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Chambersburg Area School District Foundation

WAYNESBORO — A Waynesboro man accused of kidnapping a young girl from her bed in the middle of the night last Wednesday also broke in another home intending to take another child over the weekend, according to police.

Thomas Dewald, 20, was arrested Monday and charged with kidnapping in the abduction of little Gemma Moats, who was snatched from her bed sometime overnight Wednesday and held captive for hours before being found at the side of a road 2 1/2 miles from her Rouserville home Thursday morning.

Magisterial District Judge Glenn Manns denied Dewald bail during a preliminary arraignment today.

He is charged with one count of kidnapping, five counts of attempted kidnapping and two counts of burglary, all first degree felonies.

He is also charged with numerous second-degree felonies and two misdemeanors in connection with the kidnapping and the later thwarted weekend break-in in the same neighborhood.

During interrogation following his arrest Monday, Dewald told a chilling story of casing the neighborhood, looking for children playing in their yards, mostly unsupervised, in areas without video surveillance.

He told police he singled out two homes where he considered living conditions to be “deplorable,” according to the affidavit filed in the case.

In his confession, he admitted he entered the first home early Thursday morning through an unlocked door, went upstairs and took the four-year-old from her bed.

Two older children were also sleeping in the home, but Dewald said in his confession he chose the little girl because she would be easier to carry.

He took her home with him and put her in his bed, then got in the bed himself, according to the affidavit.

At some point, he got up, bound the child with tape and put her in a wooden chest, telling her he would be back at noon before shutting the lid to the chest, according to the court document.

When he returned home late that day, the child was gone, he told police.

Dewald also confessed to entering a second home overnight Saturday with the intent of abducting another child, according to the affidavit.

There were three children asleep in an upstairs bedroom, but according to the court document, Dewald changed his mind about taking one of them at the last minute.

He allegedly fled when he heard a dog barking.

A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled in Franklin County Central Court at 1 p.m. May 14.

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We are excited and have so much planned for our youth this year

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