A 12-year-old girl who had been held captive was found walking along a road in rural Alabama on Monday after she escaped from a nearby home, which led authorities to the grisly discovery of two decomposing bodies where she had been held.
The Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Department said Tuesday that José Paulino Pascual-Reyes, 37, of Dadeville, Alabama, had been arrested and charged with first-degree kidnapping, three counts of capital murder and two counts of abuse of corpse.
It was unclear if Pascual-Reyes had a lawyer.
Jimmy Abbett, the Tallapoosa County sheriff, said at a news conference that just before 8:30 a.m. Monday, a driver noticed a girl walking along a road near 3547 County Road 34 in Dadeville, Alabama, and called 911.
Deputies who responded gave the girl medical treatment and started investigating, the sheriff said. Once they entered the house, officials said, they found two decomposing bodies.
Court documents said the girl had been tied to bedposts for nearly a week while she was assaulted and kept in a drugged state through the use of alcohol, according to WSFA, a TV station in Montgomery, Alabama. The girl managed to get free and escape by chewing through her restraints, the documents said.
Abbett declined to provide details about when the girl might have been kidnapped, the relationship between her and Pascual-Reyes or details about the two bodies, including identification and cause of death.
Authorities said the girl, who had not been reported missing, was “doing well.”
“She’s a hero,” Abbett said. “She’s safe, and we want to keep her that way.”
Abbett said he believed that Pascual-Reyes had been living at the home since February. He added that other people were at the residence when authorities arrived, but the sheriff didn’t provide further detail.
The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, along with numerous local agencies, are helping investigate.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.