The Delphi Murders
On February 13th, 2017, two girls from small-town Delphi, Indiana decided to take a stroll along one of the region’s historic trails. There, they were accosted by a strange man - who they managed to capture in both video and audio. Yet, years later, their murders remain unsolved… and this strange man remains unidentified…
Delphi is a small town in the state of Indiana, about twenty miles northeast of Lafayette. Located along the Wabach River, Delphi is roughly halfway between Indianapolis and Chicago, to give you a general idea of where it's located.
While Delphi has an incredibly small population - less than 3,000 people call Delphi "home" - roughly a quarter-million people live in the region defined as the Lafayette Metropolitan Statistical Area. So while Delphi itself has the reputation for being a small town - you know, the kind where "everybody knows everybody," that whole thing - it is really just part of a larger grid, connected to dozens of other cities and towns.
Up until recently, Delphi, Indiana was just a blip on the map: a stopgap town that people would occasionally dip into because of its proximity to other cities - or, on the rare occasion, its scenic parks would attract some day-trippers from out of the region (primarily hikers and outdoorsmen). Since 2017, though, Delphi has become synonymous with a violent incident that unfolded within it: a double-murder that ensnared two of the most vulnerable among us... children.
This was the type of crime that had never been seen before in this region, and - despite police releasing several details of this supposed killer to the public - he has managed to escape identification and prosecution in the years since.
This is the story of Abigail Williams and Liberty German.
Liberty Rose Lynn German was born on December 27th, 2002, to Derrick German and Carrie Timmons. She would have five sisters - Kelsi, Glenna, Alexis, and Hayden - and would become incredibly close with her grandparents, Mike and Betty Patty, who were her primary guardians.
As a child, Liberty loved baking, painting, and other crafts, and was described as an incredibly bright young girl that earned good grades and was constantly battling to be the best student in each of her classes. She also had a love of the outdoors and athletics, and was active in volleyball, softball, soccer, and swimming.
Liberty was attending Delphi Community Middle School, and was in the 8th grade. She had just recently celebrated her 14th birthday ahead of her best friend, Abby - whom she had become close with after playing on the same 7th grade volleyball team. In the roughly year-and-a-half since, the two had become inseparable.
Another friend of Liberty's named Arika Gibson - who always knew Liberty by her nickname, "Libby" - recalled her as being a "band geek" who was very outgoing and incredibly smart. She says that Libby was "huge on science" and had been inspired to become a science teacher while attending Delphi Community Middle School. She had even started taking classes over in Lafayette; most specifically, at Purdue University.
According to her friend Arika, Libby was also a supportive and loving friend, who was always there to provide words of wisdom or a shoulder to cry on for anyone that needed either.
Abigail Joyce Williams was born on June 23rd, 2003, to her mother, Anna Williams. Whoever her father was, he didn't play an active role in her life, and Abigail - nicknamed "Abby," for short - had no other siblings. However, in addition to having a strong bond with her mother, she was close with her grandparents, Eric and Diane Erskin - whom she nicknamed Pah-Paw and Mee-Maw, respectively - as well as her aunts, uncles, cousins, and other grandfather, Cliff.
Abby loved being outdoors: in particular, she loved riding ATV's while on camping trips with her family in Michigan. She also loved other activities that engaged her creatively; in addition to reading, she loved photography, art, and drawing.
Abby was known as a person that was hard to crack... at least, at first. But once she did, she had a reputation for being fiercely loyal and loving... and incredibly rambunctious. Hagen Jacobs, a family friend, recalled:
"[She] had the best personality. She was seriously so fearless and loving like, she loved. Like she had to warm up to you at first but she was so kind."
Abby also attending Delphi Community Middle School, and was in the same grade as Liberty: 8th grade. Arika GIbson - a fellow student that was friends with both Libby and Abby - said that Abby was:
"... quiet in front of people, but she was not quiet at all in front of [our group of friends]."
In addition to playing saxophone in the school band, Abby also played on the volleyball team.
As she approached her 14th birthday, Abigail was looking forward to high school and all of the adventures that came with it - which she was planning to face alongside her best friend, Liberty.
February 13th, 2017 was the day before Valentine's Day. It was a Monday, and also a planned snow day: a day in the middle of winter set aside for the school schedule, just in case. If you're unfamiliar, a planned snow day is just a day set aside at the beginning of the school year to help keep the schedule from overflowing into the summer. Since there had been no major closures up to that point, it just became a day off for the students and faculty.
In the year leading up to this point, Abby and Libby had become incredibly close; as had their families. The two girls had spent the night together prior to this day off, and - earlier in the day - made the impromptu decision to go hiking in an area that Libby was familiar with. It was unusually warm for a winter day, so they wanted to make the best of it and spend a few hours outdoors.
At around 1:45 that afternoon, Abby and Libby were dropped off at a trail-head by Kelsi (Libby's older sister). The entrance to the trail - known as Freedom Bridge - was located along County Road West 300 North, near the Hoosier Heartland Highway, a wooded area a couple of miles away from downtown Delphi.
The trail itself - which is one of Delphi's historic trails - runs along an old, abandoned railroad track. Eventually, this path leads to an old railroad bridge, which overlooks the body of water named Deer Creek. This bridge - aptly named the Monon High Bridge - lives up to its namesake: it's roughly 60 feet tall, making it the 2nd highest bridge in all of Indiana. It's also incredibly old, having been built in the 1890's, and includes many gaps - which can make walking along the bridge a thrilling experience. It can also be hard to walk quickly on, as your eyes are forced down to the bridge itself, as you look for any footholds and look to avoid tripping. After all, more than 50 feet above the creek, this is the last place you'd want to trip.
Roughly half an hour after being dropped off at the trail-head, the two girls posted a couple of pictures to Snapchat. One picture was a black-and-white photo of the bridge itself, while another - which would be widely-circulated just hours later - featured Abby crossing the bridge.
This would be the girls' last known location.
About an hour after these photos were posted to Snapchat - sometime after 3:00 PM - Libby's father, Derrick, arrived at their predetermined pickup location. He had arranged to pick up the girls, and - a few minutes before arriving - tried calling Libby's cell phone to let her know he was almost there. Libby would not answer her phone, and - for several minutes after Derrick got to the pickup spot - the girls would fail to show up.
Derrick continued calling Libby's cell phone, but there was no answer. He eventually got out of his car and started walking the trail. As he did, he passed an older gentleman - who was in his mid-to-late 70's - who was wearing a flannel shirt and walking along the trail. He asked this man if he had seen the girls, and the older man said that he hadn't.
For the record: that man is not suspected of any wrongdoing. He just happened to be walking along the trail that Monday.
Eventually, a brief search would ensue, with Derrick and some other family members looking for the two girls along the trail. And at around 5:30 PM, the decision was made to report the girls as missing.
After failing to make it to the pickup location, family members of Abby and Libby began to canvas the area looking for them. At around 5:30 PM, the girls were officially reported missing to the Carroll County Sheriff's Department, who sent out officials to begin looking for them.
The search for the two girls - which set off early that evening - was conducted by the aforementioned sheriff's department, as well as by members of the Delphi Police Department, the Delphi Fire Department, and the Department of Natural Resources. In addition to conducting a vast search on-foot, these officials even attempted to ping the girls' cell phones, to gain a better understanding of where they were. But it was believed that their phones were dead or turned off, as their phones had stopped pinging earlier in the day.
The search lasted for several hours, expanding out from the girl's last known location: the Monon High Bridge they posted photos of on Snapchat. But the encroaching darkness was making the terrain nearly impossible to traverse, and with the temperature dropping below freezing, the search was called off shortly before midnight.
At the time the search was called off, police did not suspect foul-play. At least, not immediately. Carroll County Sheriff Tobe Leazenby did not believe the girls were in immediate danger, and did not think that further efforts - such as issuing an Amber Alert - would be necessary. The biggest threat, he considered, was the elements.
Police believed that the girls were still alive, and had just decided to travel to a friend's house without telling their family; a belief that seemed to be based upon their age and very little else. Unfortunately, this belief would be proven completely wrong a little more than twelve hours later.
The search for Abby and Libby picked up again the following morning: on Tuesday, February 14th.
The search crews gathered near the Monon High Bridge at around 10:00 AM, hoping to expand outwards in separate directions and cover a good plot of land during daylight hours. This included both K-9 units and specialized dive teams, who began to search in and around local bodies of water.
This search only last a couple of hours, however, as a discovery was made by the Delphi Fire Department shortly after noon. At around 12:45 PM, officials with the fire department had followed a set of footprints to a location roughly 50 feet away from the north bank of Deer Creek - roughly half-a-mile east of the bridge. The Delphi Fire Chief reported the discovery as "not good," and indicated that it was the missing girls' bodies.
Police would not disclose any details about this discovery - at least, not immediately. The only detail that became public knowledge was that this discovery was made on a plot of land belonging to a local man named Ronald Logan, who police believe did not have anything to do with this crime. It was just a large plot of wooded land along Deer Creek, and police would withhold almost all of their information about this discovery.
Later that afternoon, a brief press conference was held with officials for the Delphi Police Department, Carroll County Sheriff's Department, and Indiana State Police speaking to the media. As you'll hear, they were very vague about any details, and seemed unwilling to admit that the discovery pertained to the two missing girls.
The following day - February 15th, 2017 - police would confirm that the bodies found the day prior were indeed Liberty German and Abigail Williams.
This followed an autopsy in Terra Haute, Indiana, but the results from that autopsy would be immediately sealed. Despite the press announcing that the girls had been murdered, they would refuse to release any specific details, such as the cause-of-death.
Sgt. Kim Riley of the Indiana State Police later told the press:
"There is somebody out there who did this crime, and we're going to find them."
Later that evening, police would release a photo of a man they wanted to speak to. The man was someone who had been walking on the same trail the victims were on; in fact, the photo that was released showed him walking along the same stretch of bridge that the two girls had photographed and uploaded to Snapchat shortly before their deaths.
The image of this man was cropped from a much larger image; hence, him being a vague, heavily-pixelated figure that is hard to make out. However, based on this image, we can make out several details of this individual. He is a regular Joe-looking character - perhaps somewhat heavyset - who was wearing blue jeans, a Navy Blue-colored jacket, a hoodie underneath the jacket, and perhaps a paperboy-looking hat. He was photographed walking with his head down and his hands in his pockets.
Police did not officially name this man a suspect, just a "person-of-interest" that they would like to speak to. However, that would change several days later - on February 19th - when he was officially named the primary suspect in this investigation.
Following the release of this image, authorities lauded Liberty German, one of the two victims, who had managed to capture not only an image of this man before her death, but also video and audio. Despite being incredibly young, Libby had had the wherewithal to turn on her phone's camera and record this individual as he approached the two girls, not knowing if he would do them any harm... but that he might.
It was unknown if police recovered Libby's phone at the crime scene - or if the files were taken directly from the cloud backup her phone was linked to - but her quick-thinking had given police their first real lead in the case. In fact, if this case ever gets solved, many credit 14-year old Libby German for preemptively helping solve her own murder.
Sergeant Tony Slocum, of the Indiana State Police, stated:
"That young lady is a hero, that is no doubt. To have enough presence of mind to active the video system on her cell phone to record what we belief is criminal behavior... about to occur, there is no doubt in our mind that she is a hero."
The likely culprit of this heinous crime had been captured on Libby German's cell phone - not only in an image, but both audio and video.
The video - which has not been released to the public - shows this strange man walking towards the two girls, who were actively filming him. The image that was widely circulated just days after the girls' deaths was taken from this video; a small snippet, perhaps, but enough to capture this man's overall appearance.
The audio - which was likely taken from this longer video - reveals the man telling the girls "down the hill." I'll let you hear it for yourself.
It is widely believed that this audio clip was the man telling the girls to go "down the hill" on the southeast side of the bridge, where he had likely followed and then cornered them. I'll play the audio clip again.
It is believed that Libby had recorded a much longer video segment, which the audio and image came from, and many think that the audio was recorded with the phone concealed (perhaps in Libby's pocket or something like that). It is possible that this longer segment includes either video or audio of the crime itself being carried out, which is why investigators are hesitant to release many more details about what was captured or recorded on Libby's phone. They want to protect not only the investigation, but - god willing - any subsequent trial.
However, police have revealed details about this alleged culprit, who is believed to be a white male who stands somewhere between 5'6" and 5'10", weighs somewhere between 180 and 220 pounds, with reddish-brown hair and an unknown eye color. His age is undetermined; with him originally believed to be middle-aged, but that would evolve as the case continued evolving over the next couple of years. Investigators now believe he is anywhere between 18 and 40 years old, with a potentially youthful appearance.
This unknown subject - who has been nicknamed "Bridge Guy" or "BG" in various online circles - was originally named a "person of interest" by police, who simply wanted to speak to him. But just days later, police would amend that, and label him a suspect in the murder - as well as the most likely culprit. Officials with the Indiana State Police would state:
"During the course of the investigation, preliminary evidence has led investigators to believe the person, in the distributed photo, is suspected of having participated in the murders of Abigail Williams and Liberty German."
A composite image of this man was released to the public months later, in June of 2017. Police would claim that this sketch was the result of information called into the tip line, as well as additional information obtained through follow-up investigations. This is the sketch that would be widely-circulated in the aftermath of the crime, but - as we'll soon learn - this may not have been accurate... or even helpful.
The investigation - which was a joint effort between Indiana State Police and the Carroll County Sheriff's Department - began looking over the stories of those close to the victims. This included family members and friends: those that are typically looked into at the onset of any investigation.
In the meantime, other investigators began to look at registered sex offenders in the region; which, in itself, is not an indication that any sexual crimes took place. Rather, this is just the natural starting point for any similar investigation.
Police also looked to obtain security footage from any establishments nearby, using them to identify people that had been near the crime scene on the day in-question. It is also believed that cell phone records were looked over, in an attempt to find any cell phones that had pinged near the two girls in the time-frame of their death.
Sergeant Kim Riley of the Indiana State Police stated:
"We're checking their cell phones, we're checking their social media places - Twitter, Facebook and that - to see if there's some type of connection there. We're looking at every possible option."
"Everybody is a suspect."
The case drew attention to Delphi from all over the country, with celebrities like Nancy Grace, Dr. Oz, and Dr. Phil taking an interest in the case. Each covered the show on their programs in 2017, bringing a spotlight to this little-known region in Indiana. In addition, the FBI began utilizing roughly 6,000 electronic billboards across 46 states to spread images of the victims and the alleged culprit.
Over the next several weeks, police would receive literally thousands of tips. It is estimated that, by June of 2017 - roughly four months later - they had received roughly 18,000 tips from the public. Because of this influx of information, authorities had to recruit the help of the FBI and Homeland Security, who helped set up a specialized communications dish to handle the overwhelming number of calls being received. Many of these tips were then forwarded to FBI call centers, who helped handle the overflow of information.
In addition to all of the positive publicity - which was helping investigators receive new tips and leads pretty much every hour - there was also an influx of false confessions and extraneous theories. In addition to the number of useless leads being called in to officials, it is believed that officials had to deal with a number of individuals confessing to the murders but not knowing any of the intimate details of the crime itself. This would only make their job more difficult in the months to come, as the case began to look tougher to crack with each passing day.
On February 22nd, 2017 - roughly one week after the murder of the two girls and the discovery of their bodies - police officials from throughout the region held a joint press conference, which was broadcast through the region and - later - the nation.
At times, these police officials - lifelong public servants, who dedicated their lives to law enforcement - struggled to speak through clearly rough emotions.
Police would refuse to release any specific details about the case - such as how the two girls had been killed, how they were discovered, etc. They would also refuse to say whether or not they were looking for a murder weapon or anything like that. More than two years later, those details remain heavily-guarded by police.
On February 16th, 2017 - just two days after the girls' bodies were discovered in the woods - police conducted a search warrant at a home along West Bicycle Bridge Road, roughly 5 miles away from the crime scene on the other side of Delphi. Police would spend roughly two hours inside the home, collecting evidence and taking photos, but ultimately no arrests would be made.
Ronald Logan - a Delphi resident whose property the girls' bodies had been found on - was also investigated by police. Ron was an older man, who had had some run-ins with the law in the past, but mostly seemed to have an issue with alcohol... not any violent crime.
At the time of the murder, Logan had owned that property for more than 50 years, and he was questioned by police several times over the next several weeks. It was discovered that Ron - who had a suspended license - had driven a load of garbage to a nearby dump on the day that the girls' were murdered. To some investigators, this was a bizarre coincidence, and the next month, a search was conducted of Logan's property. However, police considered this search a "normal course of the investigation," and Logan was subsequently cleared of any potential involvement. It seems like police never really considered him a viable suspect.
Later, Logan would speak to journalists about the property he owned, which was hard to traverse. He described it as a heavily-wooded area often full of hunters and fishermen, who often had difficulty walking anywhere of great distance with equipment, due to the inclines and jagged drop-offs. Describing the distance between his property and the bridge the girls had likely been accosted by their killer, Logan stated:
"For them to get from there to all the way here with that rough territory they had to walk, you couldn't carry them in a million years or drag them or drop them off. They had to walk."
Police continued searching for details in the time-frame that this crime happened. In particular, they were looking for anyone that had been at or around the Monon High Bridge between 2:30 and 5:30 PM on February 13th, 2017. Anyone that had been in the vicinity was a suspect to police, and them coming forward to provide information could only help clear up their potential involvement - and help decipher whether or not they had potentially encountered either the girls or their killer.
A rumored encounter was reported by an eyewitness the day after the murders, in an incident that I can only describe as bizarre. I will preempt this encounter by repeatedly stating that this is a rumor. But - allegedly - there was a woman near the region of the crime, who encountered a young man in a truck near one of the Monon High Bridge trail-heads. She claims that the young man's vehicle was broken down, and he refused to make eye contact with her. When she approached, offering help, the young man told her that he was waiting for his dad to pick him up. The witness left, but reportedly told her husband about the strange encounter later that evening. The following day - after she learned about the two murdered girls not too far away from where she had been - she reported the incident to police.
Again, that entire story is heavily-rumored to have been reported by a Delphi local, so take it with a grain of salt. But I think it's a rumor that is intriguing enough to mention.
Another lightning rod for speculation is a meat processing plant, which is roughly 2.5 miles away from the Monon High Bridge. The plant employs hundreds - if not thousands - of young men that may or may not live in Delphi, but end up becoming familiar with the region for work. Several of the individuals work her because - while the job is emotionally draining and, at times, traumatic - it's still a job. Some of those that are employed at the plant don't exactly have a lot of options, and some are otherwise unemployable.
Roughly one week after the murders - on February 22nd - a bomb threat was called into the meat-processing plant. This resulted in a police raid of the facility, and police were photographed taking away several pieces of evidence: including a pair of boots, which many think may have had some correlation to the ongoing murder investigation.
Police called the bomb threat and the subsequent raid "totally unrelated to the homicide investigation," but that did not stop those in the region - and those following the case - from speculating endlessly.
In the wake of this terrible crime, the region of Delphi began to show a tremendous amount of support for the family of the two girls. Not only did the town come together to raise awareness for this case, but began participating in fundraising efforts for the expenses the families would have to bears - memorial services, funerals, etc. - as well as the reward fund.
Local businesses began donating proceeds and organizing events, including a February motorcycle benefit that brought more than 3,000 people to Delphi.
The reward fund - which was originally announced as $41,000 in February - soon blossomed to more than $200,000. This was due in part to major contributions from Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay and retired-Colts-punter-turned-entertainer Pat McAfee, as well as numerous fundraising and crowdfunding efforts from the region.
On February 18th, 2017 - the first Saturday after the murder of Libby and Abby - a public memorial service was held at the girls' school, which was attended by thousands of people that all gathered to say goodbye to the two girls. Earlier in the day, a private ceremony had been attended by the girls' friends and family.
The loved ones of Abigail Williams and Liberty German would struggle to move on after this tragic loss. Each of them played such a vital role in their families, and in such a small town, their faces were plastered almost everywhere. It was hard to go anywhere without their loved ones being constantly reminded of their loss in some way.
Abby's grandmother, Diane Erskin, later told Inside Edition:
"It's like I had open-heart surgery, but they never used any anesthetic and they say, 'I'm sorry, you're just gonna have to live this way, with part of your heart missing the rest of your life.'"
Most of the two girls' families would remain quiet for a prolonged period of time, letting the police handle the case both publicly and behind-the-scenes. However, later in 2017, several family members would appear on an episode of Dr. Phil, where they tried to rekindle some public interest in the investigation.
Mike Patty, Liberty's grandfather, said on this broadcast:
"Somebody knows something. Nobody lives in total isolation in today's world, and I'm asking that person: please help us out."
Anna Williams, Abigail's mother - who had lost her only child in this senseless act of violence - seemed to express a sentiment of trepidation over the still-unsolved nature of the case.
"My fear is that we could be here 10 years from now, and we won't know what happened or why."
The investigation to find the killer of Liberty German and Abigail Williams quickly became a joint-venture between Indiana State Police and the Carroll County Sheriff's Department, who also had help from the Delphi Police Department. Soon, though, these officials began reaching out to other state and federal agencies, quickly obtaining the help of the FBI. Within a year, they had even ensnared the help of both Tennessee and Georgia state agencies, expanding the scope of their search and revitalizing certain aspects.
When the FBI became involved - in the earliest days of the investigation - they brought with them behavioral analysts who helped create a rough outline of a suspect. According to the FBI, this killer was someone who had likely changed behaviors on or around February 13th, 2017. Some of these behaviors may have included - but weren't limited to:
- A changed sleep pattern
- The possible abuse of drugs or alcohol
- Increased anxiousness or irritability
- Following the case through the media (with a sense that was "not normal")
- And, finally, conspicuously having conversations about where they were when the crime unfolded on February 13th (perhaps an attempt to cement an alibi with those they knew)
Greg Massa, the FBI's Assistant Special Agent in Charge, acted as the FBI's spokesperson early on in the investigation. At the February 22nd press conference, he spoke about the behaviors and actions the killer might have expressed in the days after the crime (starts around 14:35).
One of the earliest theories in this case is the belief that the murders of Abby and Libby might be related to a similar crime that unfolded roughly five years earlier.
On July 13th, 2012, a pair of cousins went missing in Evansdale, Iowa - about 400 miles northwest of Delphi, Indiana. The cousins were 10-year old Lyric Cook-Morrissey and 8-year old Elizabeth Collins, who went missing while riding their bikes in downtown Evansdale. Their bikes were eventually found at a park nearby, but they were not. A massive search ensued, and - eventually - the bodies of the two girls were found in a heavily-wooded area roughly 20 miles away from where they disappeared.
By the time their bodies were discovered, the case had long grown cold. I explored this story on this podcast just a few weeks ago, and went into detail about the various suspects that were investigated by police and theorized about in the media; none of whom seem to remain suspects or person-of-interest.
From the earliest days of the Delphi investigation, it has been tentatively linked to the Evansdale case - as the stories seem to parallel one another. Both cases feature two young girls who were abducted at the same time, in broad daylight, and had their bodies dumped in rural areas nearby. Both cases unfolded in the Midwest, and the bodies were disposed of in heavily-wooded areas frequented by hunters. In the case of Lyric Cook and Elizabeth Collins, their bodies were actually discovered by hunters.
And in both cases, the details of the murder - such as the cause-of-death, the state of the remains, etc. - would be kept private. The police handling the separate cases have kept many details guarded, and refuse to budge on specifics.
In addition, there are a number of other similarities. Both crimes took place on the 13th of the month. Both disappearances happened in the early afternoon. In both cases, family members were seemingly ruled out as suspects, meaning that a strange individual - who was likely previously unknown to the victims - had abducted and killed the girls. That in itself is a detail that is very rare, according to both the FBI and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children - NCMEC - who state that most abductions happen via family member or family friend.
The FBI has also stated that these kind of crimes - double-abductions in the middle of the day - are incredibly rare. In fact, between 1974 and 2012, the FBI had recorded only 15 of these incidents, meaning that the likelihood of two similar abduction-murders taking place in the same geographic region - a handful of years apart - has to be very small. Especially if the two cases are unrelated, because what are the odds that two similar killers happen to live less than 500 miles from one another?
Investigators in charge of these two cases have publicly stated that they've compared notes between the two cases, but - due to details that have yet to be publicly released - they do not believe the two cases are related. We can only guess at what this may mean - different causes of death, potential DNA evidence, etc. - but these vague statements by police seem to indicate that there is no connection.
In September of 2017 - more than half a year after the murders of Abby and Libby - a man was arrested in Woodland Park, Colorado. The man had been threatening people with a hatchet on a hiking trail, at around the same time that a bicyclist had been shot dead on the same trail.
Following his arrest, it was learned that this man - 31-year old Daniel J. Nations - was a registered sex offender from Indiana that had been driving around with expired Indiana license plates. He happened to be homeless, having moved away from Greenwood, Indiana in May of 2017 - just months after the Delphi murders.
Of course, these circumstance seemed odd to police, who immediately began to suspect that this man's story might be worth pursuing. They began to explore the man as a possible person-of-interest in the ongoing Delphi investigation, and soon, El Paso County Sheriff's officials - who had apprehended the man in their Colorado jurisdiction - declared that there were "many similarities" between Nations and the still-unidentified killer from Indiana.
Nations had been forced to register as a sex offender because of several criminal acts, including a 2016 incident where he had been discovered masturbating in a women's restroom while peeping on women in other stalls. This had followed a similar incident from 2007, which had seemingly kicked off his criminal career. He had had several run-ins with law enforcement over the years - including drug offenses - and also had a history of domestic violence.
In 2016, Nations had been convicted of domestic violence in Morgan County, Indiana. His wife, Katelyn Nations, later admitted to reporters that her husband had an issue with anger, which really began to manifest itself in January of 2017 - one month before the Delphi murders. That was when he had lost his only remaining family member, his brother, to violent crime.
When asked about whether or not he was capable of killing someone, Katelyn responded:
"I don't really know. But he scares the heck out of me."
Katelyn also admitted that Daniel looked remarkably like the composite image released by police in June of 2017, but hesitated on whether or not she thought he was responsible. She told reporters with the publication The Gazette that Daniel lived more than an hour away from the crime scene, and did not have a vehicle of his own to get there. Additionally, while he may have looked like the composite image released by police, he didn't really look like the image of the figure captured on Libby's cell phone. She also said that he did not own the clothing owned by the supposed killer.
Speaking to reporters from the Gazette, she stated:
"I can't tell if that is him or not. But the one thing I'm not going to buckle on, he did not have that jacket."
Following his arrest for threatening hikers with a machete in Colorado, the now-32 year old Daniel Nations was sentenced to three years' probation. However, he would remain in police custody, due to an outstanding warrant from Johnson County, Indiana. On January 24th, 2018, he was transferred to Indiana custody for failing to register as a sex offender.
A few weeks later - in February of 2018 - investigators handling the Delphi investigation would state that Daniel Nations was no longer considered an active person-of-interest in their ongoing investigation. They would not state why, exactly, but several possibilities have been floated online for those following the case - most of which seem to rule out Nations as a suspect.
It has been reported that Daniel Nations has a distinct walk - described as a limp - and he seems to be much smaller than the supposed killer (to the tune of being 15 to 25 pounds lighter). He also has a Southern drawl, which is very unlike the audio recording released to the public. Additionally, he may have also had an alibi for the day of the murders, as well as having a lack of reliable transportation to-and-from the crime scene - which would make placing him at the location a near-impossibility.
As of this moment, it is not believed that Nations is an active suspect in the case - despite so many of the early details seeming to match up. It has been stated that Nations has given his DNA to investigators in the Delphi case, and - when speaking to reporters with the Gazette - Daniel Nations later stated:
"I feel like a victim in this situation. I just want people to know the truth, that I am not a monster."
John Miller was a 59-year old that lived in Fort Wayne, Indiana - roughly 100 miles southwest of Delphi. Described as an angry and secluded old man by his neighbors, Miller was known mostly for his gruff demeanor.
In July of 2018 - more than a year after the Delphi murders - Miller was arrested in a 30-year-old cold case. The case itself was the 1988 murder of April Tinsley, which played out back in 1988 - more than three decades prior. Tinsley, an 8-year-old, had gone missing while out playing with her friends. Days later, her body was discovered - strangled and sexually assaulted - and the killer had left behind several clues taunting the police, as well as the loved ones of 8-year old April.
The case had gone cold many years prior, but advancements in DNA technology allowed investigators to narrow down the suspect pool. This eventually led them straight to 59-year-old John Miller, who still lived in the region all these years later.
Following his arrest, Miller confessed to the crime to investigators, and later pleaded guilty. He was sentenced to 80 years in prison, where he is undoubtedly going to rot until his death.
In the months since his arrest and guilty plea, Miller has become a popular suspect for web-sleuths and followers of the Delphi case, as he lived less than two hours away from the crime scene, and seems to have had the motivation to commit similarly heinous crimes. In fact, in a taunt to police back in 1988, he had written (in crayon) that he would kill again.
Police have been intentionally vague about this potential link, with Indiana State Police Sergeant Kim Riley stating, in response to a question about Miller:
"We have 1,000 names out there, and we're still looking at all of them."
On November 19th, 2018 - in St. Louis Missouri - a man entered a Catholic Supply store. There, he proceeded to sexually assault two women, and when a third refused to comply with his demands, she was shot and killed.
The description of the culprit was incredibly similar to the man recorded on 14-year old Libby German's phone more than a year-and-a-half prior in Delphi, Indiana - roughly 300 miles away from this Catholic Supply store. He was described as being middle-aged, standing 5'7" to 5'9" tall, and he was wearing a paper-boy hat as well as a navy blue Carhartt-styled jacket. The similarities - down to the clothing - were striking.
Within days, police had identified a suspect in the Catholic Supply shooting: a 53-year old named Thomas Bruce. Bruce was a U.S. Navy veteran, an avid advocate for gun rights, and had been a pastor between 2003 and 2007. Since then, he seemed to have fallen on hard times, having filed for bankruptcy in January of 2017 - along with his wife. He was unemployed at the time of the sexual assault and shooting, and looked vaguely like the suspect from the unsolved Delphi murders.
Roughly one week after the shooting in the Catholic Supply store, Bruce was arraigned on first-degree murder charges, as well as additional charges of sodomy, armed criminal action, burglary, and tampering with evidence. On December 4th, 2018, he was officially charged with 17 felony counts, and was even later implicated in another crime in a neighboring county.
Bruce also stands accused of invading the home of a 77-year old woman in Jefferson County, Missouri in September of 2018, and then assaulting, sexually assaulting, and robbing her. He has since been charged in that crime, as well.
Because of the ongoing legal proceedings, Thomas Bruce has not been convicted on any of these crimes as of yet. He has entered a plea of not guilty for the charges leveled against him, and I want you all to keep that in-mind: as of this episode's recording, Bruce is still innocent of all of these crimes. His guilt has not been proven, and he remains in-custody awaiting a trial.
However, if Bruce is found guilty of these crimes, he could face the death penalty. Based on the charges filed against him - and the seemingly-overwhelming physical evidence connected him to this crime - it is easy to make assumptions about Bruce. Many online have tried to connect him to the Delphi murders, but I think such an association is impossible to make; at least, so far. I will eagerly be keeping up on Bruce's trial dates, and - should anything come to light in the future - I will undoubtedly keep you all informed.
As of this moment, though, Bruce has not been convicted of anything - and police have yet to speak publicly about any possible connections between him and the Delphi crimes.
On January 8th, 2019, a 46-year old named Charles Eldridge was arrested in Union City, Indiana - about two hours southeast of Delphi.
Eldridge, who bears a striking resemblance to the original sketch released by investigators in the Delphi murders, was held without bond. He had allegedly arranged to meet up with a teenage girl, who - unbeknownst to him - was a police officer. Following his arrest, Eldridge then apparently admitted to engaging in sex acts with a different child under the age of 13 on multiple occasions.
Once in-custody, the mugshot of Charles Eldridge went viral, and people all over the world began to compare it to the composite image released by Indiana State Police in June 2017. The resemblance was uncanny; so much so that his arrest really set off alarm bells for those that had been closely following the Delphi case.
After his arrest in Union City, Randolph County officials shared Eldridge's information with the FBI, informing them that a link to Delphi might be possible. However, after this disclosure, they cautioned the public to refrain from making any more inflammatory public guesses:
"... outside of the person resembling the sketch, there is currently zero evidence that ties him to this case and he is not a suspect in the case."
"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."
Despite exhibiting some odd behaviors online - and looking like a composite image - there is currently nothing connecting Charles Eldridge to the murders of Abigail Williams or Liberty German. He is still awaiting trial for his child molestation charges, and there has been no further information released about him in a couple of months.
Trying to deter people from making further accusations - and simply accusing people of being a child-killer based on a hunch - Captain Dave Bursten of the Indiana State Police told the public:
"I can promise you this: when an arrest is made of a suspect identified... as the alleged perpetrator of the Delphi murders, rest assured, we will let everyone know."
On April 22nd, 2019 - potentially just days ago, depending on when you listen to this episode - the investigators handling the Delphi double-murder announced that they were changing course. A few days before, they announced that they would be moving the case in a "new direction," and were expected to reveal significant news at a press conference.
The family members of Abby and Libby - who were unaware of the information that would be shared - met with police just a short time before the press conference on Monday, April 22nd.
The press conference was put together by Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter, who had been publicly involved with the case for more than two years now. At the Canal Center in Delphi, Indiana, Carter spoke to an assembly of loved ones, reporters, and even members of the public that were allowed to attend. Some believe this might have been an invitation for the killer himself to attend, but... I'll let you be the judge on that.
As you just heard, this press conference seemed to upend or update most of the information previously-released by investigators. The Indiana State Police had completely overhauled their suspect information, starting with an updated composite sketch - which is remarkably different from the original composite released in June of 2017.
This sketch features an individual with a narrow nose, thin lips, no facial hair, thick curly-looking hair, and a stronger, more pronounced jaw (which may or may not suggest an under-bite). The individual in this sketch is also noticeably younger than the original.
Indiana State Police claim that this sketch "is representative of the face of the person captured in the video on Liberty German's cell phone as he was walking on the high bridge." Unfortunately, this newly-released sketch is also much more vague - looking like potentially thousands of young men in the region.
The artist of this sketch - ISP Master Trooper Taylor Bryant, stated that this sketch was based on a description given to him by an eyewitness; no input was given from other authorities, and it wasn't based on any extraneous information (as was the case in the original sketch). Additionally, this sketch was made just days after the girls' bodies were found - back on February 17th, 2017 - but was just now being released.
The original composite sketch, according to Indiana State Police Sergeant Kim Riley, is "not presently a person of interest in this investigation." Rather, it seems to have been a POI that police were looking for, but had since been identified and cleared of any wrongdoing.
With the release of this new sketch, police were updating the supposed age of the killer. They no longer believed that he was undoubtedly middle-aged, but rather - was somewhere between 18 and 40 years old. This is quite the vague window, but investigators believe that the killer might look much younger than he actually is. Perhaps he just has a youthful appearance.
For the first time, police publicly stated that the killer was likely familiar with Delphi itself, meaning that they no longer believed this was an outsider. Rather, this was probably someone that lived or worked in Delphi, or regularly visited for some other reason.
Police would also reveal a fragment of video which shows this unknown individual walking on the High Bridge. He has a weird gait to his step, but that could be chalked up to the bridge itself - which features pretty big gaps between the ties, and can be hard to walk. Nonetheless, this image showed the killer in-motion for the first time, which was a revelation to many.
Additionally, police released a slightly-longer audio clip of the killer speaking, which I will play for you now. You'll hear the original clip - of the man telling the girls "down the hill" - which is preceded by him saying the word "guys." Give it a listen.
In addition to the new composite image and updated media files, investigators also announced that they were seeking information about a car seen on a rural road near Delphi on the day of the murders. The car had apparently been parked on County Road 300 North, near the entrance to the bridge trail, close to the Hoosier Heartland Highway. It was there at some point between 12:00 and 5:00 PM on Monday, February 13th, 2017, and had been parked outside the old CPS/DCS/Welfare building, which - at the time - was abandoned. That building has since been demolished, and is no longer standing.
Police did not reveal any details about this vehicle - such as its make, model, or color - only that they were looking to speak to its owner. Police stated that they knew the specific details of the car, but wanted to filter out solid leads from people that actually might know the car's true owner.
To many, this lead about the vehicle hearkened back to the local rumors about a woman encountering a young man in a truck near the crime scene. Many think that this might explain the shift in direction for the investigation, and give us a clue of what's to come.
In a written statement directed at this unknown killer, which was released later in the day, ISP Superintendent Doug Carter wrote:
"We have a witness. You made mistakes. We are coming for you and there's no place for a heartless coward like you to hide that gets his thrill from killing little girls."
The investigation into the murders of Abigail Williams and Liberty German is ongoing. The case is continuously being investigated by the FBI, the Indiana State Police, Carroll County Sheriff's officials, and many more.
In 2018, investigators reached out to officials with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) and other FBI field offices to look over the case file and notes with a fresh set of eyes. Many believe that this might have eventually led to the recent overhaul, and now - with more than one state agency looking over the case, with cooperation from federal investigators - many believe that the killer's capture is imminent.
The loved ones of Abby and Libby continue to speak to the press and raise awareness for the investigation, having started an initiative in 2017 to install orange light bulbs all throughout Indiana. This not only honors the slain girls, but reminds the public that their killer remains at-large... and until he is captured, none can rest easy. Not with him still out there.
In February of this year, the two-year anniversary of the girls' death came and went, and with it, came a renewed sense of optimism that the killer - of whom so many details are public knowledge - will be brought to justice. They hope that the continued public interest will lead to more tips being received by law enforcement, and that hopefully one will be the tip that helps nail this bastard.
Speaking to the Lafayette Journal & Courier, Libby's grandfather Mike Patty stated:
"We've been saying it all along: Someone knows something. Someone's going to talk. Someone's going to think, 'Maybe this one thing I saw might mean something.' And maybe that's the one thing that gets this guy."
As far as the active state of the investigation goes... you already know everything that I know. Police have rightfully withheld most of their evidence, and have even refused to state whether or not they have the culprit's DNA. It is widely believed that they do, but that it might be a partial-sample: which would be enough to eliminate suspects, but perhaps not enough to find him through DNA databases. They have accepted DNA from prior suspects and other persons-of-interest, and seem to be ruling out individuals through forensic testing.
Furthermore, the most recent press conference seemed pretty brazen to many, with ISP Superintendent Doug Carter openly calling the culprit a "coward" and making vague statements about his religious beliefs. Some believe this might have either been a Hail Mary... or a play at the killer's moral core, either goading him to expose himself or confess.
Several criminologists have weighed in over the past couple of weeks, and they believe that investigators are narrowing in on the killer. If so, the clock is ticking on this individual's freedom.
The reward fund, which continues to stand today, is at $225,000. That is for any information that may lead to an arrest, so - if you may know something - don't be afraid to reach out. You can help solve a crime and make yourself rich in the process. It's a win/win.
If you do have any information, you are encouraged to reach out. You can call the tip line by dialing (844) 459-5786 and you can anonymously email any tips to Abbyandlibbytip@cacoshrf.com.
Until further notice, the stories of Liberty German and Abigail Williams remain unresolved.
Written, hosted, and produced by Micheal Whelan
Producers: Ben Krokum, Evan White, Maggyjames, Matthew Brock, Lauren Harris, Quil Carter, Roberta Janson, Damion Moore, Amy Hampton Miller, Astrid Kneier, Timothy Stratton, Peggy Belarde, Laura Hannan, Scott Meesey, Steven Wilson, Sara Willemsen, and Katherine Vatalaro
Published on May 5th, 2019
how the night came - "III: H3PO4"
Graham Bole - "Theme For Rosa"
ROZKOL - "So sorry little girl"
Rest You Sleeping Giant - "Untitled"
Vitus Von Degen - "The Diesel People"
Sergey Cheremisinov - "Sleepwalker III"
Rest You Sleeping Giant - "Disconnect"
ROZKOL - "Spider's Web"
Forlon - "Roembden Crater"
Other music created and composed by Ailsa Traves