Girl Abducted, Killed After Seeing Meth Use, Police Say

Feb. 4, 2005 -- -- A suspect in the death of a southern Indiana girl told investigators the 10-year-old was abducted last week because she saw people taking part in illegal drug activity, according to court records.

Charles James Hickman, 20, allegedly told police that some people using or making methamphetamine thought Katlyn "Katie" Collman had seen them at it in their home near a store where the girl had gone to buy toilet paper, so they abducted her Jan. 25 in Crothersville and brought her to Hickman's home.

Police on Friday arrested a second man, Timothy C. O'Sullivan II, 22, on charges he lied to police when questioned about the girl's abduction.

Katie's body was found three days after an Amber Alert was issued, and five days after she first was reported missing.

Hickman was arrested Wednesday and is charged with murder and criminal confinement. He is being held in solitary confinement for his own safety, police said.

The killing was the first murder in Crothersville, a town of less than 2,000 people located 40 miles north of Louisville, Ky., in 25 years, police said.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Hickman told police that he and the people who allegedly abducted Katie wanted to intimidate the girl, so he took her to a body of water about 20 miles away. He said the girl's hands were tied, and she either fell in or was bumped into the water, where she drowned, according to the affidavit.

The Crothersville girl's body was found Sunday by a state trooper in a stream near Seymour.

Hickman made his initial court appearance today at Jackson County Courthouse in Brownstown, where he entered a plea of not guilty and was ordered held without bail. His trial was set for October.

Jackson County Prosecutor Steve Pierson said he would consider pursuing the death penalty against Hickman.

Police said Thursday that they were looking into the possibility that more than one person was involved in Katie's death, but they didn't identify anyone other than Hickman as a suspect.

"We are not satisfied with just one arrest," Indiana State Police Sgt. Jerry Goodin said. "If that's what it leads to in this case, if that's all it boils down to, then obviously we are. But if there are other people involved, then we are going to seek those other people out."

Authorities said they believe Katie, a fourth-grader at Crothersville Elementary School, was abducted on the afternoon of Jan. 25 while she was returning home from a store on foot.

Police issued an Amber Alert on Jan. 27 after someone reported seeing the girl on the day she disappeared with a man in a white Ford F-150 pickup truck in Crothersville.

According to the affidavit, Hickman told investigators that when Katie's abductors took her to his home, they arrived in a truck that matched that description.

Katie's father said he wants justice.

"I asked the Lord if he never answered another prayer to answer one, and that was to catch who did this before we had to lay her to rest," said John Neace, the girl's father. "And we believe that prayer was answered."

Neace said he would rather not comment yet about whether those responsible for his daughter's death should get the death penalty. He said he just wants the judicial process to run its course.

"Katie deserves to get justice for the people that did this to her," Neace said. "My family deserves justice. No one deserves to die for something that we don't even know why, especially a child."

Neace added that he doesn't like to wonder what happened to his daughter in the days and hours before her death.

"There's lots of unanswered questions," he said. "Imagining what she endured in her last hours is a nightmare."

Police said at a news conference Thursday that the investigation is no more than 15 percent complete, and others might be involved in the girl's death. They also said they think some people might have given them false information to keep investigators from focusing on Hickman.

"Some of the information provided us was not correct information," Goodin said. "Maybe they didn't give us the correct information because they were lying to us, maybe it was something in their memory that they just forgot."

Investigators had chased hundreds of tips since the girl disappeared, including some that turned out to be false, he said. He warned that anyone who had misled police, deliberately or through a "memory lapse," should contact investigators or they could face criminal charges.

"We will be pursuing charges of false informing on folks who have provided us false information in this investigation," he said.

Goodin also said Hickman knew Katie.

"He knew her because it's a small town and everybody knows everybody," he said.

An autopsy was conducted Monday at a hospital in Louisville, Ky., but the Jackson County coroner has not yet released a cause of death. Goodin said it could be up to two weeks before the autopsy results are released.

Her funeral is scheduled for Sunday at Crothersville High School.

ABC News affiliate WRTV in Indianapolis contributed to this report.

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