Police handling of Skyler Kauffman case leads to questions

The fallout from 9-year-old Skyler Kauffman’s death has victims advocacy groups calling on police to conduct more thorough investigations of citizen complaints.

Skyler’s body was found in a trash bin last Monday near the Souderton apartment complex where she lived. Her mother, Heather Gebhard, claims police “blew her off” in April when she tried to file charges against the neighbor charged with the murder for allegedly locking Skyler and another girl in his apartment.

Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman has maintained that police handled the situation correctly, although she has declined to release the original police report, which sources claim is more telling of what actually happened.

Jill Maier, director of counseling services for Women Organized Against Rape, would not second-guess police in Skyler’s case, but said “when neighbors are vigilant the police should take that seriously.”

Greg Bucceroni, a victim’s advocate who has volunteered with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office for more than 30 years, claims that race and class play a role in investigations.

“If this was someone complaining of abusing a dog, you get locked up, but if someone abuses a child or low-income or minority kid, nothing is done,” he said.

Last week, Montgomery County Commissioner called on the original report to be released. “There’s something amiss in the operation of law enforcement here, and there’s got to be a public accounting to maintain public confidence,” he told the Inquirer.

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