INDIANAPOLIS – A 25-year-old man was charged Wednesday with abducting and killing a 10-year-old Crothersville girl, who was the subject of an Amber Alert (search) last week, authorities said.
Charles "Chuckie" James Hickman (search), of Crothersville, was preliminarily charged with murder, felony murder and criminal confinement in the killing of Katlyn "Katie" Collman (search), said Crothersville Police Chief Norman Ford in a news release. Hickman was being held Wednesday at the Jackson County Jail awaiting his initial court hearing.
Police have been searching for Collman's killer since a state trooper found her body in a stream Sunday, five days after authorities say she apparently accepted a ride from a young man in a white truck while returning home from running an errand. The trooper found the body in a wooded area about a quarter of a mile off Interstate 65 about 15 miles north of Crothersville.
Collman, a fourth-grader at Crothersville Elementary, was last seen walking from a store on Jan. 22, about three blocks from her home after buying toilet paper, investigators have said.
Since her body was found, police said more than 50 federal, local and state officers have concentrated their efforts on finding her killer.
State Police Sgt. Jerry Goodin said authorities were not releasing more specific information on the arrest Wednesday and that they would hold a news conference Thursday morning in Crothersville.
Ford said in a news release that if convicted, Hickman could face the death penalty or life in prison.
Hundreds of people had phoned police to report seeing men resembling a composite drawing of a suspect or white pickup trucks they thought might be the one in which Collman last was seen riding, Goodin said Tuesday.
Most of the leads this week were focused around Jackson County, he said.
Goodin said it could be up to two weeks before the results of a Monday autopsy were released.
The child's death was the first homicide in 25 years in the town of about 1,500 people some 40 miles north of Louisville, Ky. Residents reacted with fear and outrage as the search for the killer supplanted the search for the girl.
A local computer store printed T-shirts with Katie's face on the front and a composite portrait of the suspect on the back above a grim message: "We will find you next."
Proceeds from shirts sales were to help pay for the search and for the funeral, which was set for Sunday at the school.
State police issued a statewide Amber Alert on Thursday after they received enough information on the suspect's vehicle.
A $10,000 reward for information in the case had been offered.