DELPHI - The year 2021 should be filled with cap & gowns, graduation parties, and college choices for Libby German and Abby Williams. Instead, their families are holding on to the hope that this is the year their killer is brought to justice.
“We will get answers. We will get answers. We will have to wait patiently for that,” Abby's mother, Anna Williams said.
It was on February 14, 2017, that the girls’ bodies were found not far from the Old Monon High Bridge.
The girls had gone on a walk to take photos when police say they encountered a man on that bridge. That unknown man has been the focus of an intense manhunt for the past four years. Although no arrests have been made in connection with the violent crime, family members say they remain confident in the investigators and the fact that someday the killer will be brought to justice.
“The message I want to convey is we haven’t given up faith in them, in their job and their duty and in their call,” Abby's grandfather Eric Erskin said.
“Be patient. Be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day," Libby's grandmother, Becky Patty, said. "There are so many cases out there that have gone on for years. I know they are moving forward. I know they know more today than they did yesterday. I just want to make sure it’s a good solid case. I don’t want them to rush it. I want it to be right and people need to understand that this isn’t a 60-minute TV show.”
Despite having a video, audio, and two sketches from potential witnesses in the area, investigators have yet to find the man responsible for their murders.
Indiana State Police have interviewed hundreds of people, including possible witnesses, suspects and anyone who may have information about suspicious activity on the day the girls went missing.
DELPHI TIMELINE | The search for Libby & Abby's killer
No new information has been released since April 2019 when police released an updated - and entirely different - sketch of the alleged suspect.
Below is a detailed look at everything we know that has been released by investigators so far in the investigation.
It was an unseasonably warm day and an unexpected day off from school when friends Liberty German and Abigail Williams decided to visit the trails near the Monon High Bridge and take some photographs.
A family member dropped the girls off that afternoon with a plan to pick them up a few hours later. When that pickup time arrived, the girls were nowhere to be found.
Calls to Libby’s cell phone went unanswered and eventually straight to voicemail.
First, the family began to search. When they were still missing later that afternoon, family members contacted the sheriff’s department for help.
Sheriff Leazenby told RTV6 that evening that they had no reason to believe the girls were in danger. At the time, crews thought the girls had simply gotten lost on the trails and were unable to find their way back.
Throughout the evening dozens of volunteers joined the search for the girls.
The only real clue of their location was a photo Libby had snapped of Abby walking along the bridge and posted to her social media.
As the sun went down and the temperature dropped, the search continued through midnight when it was officially suspended, although some family and friends did continue to search into the overnight hours.
That next morning would bring a discovery that none of them were prepared for.
Tragedy Near Deer Creek
The search for Libby and Abby resumed on Valentine’s Day morning, Feb. 14, 2017.
Crews widened the scope of their search as soon as the sun came up, wandering further from the abandoned railroad tracks and into wooded areas below the bridge and along Deer Creek.
The official search had barely resumed when one of the search teams made a gruesome discovery.
The bodies of Libby and Abby were found on the back end of a private piece of property less than a mile from where they were dropped off the day before.
No details surrounding how the girls were found or their cause of death have ever been released.
“I can’t say there’s not a threat to the community,” Indiana State Police Sgt. Kim Riley told RTV6 at the time. "We have not caught the person yet. Is the person still in the community? We don’t know.”
The evidence released publicly since Libby and Abby were murdered remains minimal.
The key evidence in the case is a video that was taken by Libby, likely in the moments before her death.
Although the full context of what took place on that video has never been released, Libby German has been heralded a “hero” for having the presence of mind to begin recording.
The full video and audio remain unseen by the public eye, but investigators say it was taken during "suspected criminal activity."
Investigators have released two grainy images from that video that shows a man we’re to believe was behind the girls on that bridge, a short clip of that man walking, an audio recording of a man — presumably the same one — saying “Guys. Down the hill” and two sketches from possible witnesses in the area the day the girls were murdered.
Another key piece of the puzzle that investigators have released is that they believe the man who murdered Libby and Abby was either from Delphi or was familiar with Delphi either because he works there or has other connections.
“I’ve walked across the high bridge myself. It’s 65-70 feet off the river deck. It hasn’t had a train on it since 1929," Carter said during a press conference on April 22, 2019. "The ties are starting to rot. It sways back and forth and it’s not something you can just jump on and walk straight across if you’ve never done it before. I decided I was going to take the riverbank going back, I didn’t. That wasn’t the first time he’s been on that high bridge, my opinion, again that’s my opinion. I experienced it and I kept a piece of the high bridge and I’ll carry it with me until we find out who this is."
The Two Grainy Photos
Police released the images they say were taken straight from Libby’s cell phone, on Feb. 15, 2017 — the day after the girls’ bodies were found.
Both images, shown below, depict the same white man wearing blue jeans, a blue coat/jacket and a hoodie.
Days after Libby and Abby were found dead, police officially named that man a “person of interest” in their murders.
The context surrounding the images, which were stills from a moving video, has never been given.
The Two Audio Clips
A brief audio clip, which police have always said was just a small clip of what they have from Libby’s phone, was released on Feb. 22, 2017.
The audio of a man’s voice saying “down the hill” was seconds long and was released free of video.
Police have only said that the video it came from captured the man telling the girls to go “down the hill” during possible “criminal activity.” They have never elaborated further on that description.
More than two years later, on April 22, 2019, Indiana State Police released a new piece of audio that is a slightly extended version of the initial clip and includes the word “Guys” followed by “Down the Hill.”
Although the audio may appear to be a different voice, Indiana State Police were clear when they released it that the extended clip was all the same person.
"Please keep in mind that the person talking is one person and is the person on the bridge with the girls" Carter said. "This is not two people speaking. Please listen to it very, very carefully."
Listen to that extended clip below.
The Video Clip
At that same April 22 press conference, Indiana State Police also released never-before-seen video of “bridge guy” that was taken by Libby on the day that she died. The video shows the suspect walking along the bridge behind Libby and Abby.
“When you see the video, watch the person’s mannerisms as they walk,” Carter said when they released it. “Do you recognize the mannerisms as being someone that you might know?”
Carter also said because they know where the man was walking on the bridge his walk is not natural because of the spacing between the ties and the deterioration in that area of the bridge.
Watch the video clip below.
The Two Sketches
Five months into the investigation, Indiana State Police released their first sketch and description of a suspect.
That first composite sketch was created after police said they received information from witnesses who were in the area at the time Libby and Abby went missing.
At the time, the suspect was described as a white man between 5-feet 6-inches tall and 5-feet 10-inches tall, weighing 180 to 220 pounds with reddish-brown hair and an unknown eye color.
In that first sketch, shown below, detectives say the man’s hat was changed to make his facial features more recognizable.
A second sketch was released at the press conference held on April 22, 2019.
That sketch, which appears to be of an entirely different person, is now believed to be the main person of interest in the murders of Libby and Abby.
Along with the new sketch, police also updated their description of the suspect to be a man between 18 and 40 years old, who could appear much younger than he actually is.
"When we decided that, through the information we received, that we were going to release the second sketch I don’t believe the individual knew we were going to do that. So, it was really, really important. I think he was probably there and/or watching, simply because he thought we were on the wrong path," Carter said when the second sketch was released.
The sketches were composed from witness accounts of two separate individuals who were in the area on the day of the murders. Indiana State Police later revealed that the second sketch, released more than two years after the girls were killed, was actually the first sketch they had drawn up.
They also say they now believe that the second sketch is a more accurate depiction of the suspect, although the actual suspect may likely be a mix between both sketches.
"The sketch isn’t a photograph. A sketch is a sketch and that’s really important for everybody to understand," Carter said. "I believe that the individual, when we catch him, it will be a combination of those two.”
During the press conference in April 2019, Indiana State Police also requested the public's help to identify the driver of a vehicle that was parked near the Monon High Bridge on the day Libby and Abby went missing.
Carter says a vehicle was parked at the old CPS/DCS Welfare building in Delphi on the east side of County Road 300 North, next to the Hoosier Heartland Highway between noon and 5 p.m. February 14, 2017. No details about that vehicle were released, including make and model, color or license plate number.
“We believe you are hiding in plain sight,” Carter said. “For more than two years…. We likely have interviewed you or someone close to you. We know that this is about power to you, and you want to know what we know – that one day, you will.”
So far, no additional information has been released and Indiana State Police have still not identified the vehicle or a possible person who may have been driving it.
Quelling Internet Rumors
Libby and Abby's deaths quickly became an unsolved mystery that was thrust into the national spotlight.
While police continue their search for the Delphi killer, people across the country have been coming up with their own theories about who is responsible. Investigators say speculations, rumors and comparisons can actually do more to hinder the investigation than to help it.
In the past three years, only one person of interest has ever been named. But during the one-year press conference marking the Delphi murders, state police said Daniel Nations was "not someone we care a whole lot about at this moment in time."
Since then, no other potential suspects have been named by investigators.
The Tips Keep Coming
Although it has been three long years since that warm February day, Indiana State Police say they still receive new tips about Abby and Libby’s murders almost daily.
Every one of those tips and potential leads that are called in and emailed to the Delphi tip lines — more than 40,000 so far — is vetted by investigators.
Every tip received is entered into an FBI system called “Pyramid.” That system stores information like names, descriptions and motives so it can be cross-referenced with other tips locally and across the country to find any possible connections.
The process is always working, comparing tips received about the Delphi murders with hundreds of other cases and tips. Investigators say they have worked a number of tips and leads that have come directly from that system or the tip line, although they say both have been able to connect dots they had no idea existed.
How You Can Help
Keeping track of those tips is a major undertaking. Investigators say the more information a tipster can give them, the better, because the more information they can enter into the system – the more potential connections can be made and checked.
Investigators have shared insight into what makes a good, solid tip.
That includes things like:
- Suspect Nam
- Date of Birth or Approximate Age
- Physical Description (i.e. height, weight, hair color, eye color)
- Specific Address or Location Last Seen
- Specific Vehicle Descriptions (i.e. license plate, year, make, model, color)
- Specific Reason for Tip (i.e. Why could they be the suspect?
- Motivation for Crime
- Connection to Delphi
Tips can remain anonymous.
The reward for information leading to the arrest of the Delphi killer is over $250,000.
Tip Information Contacts
Tip Line: (844) 459-5786
Indiana State Police: (800) 382-7537