The murders of Liberty “Libby” German, 14, and Abigail “Abby” Williams, 13, shocked the small town of Delphi, Indiana because of their apparent randomness. On February 13, 2017, the two friends went for an afternoon walk, where they posted social media photos of their adventures that day. Around 12 p.m. the following day, their bodies were found by a volunteer searcher about half a mile from the abandoned bridge where they’d last been spotted 24 hours earlier.
In the year-plus since German’s and Williams’ deaths, the unsolved case has attracted media attention, and local police are fighting for fresh leads. But what makes this murder case different than most is that it is believed one of the victims may have captured audio and photo clues that point to her killer.
Here’s what we know about the Delphi murders so far:
How were they killed?
The two eighth-graders were dropped off around 1 p.m. on February 13, 2017 to walk along the Delphi Historic Trails. They’d arranged to meet relatives at the start of the trail about an hour after they arrived. (They had the day off from school for a “snow make-up day.”)
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Libby posted a Snapchat photo of best friend Abby walking across the deserted railroad Monon High Bridge shortly before 2:15 p.m. on the day of their outing, leading some media outlets to dub this case the “Snapchat Murders.” Soon after posting the photo, investigators believe the girls were approached by a man, presumed to be a stranger, who went on to kill them.
‘Down the hill’
In fact, Libby, who may have sensed impending danger, recorded a snippet of audio on her cellphone of the man speaking the words “down the hill.” She also snapped a photo of the suspect; though it turned out blurry, it was enough to help police draft a composite drawing, using input from other witnesses who were on the trail that day. There has been speculation that Libby also recorded a video, but police have not released it.
Delphi murders autopsy
Though autopsies were performed on both girls, neither police nor the FBI has released the cause of death of either girl, or information about what, exactly, happened to them that afternoon. In fact, officials have still only released three key pieces of information related to the case: Libby’s blurry photo of the suspect, who was seen walking with his head down, wearing jeans, a blue jacket, a hat and a brown hoodie. The police also released Libby’s audio snippet of the man. They have more audio recordings as well, but Indiana State Police First Sgt. Jerry Holeman, the investigative commander of the Lafayette District, has said, “Protecting the integrity of the investigation is key so we cannot release everything because there are certain people that know the details and if we release it all then we get into false confessions.” In addition, cops released a composite sketch of the man, based both on the photo and on testimony from other witnesses who said they saw him on the trails that day.
Officials are looking for a white man who is between 5 feet 6 inches and 5 feet 10 inches with reddish-brown hair.
DNA evidence has reportedly been collected from the scene of the double homicide, according to Holeman, though it’s unclear exactly what that evidence consists of.
The lack of information released about the case has caused some people to speculate that it’s going cold, but investigators claim that isn’t true.
“Just because we haven’t released information to the media doesn’t mean we don’t have more information. Some of the facts we don’t release are only known to the person who committed the crime,” Sgt. Tony Slocum said last year, according to The Daily Beast.
In fact, there have been 30,000 leads in the case—just nothing that’s led to the girls’ killer (yet).
Delphi murders suspect
Though there haven’t been many publicized leads in the case, a man named Daniel Nations was dragged into the headlines last year when he was identified as a “person of interest” in the murders.
In September, he was arrested in Colorado Springs near a trail where a hiker had been murdered recently; according to The Indy Channel, “the car he and his wife were driving matched one belonging to a man who threatened several hikers with a hatchet.” (A hatchet was reportedly found in the car as well.) Nations was not charged in the murder of the hiker.
In May, Nations pleaded guilty to a felony charge for failing to register as a sex or violent offender, but that charge has nothing to do with the Delphi investigation, and any link between Nations and the girls’ murders is unclear. Nations was put on probation, but Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter has said “He’s not a person that we care a whole lot about at this moment in time.”
If you have any information about the murders, please contact the Delphi Homicide Investigation Tip Line at (844) 459-5786, the Indiana State Police at (800) 382-7537, or the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department at (765) 564-2413.