Murders of Abigail Williams and Liberty German

On February 14, 2017, the bodies of Abigail Williams (June 23, 2003 – February 13, 2017) and Liberty German (December 27, 2002 – February 13, 2017) were discovered near the Monon High Bridge Trail, part of the Delphi Historic Trails in Delphi, Indiana, U.S., after the girls had disappeared from that trail the previous day. The murders have received extensive media coverage, in part due to video and audio recordings released by law enforcement that came from German's smartphone, which recorded an individual believed to be the killer.[2][3][4]

Murders of Abigail Williams and Liberty German
Liberty German (left) and Abigail Williams (right)
DateFebruary 13, 2017
Time2:07 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. (EST)
LocationNear Monon High Bridge,
Deer Creek Township, Carroll County, Indiana, U.S.
Coordinates40°35′20.7″N 86°38′34.2″W / 40.589083°N 86.642833°W / 40.589083; -86.642833
TypeMurder
Deaths
  • Abigail Joyce "Abby" Williams
  • Liberty Rose Lynn "Libby" German
BurialIOOF Memorial Gardens (Liberty German)[1]
IOOF Riverview Cemetery (Abigail Williams)
CoronerJordan Cree, Carroll County
Arrests1

On October 26, 2022, a suspect was taken into custody,[5] and, on October 31, that suspect was charged with two counts of murder.[6] Time described the arrest as "the first major break in a case that has captivated national attention for nearly six years."[7]

Murders edit

At 1:35 p.m. on February 13, 2017, 13-year-old Abigail Joyce "Abby" Williams and 14-year-old Liberty Rose Lynn "Libby" German were dropped off by German's older sister, Kelsi German, on County Road 300 North, east of the Hoosier Heartland Highway. The girls were hiking on the Monon High Bridge over Deer Creek, among woodland in remote Deer Creek Township. At 2:07 p.m., German posted a photo of Williams walking the bridge; after this, they were not heard from again.[8] They were reported missing at 5:30 p.m. after they had failed to meet German's father at 3:15 p.m. The families initially searched for the girls themselves before calling the police. Authorities who quickly searched the area did not initially suspect foul play in the disappearance. This would change when the bodies of the girls were found around noon the next day, about 0.5 miles (0.80 km) east of the abandoned Monon High Bridge.[9] The bodies were found on the north bank of Deer Creek.

Investigation edit

 
Delphi murder suspect sketch
 
Updated sketch of suspect
 
Still image of suspect released by Indiana State police

Police have not released details of how the girls were murdered.[10] As early as February 15, 2017, Indiana State Police began circulating a still image of an individual reportedly seen on the Monon High Bridge Trail near where the two friends were slain; the grainy photograph appears to capture a Caucasian male, hands in pockets, head down, walking on the rail bridge, towards the girls.[8] A few days later, the person in the photograph was named the prime suspect in the double-homicide.[9]

On February 22, law enforcement released an audio recording during which the voice of the suspect, although muffled, is heard to say, "Down the hill."[11] At this news conference, officials credited the source of the audio and imagery to German's smartphone and further regarded her as a hero for having had the presence of mind and fortitude to secretly record the exchange. Police indicated that additional evidence from the phone had been secured, but would not release further details so as not to "compromise any future trial." By this time, the reward offered in the case was set at $41,000.[9]

On July 17, police distributed a composite sketch of someone sought as a person of prime interest in the murders. The sketch was apparently created from eyewitness accounts of a hiker on the Delphi Historic Trails the day the girls vanished.[9]

On April 22, 2019, Indiana State Police announced a "new direction" in the case and released a new sketch of the suspect, while urging the public to look at the sketch, listen to the audio, watch how the man walks on the bridge and send tips to the tipline email.[12][13][14] Investigators stated they had reason to believe that the suspect might be hiding in plain sight and was almost certainly familiar with the Delphi area, from living there, working there or for other reasons.[15] An additional plea was made for help in identifying the driver of a vehicle left abandoned off the Hoosier Heartland Highway in Delphi, at the former Child Services office, between noon and 5 p.m. on the day of the murders.[16]

On July 23, 2019, a suspect who had been wanted for a kidnapping and rape in Tippecanoe County was named as one of multiple suspects being investigated for the Williams and German murders, according to Carroll County Sheriff Tobe Leazenby. The suspect had died by suicide the previous month.[17] On April 27, 2021, Indiana State Police detectives named another suspect as a new person of interest in the Delphi murders.[18]

Arrest and developments edit

On October 26, 2022, a suspect was taken into custody and appeared in court on October 28.[5] On October 31, 2022, Indiana State Police announced that the suspect had been charged with two counts of murder in the case. He has pleaded not guilty. His trial, originally scheduled to start March 20, 2023, has been postponed until later in the year at the request of the suspect's defense team.[19][20][21] Two public defenders were appointed to represent the suspect.[22][23]

On November 29, 2022, Judge Frances Gull issued an order to unseal the probable cause affidavit that led to the suspect's arrest. According to the redacted document, video footage recovered from German's phone showed one of the victims mentioning "gun" as a man wearing a dark jacket and jeans approached them and ordered them to go "down the hill". Investigators believe the suspect is the man seen in the video.[24] Investigators also found a ".40-caliber unspent round" less than two feet from one victim's body, but between the two victims. It was later determined that the round came from a gun owned by the suspect.[25] A witness said she saw a man walking away from the bridge "wearing a blue colored jacket and blue jeans and was muddy and bloody." Another witness and a tip mentioned that a car was parked "oddly" and appeared to be parked in a way as if to hide its license plate. Investigators said the description of the vehicle matched a vehicle that the suspect owned in 2017.[24]

According to a probable cause affidavit, the suspect was interviewed by the police in 2017, and said he was on the trail that afternoon for around two hours.[25] The document also said that in a subsequent interview in October 2022, the suspect told authorities he had worn "jeans and a black or blue jacket" that day and had gone to the bridge to "watch fish".[24]

On December 2, 2022, Judge Gull issued a gag order until January 2023. The suspect's defense attorneys argued in a motion to move the trial out of Carroll County, based on concerns about juror bias due to what the attorneys described as the "extensive media attention" and the "highly publicized nature of the case" in the local area.[26][27]

In October of 2023, Judge Gull removed the defense attorneys citing gross negligence due to crime scene photos being leaked from their office. The attorneys' removal was appealed to the Indiana Supreme Court in which the justices of the Indiana Supreme Court reinstated the defense attorneys to the case.[28]

Memorials edit

In response to a request from German's mother, homeowners across central Indiana have had orange lights installed on their front porches, both to commemorate the girls as well as to indicate that the murderer remains at large.[29]

In August 2017, the families announced their plans to build a sports complex for Delphi in memory of the girls.[30] A non-profit organization, L & A Park Foundation, was formed to "celebrate and commemorate the lives of Libby German and Abby Williams by creating a place for the appreciation of nature, art, play, and athleticism for generations to come."[31] A site was procured a mile north of Delphi, and in the years following the girls' deaths, continued progress has been made in the development of Abby and Libby Memorial Park.[32] In 2020, the L & A Park Foundation was named a recipient of the NBA All-Star 2021 Legacy Grant.[33]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Family and friends say goodbye to Delphi teens at private funerals". FOX59. February 19, 2017. Archived from the original on November 6, 2022. Retrieved August 15, 2022.
  2. ^ Bloyd, Kyle (June 16, 2017). "Police: Delphi homicides far from cold case; 18K tips received". WISH-TV. Archived from the original on June 16, 2017. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  3. ^ Shapiro, Emily (April 13, 2017). "Indiana teens' mysterious murders still unsolved 2 months later, leaving fear, frustration in Delphi". ABC News. Archived from the original on April 13, 2017. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
  4. ^ Lewbel, Paris; Sanchez, Rafael; Cox, Katie (April 25, 2017). "Delphi: The Investigation". WRTV. Archived from the original on May 25, 2017. Retrieved May 28, 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Arrest made in Delphi murder investigation, sources say". WRTV Indianapolis. October 28, 2022. Archived from the original on November 13, 2022. Retrieved October 28, 2022.
  6. ^ Karpinski, Izzy (October 31, 2022). "Delphi suspect charged with 2 counts of murder; 'Investigation far from complete'". Fox 59. Archived from the original on December 9, 2022. Retrieved January 29, 2023.
  7. ^ Burga, Solcyre (October 31, 2022). "Inside the Years-Long Hunt for Justice in the Delphi Murders". Time. Archived from the original on January 27, 2023. Retrieved January 29, 2023.
  8. ^ a b Cox, Megan (February 13, 2019). "DELPHI TIMELINE: The search for Libby & Abby's killer". WRTV. Archived from the original on January 28, 2023. Retrieved January 28, 2023.
  9. ^ a b c d "Timeline – Disappearance and deaths of Liberty German and Abigail Williams in Delphi". FOX 59. Archived from the original on November 17, 2019. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
  10. ^ Mack, Justin. "2 months later, 5 questions about the Delphi killings". The Indianapolis Star. Archived from the original on November 6, 2022. Retrieved May 13, 2017.
  11. ^ Paul, Joseph (February 22, 2017). "Audio clip released in Delphi double homicide". Journal & Courier. Archived from the original on March 31, 2023. Retrieved January 29, 2023.
  12. ^ "Randolph Co. sexual abuse suspect draws comparisons to Delphi murderer". WTHR. January 10, 2019. Archived from the original on January 30, 2023. Retrieved January 29, 2023.
  13. ^ "Delphi Homicide Investigation Moves in New Direction". Indiana State Police. April 19, 2019. Archived from the original on November 6, 2022. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  14. ^ "New 'Face' of the Delphi Murder Suspect". Indiana State Police. April 22, 2019. Archived from the original on November 6, 2022. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  15. ^ "Police Release New Sketch & Recordings of Delphi Killer Who is 'Hiding in Plain Sight'". Archived from the original on January 29, 2023. Retrieved January 29, 2023.
  16. ^ Fedschun, Travis (April 22, 2019). "Delphi murder investigation features new sketch, background on 'heartless' killer of 2 Indiana girls". Fox News. Archived from the original on November 6, 2022. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  17. ^ "Man Who Committed Suicide In Indiana Police Standoff Also A Possible Suspect In Delphi Murders Of Abby Williams And Libby German". CBS Chicago. WBBM-TV. July 23, 2019. Archived from the original on November 6, 2022. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  18. ^ Wilkins, Ron (April 27, 2021). "Attempted murder defendant investigated for possible ties to Delphi killings". Journal & Courier. Archived from the original on March 31, 2023. Retrieved April 30, 2021.
  19. ^ Padilla, Noe; Wilkins, Ron (October 31, 2022). "Delphi man charged with murder in killings of Libby German and Abby Williams". Journal & Courier. Archived from the original on March 31, 2023. Retrieved November 1, 2022.
  20. ^ Tucker, Emma; MacDonald, Barbara; McLaughlin, Eliott C. (October 31, 2022). "A man has been arrested and charged with murder in the 2017 killings of 2 teen girls in Indiana, authorities say". CNN. Archived from the original on November 23, 2022. Retrieved November 1, 2022.
  21. ^ Burgess, Donnie (February 17, 2023). "Delphi Murders Trial May Be Far, Far Away". WIBC FM. Retrieved April 5, 2023.
  22. ^ "Attorneys appointed for man charged with killing 2 girls". AP NEWS. November 14, 2022. Archived from the original on January 26, 2023. Retrieved January 26, 2023.
  23. ^ "EXPLAINER: Why are court records sealed in 2 girls' deaths?". AP NEWS. November 21, 2022. Archived from the original on January 26, 2023. Retrieved January 26, 2023.
  24. ^ a b c Razek, Raja; Iden, Drew; MacDonald, Barbara (November 30, 2022). "A newly unsealed affidavit details the clues that led investigators to the suspect in Delphi teen girl killings". CNN. Archived from the original on January 26, 2023. Retrieved January 26, 2023.
  25. ^ a b Shapiro, Emily. "Delphi murders: Suspect's gun matched bullet found by girls, according to newly released document". ABC News. Archived from the original on January 26, 2023. Retrieved January 26, 2023.
  26. ^ Burbrink, Jacob (December 2, 2022). "Judge issues gag order in Delphi case". Fox 59. Archived from the original on January 26, 2023. Retrieved January 29, 2023.
  27. ^ McQuaid, Russ (December 1, 2022). "Defense and law enforcement spar over Delphi murders investigation". Fox 59. Archived from the original on January 26, 2023. Retrieved January 29, 2023.
  28. ^ "Indiana Supreme Court explains why it reinstated Delphi murders suspect's original attorneys, kept special judge". WNDU. February 8, 2024.
  29. ^ Cox, Katie (September 14, 2017). "7 months after Delphi murders orange lights still burn bright in search for Libby and Abby's killer". WRTV. Archived from the original on July 8, 2020. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  30. ^ Cox, Katie (August 26, 2017). "Delphi Murders: Plans unveiled for Libby & Abby memorial park and softball field". WRTV. Archived from the original on November 6, 2022. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  31. ^ "Nonprofit L & A Park Foundation". Archived from the original on July 8, 2020. Retrieved July 7, 2020.
  32. ^ "Abby & Libby Memorial Park". Archived from the original on November 23, 2022. Retrieved July 7, 2020.
  33. ^ "NBA All-Star 2021 Host Committee Announces Statewide Legacy Grant Recipients". Indiana Pacers. Archived from the original on November 6, 2022. Retrieved March 4, 2021.

External links edit