Man admits to kidnapping, attempted burglary in Franklin County

WASHINGTON TWP., Franklin County -- State Police announced Monday that a 20-year-old man has been arrested and after admitting to the abduction of a 4-year-old girl last week as well as an attempted home invasion on Sunday.

Thomas Dewald, 20, told police he kidnapped the girl on April 25. State Police said the victim was last seen around 7:30 p.m. on April 24. She was found unharmed several hours later about two miles away in the 14000 block of Harbaugh Church Road.

Dewald also admitted to attempting to burglarize a home on Lower Edgemont Road early on April 29.

He is facing kidnapping, criminal attempt - kidnapping, burglary, false imprisonment, unlawful restraint, criminal trespass, indecent assault and reckless endangerment charges.

Dewald was interviewed by State Police Monday and subsequently taken into custody at a home on Harbaugh Road, where he had been staying with relatives.

According to the criminal complaint, on April 29, police spoke to a homeowner who related that her grandson, later identified as Dewald, had been living with her for about four or five weeks.

The woman said that she checks Dewald's room everyday to make sure he checks his bed.

While checking his room one day, the woman heard what she described as a baby crying, according to the criminal complaint.

She said the crying seemed to come from the wall with the air conditioning unit in his bedroom.

The woman told police that she left the room to confront Dewald, but he had left for work already.

Then, the woman returned to the room and again heard crying, but couldn't find the source.

After serving a search warrant, several strands of long blonde hair was located inside a wooden chest in the bedroom.

Police also found several large strips of black tape, some that contained shoe impressions.

Dewald returned home upon the conclusion of the search, and admitted to his involvement in both the child abduction and attempted burglary.

He admitted to police that he would search the neighborhood for children playing in their yards and for houses with no video surveillance nearby.

Dewald said that he saw children at two homes in particular that he believed lived in deplorable conditions and did not have any video surveillance nearby.

He told police that he entered the victim's home through an unlocked front door, and was in the home for about an hour before locating the girl in her bedroom and taking her from the home.

Dewald told police that the older siblings would have been too heavy to take, and that he only took the girl because of the conditions he observed in the residence.

Then, he told police that he took the girl to his residence where he laid in bed with her.

Dewald admitted to masturbating near the victim, but not on herself.

Then, Dewald said he bound the child with tape and placed her in the wooden chest in his bedroom. He said he told the victim he would return around noon that day, but when he got home, she was no longer inside the wooden chest or inside the home.

When questioned about the burglary, Dewald told police that he put tape on the bottom of his shoes, as to not leave prints.

He said he entered the residence through a window before going upstairs to the children's bedroom.

Dewald said he saw all three children sleeping in their beds, but decided not to take any of them due to the acceptable conditions of the home.

Now, he is facing charges.

"Children should certainly feel safe in their schools and most importantly in their own homes. Things like this should not occur," said State Police Lt. Mark Magyar. "As an agency, we take any crime committed against children extremely serious and the public has our commitment that we will work tirelessly to make sure incidents like this don't occur."

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