The Delphi Snapchat Murders: One Year Later, Still Unsolved, Still Haunting
DELPHI, IN — On February 14, 2017, best friends Liberty “Libby” German, 14, and Abigail Williams, 13, were found dead under a train bridge in Delphi, Indiana.
The two eighth graders had set off on a hike from Delphi Community Middle School on February 13, 2017. Libby’s older sister Kelso dropped them off at the start of the trail, which they both knew well, at about 1:30 P.M.
Soon, like many teens, they were posting pictures to social media. Libby uploaded a picture of Abby walking on the Monon High Bridge to her Snapchat at 2:09 P.M. The haunting image, which showed a man walking toward them, would be widely circulated around the globe after the girls disappeared.
Libby’s grandfather called her cell phone just after 3 P.M., but was unable to reach her.
At 5:30 P.M., the girls were reported missing, and within the hour the local police and hundreds of volunteers were scouring the area in groups. The girls’ bodies were found the next day on the banks of Deer Creek — and police have never released details of how they were killed.
The next day, February 15, police released a blurry photo taken from Libby’s mobile phone that showed a man walking along the tracks. A week later, the FBI released a short audio clip of a man saying “down the hill.” According to the FBI, the audio came from a video recording on Libby’s phone of a man who was following them.
Based on a witness who came forward, who had been in the Monon High Bridge Trail area that day, authorities released a sketch of the man.
Police have indicated Libby’s phone contains more evidence relating to the suspect, but it will not be released so as not to “compromise any future trial.”
The crime shocked the close-knit community and its 300 residents.
In September 2017, a sex offender named Daniel Nations was arrested in Colorado after he allegedly threatened several people with a hatchet near a trail where a man was murdered. Nations had also lived in Indiana at some point.
The Indiana State Police Department said it was investigating to see if Nations could be a suspect in the Delphi investigation, but also revealed at the time that the department had “over 1,000 photographs of people who look like the guy in the sketch.”
Nations was transferred to Indiana custody on an unrelated charge on January 24, 2018. In February, police announced that Nations was no longer considered an active person of interest in the Delphi murders.
Some family members and locals turned to armchair sleuthing, which prompted police to appeal to them to stop posting photos on social media of people who resembled the alleged suspect.
“As we continue the investigation into the deaths of Abby and Libby, please refrain from posting pictures on social media sites of innocent people set side-by-side with the sketch and picture of the alleged suspect,” the Indiana State Police posted on Twitter. “By doing so, you take away from the investigation by slandering and possibly hurting those people and their families”.
Police set up a special force to investigate the killings, and to date have received more than 20,000 tips. So far, no one has been arrested or charged in connection with the double homicide.
But multiple agencies continue to work the case, and Sheriff Leazenby has emphasized that it’s “not a cold case.”
Libby’s mother, Carrie, shares that she keeps an orange bulb in her house’s lamp post, as she’d bought the bulb thinking that Libby would like it. She now says that she will keep that orange light shining until her daughter’s killer is found. Supporters across the country have also put orange bulbs outside their houses. “I want to shut it off so bad. I just want to turn it off,” said Carrie. “Find the killer and then everybody turn their lights off.”
Carrie appeals to the public for help, in obtaining justice for her daughter and for Abigail, and to make sure the perpetrator doesn’t hurt anyone else.
“I worry about this happening to somebody else. I worry about him getting someone else’s child and destroying another family. Please don’t let that happen. If you think you know something, turn it in. Even if it’s nothing, it’ll still be checked out. Maybe it will stop another mother from going through what I’ve been through.”
People with information can call the Delphi Homicide Investigation Tip Line — (844) 459-5786 — or send an email to the Sheriff’s Office at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is a reward of up to $216,165 for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for the homicides of Liberty German and Abigail Williams.