Community says goodbye to Skyler Kauffman

Pictured: 9-year-old Skyler Kauffman, who vanished while playing outside her apartment complex in Souderton, Pa. Her body was later found in a nearby trash bin and 24-year-old James Lee Troutman, who lives in the same complex, is in custody.

May 16, 2011 5:19:17 AM PDT
A family and a suburban community will say their final goodbyes today to a child who was murdered in Montgomery County.

9-year-old Skyler Kauffman will be laid to rest in Souderton. She was found dead one week ago.

At a viewing for Skyler last night, friends remembered the 3rd grader who loved swimming and dancing, and was always smiling. Loved ones arrived at the Sadler-Suess Funeral Home with heavy hearts.

"It's horrible for the family, for everybody. It's just a horrible thing to even think about," family friend Lana Goldstein said.

They came to comfort the family and say goodbye to Skyler, a vibrant young girl taken from them too soon.

"There's nothing you can do for them, you wish there was something you could to do to make their situation better, you would do anything to bring her back, but you can't. So the best thing you can do is to come and show you care," family friend Jen Kilgore said.

"She was just a happy, great, fun loving, little girl. She used to come to Lutheran Community and visit her great-grandma, with the biggest smile and her grandma would smile and it would just lighten up the day," Lana said.

Skyler was killed last Monday in the basement of her apartment complex.

Montgomery County investigators say her neighbor, James Troutman, brutally raped her, pounded her head against the pavement and strangled her. He then dumped her body in a trash bin.

Troutman faces kidnapping, rape, and murder charges.

"What a sweet, cute, little girl she was, I can't imagine something so awful happening. It's bad enough to lose a child, but to lose a child that way, I couldn't imagine anything worst," Jen said.

Loved ones and neighbors believe the tragedy could have been prevented. Three weeks before the murder, Skyler and another girl used Troutman's bathroom. The girls say he locked them in the apartment and asked if they wanted to see his "bird."

The District Attorney says officers investigated, but there was not enough evidence of a crime. Troutman is reportedly known to build birdcages and feed birds at the complex.

Today, however, is about the little girl who left a big impact on her friends and family. It's about a grieving community saying goodbye to the 9-year-old.

The funeral for Skyler Kauffman is set for 11:00 a.m. today.