Murders of Abigail Williams and Liberty German
Liberty German (left) and Abigail Williams (right)
|Date||February 13, 2017|
|Location||Delphi, Indiana, United States|
On February 14, 2017, the bodies of Abigail J. "Abby" Williams and Liberty Rose Lynn "Libby" German were discovered on a hiking trail in Delphi, Indiana, United States, after the young girls had disappeared from the same trail the previous day. The murders have received significant media coverage because a photo and audio recording of a man believed to be the girls' murderer was found on German's cell phone. Despite the photo and audio recording of the suspect being released to the public by police, and over 26,000 tips being sent to police, no arrests have been made in the case.
At 1:45 p.m. on February 13, 2017, two friends, 13-year-old Abby Williams and 14-year-old Libby German, were dropped off by a family member (Libby's older sister Kelsi) at an abandoned railway bridge where they planned to go hiking. The girls were reported missing at 5:30 p.m. after they did not arrive to be picked up from the bridge. Authorities initially did not suspect foul play was involved in the disappearance until the bodies of the girls were found the next day, about 0.5 miles (0.80 km) from the bridge. The bodies were discovered around noon on February 14, 2017 about 50 feet from the north bank of Deer Creek.
Police have not publicly stated how the girls were murdered.
On February 15, police released a photo of a man they wanted to speak to about the murders, but did not officially identify him as a suspect until February 19. Police later released an audio recording of the suspect saying "Down the hill". The photo and voice recording were taken from German's cell phone. Authorities have indicated that more evidence relating to the suspect was found on the phone, but it will not be released so as not to "compromise any future trial". As of June 16, police had received an estimated 18,000 tips, with four to five new tips coming in daily.
Police released a composite sketch and description of the suspect on July 17. He is described as a white male between 5 feet 6 inches (168 cm) and 5 feet 10 inches (178 cm) tall, weighing between 180 (82 kg) and 220 pounds (100 kg) with reddish-brown hair.
Daniel J. Nations is a registered sex offender in Indiana who was arrested in Woodland Park, Colorado on September 2017 for threatening people with a hatchet on a Monument hiking trail. Nations was driving a car with expired Indiana plates at the time of his arrest. A bicyclist was also fatally shot on the trail around the same time Nations was allegedly threatening people. An El Paso County Sheriff's official told reporters there are "many similarities" between the cases but stated that Indiana investigators did not want any more information released.
Daniel Nations was sentenced to three years probation on January 5, 2018, for the charge of threatening hikers in Colorado, but he remains in police custody because he has an active warrant from another county. Nations was transferred to Indiana custody on an unrelated charge on January 24, 2018.
In early February 2018, police announced that Nations was no longer considered an active person of interest in the Delphi murders.
Thomas Bruce is an unemployed former pastor who entered a Catholic Supply store in St. Louis County, Missouri on November 19, 2018, sexually assaulted two women, and shot a third one when she refused to undress at his command. Bruce has a similar height (5 feet 7 inches to 5 feet 9 inches tall) and wore a flat cap and navy blue jacket during this attack similar to the person of interest in the Delphi case. Police explored his possible connection with the Delphi case in November. In December 4, Bruce was charged with 17 felony counts related to the St. Louis case and could be given the death penalty.
Charles Eldridge is a suspected sexual offender who was arrested in Union City, Indiana on January 8, 2019, on charges of child molestation. Police in Randolph County informed the FBI of a potential link to the Delphi murders due to strong resemblance between Eldridge and the sketches and photos of the person of interest.
In August 2017 the girls' families announced plans to construct a $1 million sports complex in Delphi in their memory.
In response to a request from German's mother, homeowners across central Indiana have installed orange light bulbs on their front porches, both to honor the slain girls and to indicate that their murderer remains at large.
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