'Somebody Has Named The Right Person' In Investigation Of Delphi Snapchat Murder Girls
DELPHI, IN – It was Valentine's Day, 2017, when the corpses of two young teen girls, Liberty "Libby" German and Abigail "Abby" Williams, were found under a train bridge.
One reason this particular homicide case came to national attention is the haunting cell phone and social-media clues the girls left behind. Just after 2 P.M. on February 13, Libby posted a photo to Snapchat of Abby walking on the bridge. In the distance, if you look close, you can see a man approaching.
A closer photo of a man walking, perhaps the same man, was also found on Libby's phone and released, in hopes of a lead in the case. A composite of photos of this man and of other photos of the bridge area have been turned into a composite video and hosted on AbbyAndLibby.org, giving the impression of the suspect walking on the bridge.
But it wasn't just photographic evidence the girls left behind. Investigators also discovered an audio recording on Libby's phone, of a man with a deep voice, and they've released a section of it in which he is saying, "Down the hill."
The fact that Libby had the presence of mind to do what she could to implicate the man who at that point, must have been scaring and threatening the girls, is one reason this case has captured the public's attention. But despite Libby's heroic efforts to preserve evidence that could implicate her and Abigail's killer, the case remains unsolved.
In May 2018, Anna Williams, Abby's mother; and Becky and Michael Patty, Libby's grandparents; as well as Sergeant Jerry Coleman of the Indiana State Police appeared at CrimeCon on a panel moderated by Ashleigh Banfield.
While most of the appearance was devoted to familarizing any attendants with the case and appealing for any knowledge anyone may have of the case, there were also some exchanges that stand out.
Banfield brought up the Golden State Killer case, and how DNA was integral in the arrest of suspect Joseph DeAngelo. She asked, " In light of the Golden State Killer, could DNA and genealogy sites be an area that could be mined?"
Sergeant Coleman responded, "We will not deny or confirm whether or not we have DNA. But I think the public realizes that with a crime like this, it’s rare to not have DNA. We will reach out to the genealogy websites. Any new technology that comes available, we will use it."
The families also spoke of the difficulty faced in the early states of an investigation, where any of them could have been considered suspects, and the authorities had to investigate them to rule them out.
Banfield asked them, "How do you get beyond that extraordinary and awkward first dynamic to work together?"
Becky Patty revealed that "We went to them first and said, 'check us out.' We offered to do anything they wanted, day one. They were very polite and respectful. If it was someone in my family, and I thought I knew who it was, I would have turned them in.... Now let’s get down to business and find this guy."
Michael Patty has had to deal with being considered a suspect moreso than the other family members. Regarding the sketch of the suspect, Patty said, "I have features that resemble that. Most Midwestern guys with builds like me can look like that. Guys — it’s not me.... They’ve checked me out; I was at work. People still say it’s me. But I won’t let that bother me."
Sergeant Coleman himself hasn't been above suspicion, either. "I feel Mike’s pain — I got two tips on me; I have a raspy voice. The tips didn’t bother me, but what hurt me was they said I was heavy-set and have a chubby face!"
To that Patty responded, "That’s better than what they said about me; they said I was too fat to be the guy!"
At this point, all of the family members and investigative officers have been effectively ruled out as suspects.
Recently there was an arrest of a suspect in a child-sex-sting case. Charles Eldridge was taken into custody after purusing a 13-year-old girl online. His physical similarity to the Delphi suspect was noted, but authorities have been careful to state that as of now, no connection has been made between him and the Delphi case.
The families of Libby and Abby and the police are still working to find the girls' killer. Anna Williams has shared that one of Abby's interests "was forensic science, ironically, so we have to do this for her and for Liberty."
True crime journalist James Renner visited Delphi and spoke to the Pattys, who describe Libby as a fun-loving tomboy with lot of friends. She played in the school band, and was on the volleyball team with her friend Abby.
Libby's sister Kelsi told Renner, as a way to keep going and honor her sister, "I want to be the person I saw Libby as, so, outgoing and fun and talking to everybody."
Renner also spoke with Anna Williams, Abby's mother. She shared that in addition to playing volleyball with Libby and her interest in studying forensics, she also played the saxophone in the school band.
She reveals how difficult it is to be surrounded by so many memories, and also the realization of how time is passing — the kids in Abby and Libby's grade are learning to drive now.
One of the hardest things for Williams to deal with, in the aftermath of their tragedy, is the dark tourism aspect that's developed around the Monon High Bridge.
"I cringe and I get angry at the folks that traipse out there like it's an amusement park to them. It's like a hot spot everybody wants to see. It's like — there's a memorial there. Two little girls died here, horrifically — horrifically.... It's upsetting. Why do people need to go out and see it?"
Two years after the fact, even as the investigation remains open and unsolved, Williams states, "There's no moving on — there's moving forward."
As a way to attempt to move forward and stay positive, the families of Abby and Libby will hold a food drive at Delphi United Methodist Church on February 13, the anniversary of the day the girls went missing in 2017.
Nonperishable human and pet food can be donated at the church, 1796 U.S. 421, between 5 and 7 P.M. that day.
For those who can't make it to Delphi, the families say they're encouraging people to donate in Abby and Libby's names to a food pantry in their hometowns.
Funds can also be donated to the Delphi Reward Fund, created by the Indiana State Police Alliance "for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for the homicides of Liberty German and Abigail Williams."
The amount of the reward could be as much as $216,165, according to their website. Those who would like to donate should make their checks payable to the Indiana State Police Alliance Foundation and include the "Delphi Reward" on the memo line. Checks should be mailed to the following address:
Indiana State Police Alliance
1415 Shelby St.
Indianapolis, IN 46203