DELPHI, Ind. -- It’s been four months since two Delphi teens were found murdered in a wooded area near the Monon High Bridge but investigators say the case is far from going cold.
Liberty “Libby” German and Abigail “Abby” Williams went missing February 13 while hiking. Their bodies were found the next morning in a wooded area on a private piece of property less than a mile from the last place they were seen alive.
It was a 24 hour period that turned the small town of Delphi upside down and made them the center of a national murder mystery.
Although four months have passed, investigators say each day brings them one step closer to solving the crime and finding the person or persons responsible.
“To call this a cold case is just ridiculous,” said lead investigator First Sgt. Jerry Holeman with the Indiana State Police. “It’s not even close.”
In those four months, investigators have sifted through thousands of tips and made dozens of unrelated arrests, but so far no one is behind bars in connection with Libby and Abby's murders.
Sgt. Holeman says the Delphi investigation has been one of the hardest cases he’s ever worked – but he’s not giving up hope that they will find the girls’ killer.
“It’s like a 5,000 piece puzzle,” said Sgt. Holeman. “We have the edge put together, that’s what you do first, you put the corners together and put the edge together – but there’s a lot of missing pieces in the middle.”
Investigators have sifted through thousands of tips and hundreds of leads to find those pieces.
“The thing we don’t have is the box with the picture on it,” said Sgt. Holeman. “If you can imagine doing that, putting together a 5,000 piece puzzle without a picture, it makes it difficult.”
But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be impossible – Sgt. Holeman says it will just take time.
“We have months and months of work to do until we find the monster who is responsible for this,” said Sgt. Holeman. “It's not even close to being cold. Right now we’re just eliminating people as suspects.”
Sgt. Holeman says that even though they’re four months in, they haven’t slowed down. Investigators are still knocking on doors and tracking down people who were in the area at the time the girls first disappeared.
“Today is the day we are going to work our butts off and find that piece of evidence that will break this case open,” said Sgt. Holeman. “We’re close.”
DELPHI DAUGHTERS | The Untold Stories of Who Abby & Libby Were
The murders of Abby and Libby haven’t been easy for anyone involved, especially investigators who have been criticized by the public for not releasing more details about the girls’ deaths.
Sgt. Holeman says it is difficult for someone outside of the investigation to see, but there is a reason for the limited public information.
“We use this term a lot – we have to protect the integrity of the investigation,” said Sgt. Holeman. “Whoever did this is probably the only person who knows some of the details of this case.”
That’s because the hardest part of this case isn’t going to be arresting a suspect – it’s going to be proving, without a reasonable doubt, that that person is responsible for the crime, so they won’t be set free based on lack of evidence.
DELPHI DAUGHTERS | Families tell their story for the first time
Sgt. Holeman says he also believes there is still someone out there who knows something they haven’t shared yet and it could be that one person - that one piece of information – that helps them catch the girls’ killer.
“We realize everybody wants to help,” said Sgt. Holeman. “We appreciate that, but sometimes it impedes our investigation. Keep calling in tips and leads, that’s what we want. If you get something that you want us to follow up on –call us – let us do our job, we will.”
As the investigation continues the number of tips they receive has gone down, but it hasn’t stopped. Holeman says they are still receiving 10 to 15 tips and leads each day.
Some days investigators will look into up to 20 different leads.
“Some people do their own investigative work for us,” said Sgt. Holeman. “If we get a lot of information from some of those tips we can cover it a little quicker.”
Sgt. Holeman said their number one priority right now is to bring justice for Abby and Libby’s family – but their second priority is to make sure something like this never happens again.
“The monster(s) that did this possibly could do this again, and next time it could be your sister or daughter or granddaughter or cousin – somebody you know and love and care about – and we don’t want that, that’s what keeps us awake at night as law enforcement officers.”
Indiana State Police released a picture of a suspect, which was taken by Liberty on her cell phone. She also captured a man's voice saying "down the hill" during what police call "criminal activity." You can listen to that recording and see the photo below.
If you recognize the person pictured above or have any information about someone who has been acting strange since Abby and Libby first went missing, contact the Delphi Tip Line at (844) 459-5786 or 1-800-225-5324. Tips can also be emailed to AbbyandLibbyTip@cacoshrf.com. Information can be reported anonymously.
“We hope today is the day,” said Sgt. Holeman. “And today -is- the day we’re going to put in 110 percent effort; we’re going to utilize every resource that’s available to go out there and follow up on the tips and leads that we’re getting. Everybody wants to solve this today - Us too.”