A 12-year-old girl found walking on an Alabama road this week led to the discovery of two decomposing bodies in a nearby home and the arrest of a man on a kidnapping charge, officials said.
Jose Paulino Pascual-Reyes, 37, could also face capital murder and other charges after a passerby found the child around 8:30 a.m. Monday, authorities said Tuesday.
“I would say she’s a hero,” Tallapoosa County Sheriff Jimmy Abbett said at a news conference Tuesday.
Investigators later found two decomposing bodies in the home, which is south of Dadeville, and Pascual-Reyes was arrested on a first-degree kidnapping charge in Auburn, Abbett said.
The connection between the girl and Pascual-Reyes and more details about the bodies were not released.
The first time the sheriff’s office had contact with the girl was Monday after the passerby found her, Abbett said, and she had not been considered a missing person.
NBC affiliate WSFA of Montgomery reported that court records indicate the girl had been tied up and drugged with alcohol before she was able to escape.
District Attorney Jeremy Duerr said multiple counts of capital murder would most likely be filed in addition to the kidnapping charge.
“And of course, once we continue and finish our investigation, I feel certain that several more charges will follow,” Duerr said.
Pascual-Reyes was being held in jail Tuesday night. It was not immediately clear whether he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
The girl received medical care and was doing well, Abbett said.
"She’s safe now, and so we want to keep her that way," he said.