It’s been over a year since 13-year-old Abigail (Abby) Williams and 14-year-old Liberty (Libby) German were murdered while enjoying an unseasonably warm day in their small hometown of Delphi, Indiana. After school on February 13, 2017, the two friends were dropped off to hike the Delphi Historic Trails in Carroll County, Indiana.
Twenty-four hours later, their bodies were discovered not far from the Monon High Bridge, where Libby’s had uploaded the last picture taken of her friend to Snapchat. Despite trail cam footage, eyewitness descriptions, and the relentless efforts of dozens of investigators from multiple jurisdictions, their killer remains at large.
It’s a story that’s all too familiar to true crime enthusiasts: a small, closely-knit town shaken to its core; innocent lives ripped away too soon; a dedicated but thin-spread local police force chasing thousands of leads. With no luck.
In the past year, investigators have released a trail cam photo and composite sketch of the primary suspect, as well as a related voice recording (which Libby heroically captured on her cell phone), and have investigated various possible suspects with no arrests. We also know that multiple DNA samples have been recovered from the scene. With no suspect yet in custody despite the seemingly large volume of evidence, it’s tempting to say the case has gone cold.
But Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter disagrees.
“I’ve said all along, as long as I’m in this role and breathing, we’re not leaving the City of Delphi in Carroll County, Indiana, we’re just not,” Carter told The Indy Channel in a recent interview.
As we see in many cases, it’s also easy to assume that the investigators are small-town, shoe-leather police officers, inexperienced and ill-equipped to deal with the magnitude of such a heinous crime. These things don’t happen here, they always say.
But this investigation is a joint effort between Delphi Police, Carroll County Sheriff’s Department, Indiana State Police, and the FBI, along with thousands of websleuths, volunteers, and experts. And, despite the compelling evidence that has been released, if you ask me, it’s the information we don’t know that’s a testament to the top-notch police work that’s going on behind the scenes.
We don’t know how the girls were killed or what kind of weapon, if any, was used. We don’t know if the girls were sexually assaulted. We don’t know the killer’s motive or whether the attack was premeditated. We do, however, know the police have additional audio evidence that they have not released.
When law enforcement officers withhold important information such as this, there’s a reason, and that reason is often to weed out the attention-seekers -- the crazies who come forward to “confess” in a desperate attempt to garner a few minutes of infamy. Often, it’s also because those details are crucial to creating an accurate profile of the killer to zero in on persons of interest.
Although investigators are playing this, by necessity, close to the chest, their clear dedication to and fervor for finding Abby and Libby’s killer gives me confidence that the status of the investigation has not changed.
But something else hasn’t changed, either: the sheer grief, horror, and pain of Abby and Libby’s families. And yet, Abby’s grandparents, Diane and Eric, recently left a tear-jerking note at police headquarters expressing their gratitude and support for the investigators and their efforts.
Libby’s grandparents, Mike and Becky Patty, along with Abby’s mother Anna Williams, will join HLN host Ashleigh Banfield for an intensive session at CrimeCon 2018. It’s sure to be an emotional hour covering what we know so far and status of the case, but will keep Abby and Libby front-of-mind, never losing focus on their positive spirits and heroic efforts in their final moments.*
Call the case “challenging.” Call it “emotional.” Call it “quiet.”
Just don’t call it cold.
*As this is an active investigation, panel and participants are subject to change or cancellation based on case developments or breaking news.