The Delphi Murders

Before I began researching and writing about this case, I knew virtually nothing about it, so I was pretty much starting from the beginning. It’s been just over 2 years since the bodies of Abby and Libby were discovered on February 14th 2017 in their hometown of Delphi, Indiana. No one has been found guilty of the heinous slayings of the two girls and authorities have released relatively little information.

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The lack of solid facts on this case has created a breeding ground for rumors to be born and grow legs. It’s difficult sometimes to tell what’s fact and what’s fiction.

What is true is that rumors can be damaging and hinder an investigation. They can cause more pain and hurt to families trying to grieve for their loved ones. For these reasons, I’m not going to indulge these rumors here.  

Since publishing this post, there have been updates on the investigation. You can read my post on the updates here.

Abigail ‘Abby’ Williams and Liberty ‘Libby’ German

Abby’s mother, Anna, and grandparents, and Libby’s grandparents, Mike and Becky Patty and her sister, Kelsi, have been working with investigators in any way they can to help keep the case alive. They have spoken at press conferences and they have not shied away from the media in order to keep the case out in the open. I am completely in awe of their strength and grace at this unimaginably painful time as they wait for justice for their girls.

Abby with her mom Anna

Abby with her mom Anna

Mike and Becky Patty speak at a press conference in March 2017

Mike and Becky Patty speak at a press conference in March 2017

Libby (right) and her sister Kelsi (left)

Libby (right) and her sister Kelsi (left)

In 2018, the families of both girls attended CrimeCon in Nashville, where Anna, Mike, Becky and Sergeant Jerry Holeman of the Indiana State Police participated in a question and answer session about the murders with host Ashleigh Banfield. Libby’s sister, Kelsi, has made it her mission to seek justice for Abby and Libby. You can find her Twitter here and her Instagram here.

Abby and Libby were best friends, spending endless hours together both in and out of school. They were in the school band together, loved to explore the outdoors and take photos, and planned to start playing softball together at school.

Abby and Libby

Abby and Libby

Libby was thoughtful, loving, generous and outgoing. She loved sports, especially swimming, being outside, painting and baking. Her ambition was to be a science teacher or a crime scene investigator, and she even attended extra science classes outside of school at Purdue University. 

According to her mom, Anna, Abby was always smiling. She was caring, selfless, funny and loved being with friends and family. Abby was creative; she loved art and photography and making things to give people as gifts. Abby played volleyball at school and enjoyed going on camping trips with her family.

The Abby and Libby Celebration of Life has become annual event, the last one taking place on September 29, 2018. All proceeds from the event went to the Abby and Libby Memorial Park fund. The park is still under construction and is still actively accepting donations to move the process along. To find out more, go here.

 

February 13 - 15, 2017

February 13th

It was a warm day for Indiana in February. Liberty German (14) and Abigail Williams (13) attended Delphi Community Middle School, which was closed that Monday for teacher training and meetings. Delphi, located in Carroll County, Indiana, is a very small city of just under 3000 people.  

The two girls decided that they would spend the afternoon enjoying the weather and walking around the Delphi Historic Trails. At approximately 1.35pm, Libby’s sister Kelsi dropped them off at the trailhead of the Monon High Bridge Trail. Nothing seemed amiss that afternoon, until another family member arrived to collect the girls at an agreed time and place and no one was there. It soon became evident that something was wrong. The families of the girls searched the area for several hours but found nothing. At 5:30pm, Abby and Libby were reported missing.

The start of the Monon High Bridge trail

The start of the Monon High Bridge trail

The Monon High Bridge

The Monon High Bridge

Carroll County Sheriff’s Department, led by Sheriff Tobe Leazenby, the Delphi Police Department, the Delphi Fire Department and members of the public all took part in the search for the two girls. At 11:45pm, the search was called off due to darkness, but was resumed the next morning.

February 14th

At 12.45pm on the February 14th, two bodies were found by the Fire Department and members of the public close to Deer Creek, about a half a mile east of the Monon High Bridge. The Fire Department Chief reported the findings as ‘not good’. The media were informed of the discovery, but not of the identities of the bodies.

Map outlining key locations in the case

Map outlining key locations in the case

February 15th

Autopsies were performed on the bodies and it was confirmed that they were those of Abby Williams and Libby German. It was also confirmed that the girls had been murdered.

To this day, we do not know the cause of death and the autopsy report is sealed.

 

The Evidence – what do we know?

The girls were murdered after 2:07pm, the time which Libby sent a Snapchat of Abby walking on the Monon High Bridge. They were murdered (or taken somewhere) before the family member arrived to pick them up (which I’ve read was around 3:15).

Libby’s snapchat of Abby on the bridge

Libby’s snapchat of Abby on the bridge

The two pieces of evidence that have made this case stand out are a photo of a man and a voice recording, both recorded by Libby on her phone. She actually recorded a video of the man walking, but only a still image from the video has been released to the public. The picture shows a white male looking down while walking across the bridge. He has his hands in his pockets and is wearing jeans, a navy blue jacket and a hat that appears to have flaps over his ears. 

The photo taken by Libby of the man on the bridge.

The photo taken by Libby of the man on the bridge.

Initially, investigators stated they only wished to talk to the man in the picture. However, several days passed and it was announced that he was officially a suspect.

The audio is a man’s voice saying ‘down the hill’. More audio exists, but investigators have not released it. The audio is described as being muffled; it has been suggested that Libby may have recorded the man with her phone inside her pocket. You can listen to it here.

Just over a week after the girls were found murdered, 46 states displayed 6000 electronic billboards with an enhanced version of the picture Libby had taken of the man on the bridge. By the 9th of March, the reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspect climbed to $240,000. 

The bodies were found at the edge of the property of 77-year-old Ronald Logan. Logan was a habitual traffic offender and had multiple DUIs. At the time of the murders, he was on parole for these offences. On the afternoon of the murders, he had driven to the county dump and had been seen drinking in a Pizza King restaurant for several hours. Investigators established that Logan had no involvement in the murders, however, he was jailed in April 2017 for violating his parole.

On July 17th 2012, Indiana State Police released the sketch (below) of the man on the bridge. He is described as a white male, between 5’6” and 5’10”, weighing 180 to 220 pounds, with reddish brown hair. There are a variety of reports, but from what I can tell he is expected to be 40 – 55 years old.

The sketch released by police of the man on the bridge

The sketch released by police of the man on the bridge

Unfortunately, this has resulted in a surge of Internet detectives putting the sketch next to individuals they think look similar and posting it on forums. As I mentioned earlier, this does not help the investigation and can be very damaging to the reputation of innocent individuals.

 

What do we not know?

A lot. I’ve got no doubt in my mind that the investigators know far more than they’re letting on. They need to keep evidence close to the chest so that when they find their suspect, they can ask him questions that only he would know the answer to, for example, regarding specific injuries to the bodies.

  • If there was DNA evidence found at the scene.

  • If the girls were sexually assaulted.

  • How Abby and Libby died.

That there was “new evidence” found earlier in January 2019: Carroll County Sheriff Tobe Leazenby quashed the rumors that there was any new evidence. They continue to analyse at the evidence they already have for anything they may have missed. 

Daniel Nations

At one time, 31-year-old Daniel Nations was considered a ‘person of interest’ in the Delphi murders. In September 2017, Nations was arrested at Mount Herman, Colorado for threatening hikers with a hatchet. He pleaded guilty in December 2017, for which he received 3 years supervised probation and possible prison time if he was violating the terms of his probation.

In February 2018, deputies from Johnson County, Indiana, went to Colorado to retrieve Nations and book him into the county jail, as he was facing charges in Indiana for failing to register as a sex offender. Investigators in the Delphi murders received a number of tips regarding the similarity between Nations’s mugshot and the sketch of the man on the bridge in Delphi. He was also said to be living homeless in Morgan County, Indiana at the time Abby and Libby’s bodies were discovered.

However, in mid February, 2018, investigators announced Nations was not a suspect in the Delphi murders.

Daniel Nations’s mugshot compared with the sketch of the man on the bridge

Daniel Nations’s mugshot compared with the sketch of the man on the bridge

Just a rumor

In January 2019, a rumor started that investigators believed 46-year-old Charles Eldridge, who was arrested for sex crimes against children in Randolph County, Indiana (over 100 miles away from Delphi), could be the Delphi murderer. No doubt Eldridge is a vile human being who deserves to be locked up, but there was nothing to link him to the Delphi murders other than the fact that he bears some resemblance to the sketch of the Delphi suspect.

Randolph County Sheriff’s Department responded with an open letter to the public stating:

“Outside of the person resembling the sketch, there is currently zero evidence that ties him to the [Delphi] case and he is not a suspect”

 Following on from this, they also said:

 “Although we understand that people are trying to help the investigation, by doing this with zero evidence other than a mere appearance, it can also hurt or hinder an investigation.”

My Thoughts on The Murders

A little bit of my own detective work, which could be completely wrong. If you’re not interested in any kind of speculation then skip over this part!

I personally don’t think the suspect is from Delphi – in a city of less that 3000, people know each other and would be able to identify the man on the bridge from his appearance and/or his voice.

Therefore I think that he murdered the girls and then left the area pretty much immediately after. With the number of people searching for Abby and Libby, surely someone would have seen him if he stayed in the area. The photo wasn’t released until several days later but people would have remembered seeing a man all bundled up in a coat with a hat on (unless he took off his jacket etc. and inserted himself into the search?)

I think it was a crime of opportunity; I don’t think he planned it. I think Abby and Libby were just horribly unlucky in that they were in the wrong place at the wrong time and found themselves faced with a very evil man. Assuming he’s not from Delphi, he wouldn’t have known that the girls would have the Monday afternoon off school. Perhaps he saw them being dropped off and followed them, but I think that would have been the extent of any planning he did.

We don’t know details of how the girls were killed - if he used a knife, a gun, another weapon or his hands. I think it’s possible that he may have been concealing some kind of weapon under his coat. I don’t want to speculate much more than that though.

We also don’t know what else was on the audio that Libby recorded and I think there is more to it. The main reason the authorities released this short clip was likely because they wanted to see if someone could recognise the voice. Therefore, because it’s so short, it’s difficult to know the context. I’m inclined to say it’s a command to the girls to go ‘down the hill’, which would make sense, given their bodies were found at the bottom of the hill near Deer Creek. It could be that the rest of the audio contains some sort of threat, but that remains to be seen.

The audio recording likely took place on the bridge, which was in pretty bad shape; it’s not a bridge you could run across if you needed to get away from someone.

 

What We Can Do

To people who have followed this case closely and/or you’re interested in true crime, you probably won’t find new information here. If you don’t know this case at all, I hope you feel you know a bit more after reading this!

The most important thing now, as time marches on, is that people keep talking about this case. The more it stays on people’s minds, the more likely it is that investigators will receive the tip they need to crack the case. 

On the two-year anniversary of the murders, Carroll County Prosecutor Nicholas McLeland emphasized that the case is not cold. Since the girls were murdered, police have received over 38,000 tips; at present, they still receive at least 12 tips a day.

If you live in or around the area and have information you think might help, even if you think it’s only a tiny detail, PLEASE call and let the police know. It could be just the tip that they need, you never know.

The poster for the Abby and Libby Memorial Park

The poster for the Abby and Libby Memorial Park

 

Here are the details if you have information:

Delphi Homicide Investigation Tip Line at 844-459-5786

Indiana State Police at 800-382-7537

The Carroll County Sheriff’s Department at 765-564-2413

Email Abbyandlibbytip@cacoshrf.com

 

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