WAYNESBORO, Pa. (WHTM) – Police say residents of a Franklin County neighborhood can rest easy knowing 20-year-old Thomas Dewald was arrested Monday night.
What police say he did to a 4-year-old girl and what he set out to do will continue to haunt them.
“I just wanted to be there for her and I wanted to protect her, and I didn’t even know it was a kidnap. We thought maybe she wandered out or anything. It could’ve been anything,” said Stephanie Moats, the girl’s mother.
Dewald admitted to police that he took the girl from her Washington Township home to where he lived with his grandparents. He said he lay down with her fully dressed, masturbated while he was near her, and then bound her mouth, wrists, and ankles with tape and placed her in a wooden chest, according to the criminal complaint.
“He told her she was going to the treasure room. She kept saying I was with somebody named Tom and he’s taking me to the treasure room. That’s what she was able to tell police,” Moats said.
It is unclear how the young girl escaped. Dewald’s grandmother told police she went into his room while he was at work and heard what sounded like a baby crying but could not find the source.
“You were a mother at one point and you hear a baby crying in your house and not do anything about it?” said Moats.
Because Dewald wasn’t arrested until Monday night, the girl was taken into protective custody. Moats has yet to see her.
“I have not seen her since I gave her a hug before I put her to bed,” she said.
Dewald admitted to police he went to a second home early Sunday and entered a bedroom where three children were sleeping. He fled the home when the family dog started barking, the complaint states.
“If he wasn’t here, I’m positive that one of our girls wouldn’t be here or maybe in a field somewhere,” said Thom Lambert, the father of the three girls.
Dewald told police he searched the neighborhood for children playing in their yards, mostly unsupervised, and for houses with no video surveillance nearby, according to the complaint.