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On Delphi and other 'high-profile' crimes: 'Sometimes it's a small little tip' that solves the case

Posted at 6:13 PM, Mar 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-03 21:46:28-05

DELPHI, Ind. -- The murders of two Delphi teens near an abandoned railroad bridge have brought international attention to the small Carroll County city – but that's not making them any easier to solve.

More than two weeks after the murders of Liberty German, 14, and Abigail Williams, 13, that attention has only intensified. Despite non-stop work by local and city police, and even assistance from the FBI, authorities have yet to catch the girls’ killer.

But the murders in Delphi are just two of the many unsolved, high-profile cases in Indiana and nationwide. As cases like the disappearance of Indiana University student Lauren Spierer show, widespread public interest does not always translate into case-solving tips.

“Usually they’re high-profile because they’re so difficult to solve and it’s so unusual, what’s occurred,” said former Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department chief Troy Riggs.

Earlier this year, the murders of two cousins working inside an Indianapolis restaurant also gained national attention. On January 3, Wesam Sammour and Ammar Shatnawi were shot and killed while closing up Jordan’s Fish and Chicken for the night near 21st Street and Post Road.

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In Delphi, police have so far released only a still image of a possible suspect and a brief audio clip – possibly of his voice. By comparison, IMPD has released an extended surveillance video of the masked men who they believe killed the men at Jordan's Fish and Chicken.

Nevertheless, their murders, too, remain unsolved.

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Riggs said detectives feel the pressure that comes with high-profile cases, but no one can apply more pressure than the detectives themselves.

“It weighs on them during their career. If it’s unsolved by the time they leave, it weighs on them all the way through retirement. Some detectives you talk to it haunts them the rest of their lives,” said Riggs.

Riggs said all detectives have the same goal.

“There are two things that investigators look forward to. Number 1: putting the handcuffs on the person that’s responsible and putting them in jail. Number 2: Telling the family members that they have captured the one that’s responsible for their loved one’s death," said Riggs. 

When a case becomes high-profile, Riggs said it doesn’t necessarily mean it will get solved quicker, but it also doesn’t make it unsolvable. 

“I like to think that in every case that’s open there’s always a chance, and there’s always someone out there who has information that could be pertinent to the case,” said Riggs.

And sometimes the extra attention can draw details from people who wouldn’t have thought twice about something before.

“Something we say about any homicide case: The more people get involved in the community, the better the chances are that we’re going to solve a case,” said Riggs. “Sometimes it’s a small little tip that puts someone in a place at a certain time that leads to a big type of crime.”

Indiana State Police hope the photo and audio they've released from Delphi will lead to one of those tips. Both were taken on Liberty's cell phone the day that she died. You can listen to that recording and see the photo below.

Indiana State Police ask anyone who recognizes the man or the voice, or who may have any other information, to call the Tip Line at (844) 459-5786 or 1-800-225-5324 (800-Call FBI). Tips can also be emailed to Information can be reported anonymously.

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