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Person of interest in Delphi murders has Kokomo connections

James Chadwell lived, worked in Kokomo prior to attempted murder arrest

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CHADWELL

A man recently arrested in Lafayette on a bevy of charges involving the kidnapping of a 9-year-old girl, and who is being investigated in relation to the still-unsolved 2017 murders of two Delphi teens, previously lived and worked in the City of Firsts.

James Brian Chadwell II, 42, was arrested on April 19 after authorities in Lafayette charged him with luring a 9-year-old girl into his house and beating and sexually assaulting her. After his arrest, Carroll County Sheriff Tobe Leazenby told media officials that Chadwell was being investigated in connection to the 2017 murders of Liberty “Libby” German and Abigail “Abby” Williams in Delphi.

Arrest records indicated that Chadwell lived in Kokomo as recently as 2016 on the 1000 block of North Apperson Way. He was arrested that year on a drunk driving charge. Chadwell was hired at Moon Fabricating in Kokomo in December 2017, according to an executive at the company. His maternal aunt and Kokomo resident Peggy Gist confirmed that information.

According to Gist, she last saw her nephew in the summer of 2020 at a family function in Kokomo. She said Chadwell was intoxicated at the time.

“When he’s not drinking, he’s the sweetest guy,” Gist said. “I mean, he’s just really sweet. He has some problems because he lost his mother. He’s been in prison, of course, and I don’t know. He just has problems because of that.”

Chadwell’s late mother, Laura Mae Chadwell, died on April 25, 2009. Her son was incarcerated in South Dakota at the time on a myriad of charges, including aggravated assault.

According to Gist, Chadwell always would “act out” around the time of his mother’s death.

On April 19, Chadwell was arrested most recently in Lafayette. According to the probable cause affidavit from the arrest, officers were notified of a missing child and soon made contact with Chadwell, who told investigators that the child had been at his residence previously but had left.

Authorities later returned to Chadwell’s residence where they searched for and found the missing girl in the basement of the home, which was secured with a chain lock. Officers found the girl visibly injured with her clothing on the floor beside her.

The affidavit detailed that the girl was inside his house playing with Chadwell’s dogs when he hit her and beat her before forcing her to perform oral sex on him. The girl had multiple wounds, including strangulation marks and broken blood vessels. She was taken to a local hospital for treatment.

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Chadwell was charged for attempted murder, child molesting, attempted child molesting, kidnapping, criminal confinement, battery resulting in serious bodily injury, and strangulation.

On Facebook, Chadwell had various check-ins at Kokomo businesses, such as the Hi-Mark Restaurant and Lounge, Trinity House, and the city of Kokomo. Chadwell’s most recent check-in to Kokomo was last month on April 6.

Gist said that Chadwell’s family “abandoned him,” referencing an Inside Edition report where journalists interviewed Chadwell’s stepfather and brother, James Chadwell and Ashley Chadwell. Ashley told Inside Edition that Chadwell was “a monster” and “absolutely” capable of the kinds of crimes Chadwell stands accused of. James reciprocated the claims, saying he thought his stepson was capable of committing the Delphi murders.

Gist said she has received threats of violence for being related to Chadwell.

“[Our family is doing] terrible,” Gist said. “We’re all getting threats and everything. Some guy messaged me and told me he was going to find me and rape me and kill me just because we were friends on Facebook, me and Brian.”

Initially, Gist said she had a hard time believing that Chadwell was capable of doing the crimes he stands accused of.

“I love Brian, and I know he did wrong. And I wish things were different. I didn’t believe it at first until he went to court,” Gist said. “I don’t know. I didn’t think he was [capable]. That’s why I denied it for a while. I was like, ‘No, he didn’t do it. He didn’t do that.’ But I don’t know. He must be guilty, or he would say he’s not. So I don’t know.”

Chadwell is being held at the Tippecanoe County jail on a $50,000 cash bond.

The two Delphi teens, German and Williams, were abducted and murdered on Feb. 13, 2017. The case remains unsolved.

Individuals with information about the Delphi murders are encouraged to contact law enforcement by email at abbyandlibbytip@cacoshrf.com or by phone at 844-459-5786.