at Wabash National” who lived in Lafayette, Indiana, but was from La Follette, Tennessee. He described himself as single. He showed an obsession with pitbulls.
“Stormed Area51 last night. The aliens are real…” he wrote in one post.
“Tuesday night bonfire. F*** society. I do what I want…” he wrote in another post.
“Stuck in Gary IN for a week of work. Dirtiest city ever. Sometimes beauty can be found in the most unexpected of places tho..”
“I love all of life’s creatures. Big, small, hairy, or just plain creepy. If they don’t threaten my life, I won’t threaten theirs.. That’s good parenting skillz.”
“OMG!!! Took me forever to see the faces in this…. See if you can find the angel and the demon… Wow.”
“I’ve had this school boy crush on this girl since the car wash and train trussle. I’m not what she deserves but I’m trying to be something. Even if she never talks to me again, at least I’ll know I was a part. Baby. Please don’t make me keep searching for you, when I know exactly where you are. You will always be my dream girl. Can we just skip all the formalities?”
“I just want a woman that’s willing to put in the same effort I do. I know that’s probably too much to ask in this day and age, but a boy can still dream. If I can’t have true love, I have Pornhub…”
“So many women talk a good game but actually have no game. They talk about forever and happily ever after, but don’t wanna do sh** to keep it. Getting it is the baby steps. Keeping it is being called a committed adult who is truly in love… You all need to get your sh** right and quit blaming good guys for where you’re falling short… We don’t need you….”
“So, my life is going really well, but I wanna wreck it. I dont know whats wrong with me. I just know what is. This life just seems so lack luster. I don’t need more. I wanna be more.”
“So this is probably not gonna be politically correct, and will probably sound worse than I want it too. But I just wanna say thank you to my darker skinned friends. Whatever your background. Thank you for helping me grow. I love the flavor that all of you bring to my vanilla world. Thank you.”
“I dont have a social circle because I don’t like people. I’m trying.”
“I’m dying inside because I feel like I have nothing. But I have everything. I will make it. I don’t need your approval. Crazy weekend. Came home after work on Friday to find someone had broken in and was sleeping in my extra bedroom. Took me about 15 minutes to wake him up. He woke up trying to tell me this was his house. I Hurt him pretty bad, drug him to the sidewalk and called local law. They arrested me for assault. Went to jail, told them what happened. They dropped charges against me and charged him. Still cost me $400 to get out… then today, I was walking in to work and slipped and fell on the ice. Broken right wrist, six stitches in my head, and back issues. So now I’m stuck on light duty for a while and spent all day at the hospital. Im still smiling. Without the bad we wouldn’t appreciate the good. Blessings come in many shades. Be thankful for what you have.”
“Trump… You still have my vote.”
“No valentines = no drama.”
“Turned myself in to a 90 treatment facility. I’m gonna beat this.”
“I was locked up for 13 1/2 years because I assaulted a prison guard and a cop. Never imagined it would be so difficult coming back out here. I’m a good guy, just made some mistakes. The world holds it against me… Now I’m doing better, and still get judged… Cops need assholes like me to keep them in line. We still have rights….”
4. Chadwell Has a Lengthy, Assaultive Criminal History in Indiana & South Dakota
The probable cause affidavit says that Chadwell has an extensive criminal history. He was convicted of criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon, a felony, in Miami County.
He was convicted in 2000 in Pennington County, South Dakota of assault-aggravated, a felony, and was convicted of stolen property. He was convicted in U.S. District Court, South Dakota of being a felon in possession of a firearm, a felony, in 2001. He was convicted in Minnehaha County, South Dakota, of assault-aggravated, a felony, in 2003.
He was convicted in Cass County, Indiana for receiving stolen property, a felony, on June 9, 2016. He was convicted of OWI with a prior, a felony and resisting law enforcement, a misdemeanor, in February 2020 in Miami County. In October 2020, he was convicted of criminal trespass and criminal mischief and was still on probation. He was convicted of criminal trespass and was wanted on warrants.
Court records show that when he was convicted of criminal trespassing in 2020, a charge of public intoxication was dismissed. He received a 90-day jail sentence.
Court records also show he used to live in Peru, Indiana. His father filed a notice of claim to evict him from that address in 2020.
In 2020, when he was convicted of resisting law enforcement, he received a 124 day jail term. A theft charge was dismissed. His probation was revoked. In 2020, he was also convicted of drunk driving with a prior conviction and resisting law enforcement. A charge of operating a vehicle while intoxicated – endangering a person was dismissed. He received 365 days in jail. That was a felony case.
He had an ongoing court case in 2017 for receiving stolen property and probation violation, but no hearings in February 2017. However, there were hearings in that case in the months after that time frame. At that time, his address was given as Kokomo, Indiana. That’s about 34 miles from Delphi. He was sentenced in June 2016. In August 2016, he allegedly violated probation. In November 2016, he was taken to jail and held without bond, but a few days later, the state and probation officer agreed “to an OR release of the defendant from the CCJ.” A hearing was scheduled for April 2017 in the case.
The Delphi murders occurred in February 2017.
He was found guilty of battery resulting in bodily injury in 2000 and criminal recklessness resulting in serious injury. Charges of illegal consumption of alcohol and battery resulting in serious bodily injury were dismissed. He was accused of violating probation.
5. On TikTok, Chadwell Talked About People ‘Preying on the Little People’
♬ original sound – Outlaw313
In a chilling TikTok video recorded on April 18, Chadwell said, “So to all you little kids out there…my nose doesn’t look like this because I cut myself shaving. If you want some, come get some. Quit preying on the little people. There’s more than enough to go around. Come find me or I will find you.” He had an injury to his nose in the video.
On April 18, Chadwell recorded a TikTok video in which he said, “All you chicks on Tiktok trying to sling your booty or sling your taco, whatever you’re trying to do, you need to wrap that sh** up. It ain’t working…we got porn hub for that sh**. We don’t need your little extras, so take that sh** somewhere else. We’re looking for a real woman. Over age of 30. And confident. And you know who you are.”
That was the day before the girl was reported missing in Lafayette.