February 13, 2021 marks exactly four years since Libby (Liberty) German, 14, and Abigail Williams, 13, disappeared from a wooded trail while on an afternoon walk near their homes in Delphi, Indiana. A volunteer searcher found their bodies near the trail the following day, along with some critical—and creepy—bits of evidence: a video clip of the girls’ likely attacker.
Using her cellphone, German recorded video footage of a man walking toward the girls on the Monon High Bridge. Using this video, police released a photo and an audio snippet of the presumed suspect speaking the words “down the hill.” (It’s believed the man forced the girls to walk “down the hill” to a location under the bridge before killing them.)
Libby German’s Heroic Actions May Help the Case
German’s quick thinking in the face of fear prompted Indiana State Police Sgt. Tony Slocom to pronounce her a “hero.” That young lady is a hero, that is no doubt,” Slocom told reporters. “To have enough presence of mind to activate the video system on her cell phone to record what we believe is criminal behavior about to occur, there is no doubt in our mind that she is a hero.”
Since the tragic discovery of German and Williams’ bodies, the nation has been captivated by the case, despite the fact that local authorities in Indiana have released little new information about it. The girls’ families have done everything in their power to keep the story at the forefront of the public’s minds, including speaking on TV shows as well as at conferences like Crime-Con.
Though authorities released a composite sketch of the suspect using German’s phone evidence— as well as testimony from others who may have seen the man on the trails that day—law enforcement is still hard at work searching for the murderer. According to Dwight Adams of the Journal & Courier, hundreds of officers have worked this case, sifting through more than 38,000 tips—but still, no arrests.
“We have talked to well over 1,100 people,” Sgt. Kim Riley of the Indiana State Police said in Adams‘ recent story. “That includes persons of interest, that includes anybody and everybody that’s involved in this case. If their name has been turned in, we’ve talked or attempted to talk to 99.9 percent of them.”
Why Has the Cause of Death Not Been Released in Libby German and Abby Williams’ Murder?
And perhaps most intriguingly, though autopsies were conducted on both girls, neither police nor FBI have released the cause or time of death for German or Williams. They also have not confirmed whether DNA evidence was found at the scene.
When asked why police have held back these details on such a high-profile case, Indiana State Police First Sgt. Jerry Holeman tells A&E True Crime that it is standard protocol for his officers to keep mum on those issues during ongoing investigations.
“Speaking on behalf of state police, we don’t ever release information about ongoing investigations,” Holeman says. “In this case, we gave out audio and photo evidence from [German’s] video to help locate [the perpetrator]. We do that so when we get key evidence, only the killer or killers know the cause of death. We don’t release it to the media because then everyone and their brother would know, and it’s common to get false confessions from mentally disturbed people. So we’re trying to keep the details close to our vests.”
Rumors and Speculation Around the Delphi Murder Case
Of course, the lack of confirmed details about the circumstances of the girls’ murders has only fueled more obsessive speculation from crime-watchers on sites like Reddit, where users on at least one Delphi-dedicated board with 8,400 subscribers regularly share their theories, speculations and suspicions.
“There’s a lot of false information out there,” Holeman confirms. “Social media, although not new… does impede our investigation. Like when people put up side-by-side photos of innocent people—or, at least, people with no ties to the state of Indiana or Delphi—which creates false [information]. People believe it [though] because it’s on the internet.”
And armchair detectives are even taking their interest in the case a step further by creating YouTube reenactments of the crime.
“[The videos] help us know that people don’t know [the true details], because the facts haven’t been released,” Holeman says. “People watch the news and think they are picking up on things, but it’s false. Nothing out there is accurate, which only leads to more false tips.”
The Delphi Murders Is Not a Cold Case
And while the murders of German and Williams remain unsolved as of the publication of this article, Holeman is adamant that the case is anything but cold.
“We get 10 to 12 tips daily and sometimes more, depending on what the media or social media is putting out there. But a lot of those are false tips,” he says. “We are continuing to use all the resources available to find the person or persons responsible for this heinous crime.”
UPDATE: On April 22, 2019, Indiana State Police released a new video, audio and sketch of the person they believe murdered the girls. During the press conference, Police Superintendent Doug Carter expressed his belief that the suspect is a resident of Delphi. “To the killer, who may be in this room: We believe you are hiding in plain sight,” Carter said. “In more than two years, you never thought we would shift gears to a different investigative strategy, but we have. We know this is about power to you. You want to know what we know. And one day, you will.”
If you have any information about the murders of Abby Williams and Libby German, please call the Delphi homicide tip line at 844-459-5786 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. There is a reward for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible.