Just before Abby Williams and Libby German were killed in the Delphi murders on February 13, 2017, German captured chilling footage of the man who was about to take their lives.
Liberty “Libby” German and Abigail “Abby” Williams were best friends who went everywhere together. In February 2017, they were about halfway through the eighth grade and had a day off from school in their small town of Delphi, Indiana.
The teens took a walk down some historic, wooded trails on the east side of town, and ended up stepping onto the old Monon High railroad bridge. It was a popular local spot for photographers and nature-watchers — and the girls saw that they weren’t alone.
A man was walking toward them, wearing jeans, a hoodie, and a coat, with his hands in his pockets. For unknown reasons, German took out her phone and recorded a brief video of the man — but German’s decision proved prescient.
It was the last time the girls were seen alive, and the recordings German collected on her phone — including a chilling recording of the man’s voice — remains almost the only evidence ever released to the public in what’s become known as the Delphi murders.
Tracking Abby And Libby’s Killer
When Abby and Libby did not come back for pickup at 5:30 p.m., their parents reported them missing. A massive search ensued but ultimately ended in the discovery of the girls’ bodies about a half-mile from the bridge where they had begun their winter walk 24 hours earlier.
Authorities conducted autopsies on the girls’ bodies the following day, as well as two days following the murders. The Delphi murders autopsy report remains sealed to this day, authorities say to protect the ongoing investigation.
The pair of eighth-graders spent the afternoon posting photos of their journey on Facebook. These pictures from the Delphi murders featured the bridge and the surrounding countryside.
These would later be some of the only clues the police had at their disposal, and the enigmatic, blurred Delphi murders video continues to haunt the internet.
State police served a search warrant at a nearby property, but no arrests were made.
To date, more than 30,000 tips have come to the police and every one of those leads has been followed. There has yet to be a break in the case, although authorities believe it just takes one piece of the puzzle to solve the horrific Delphi, Indiana, murders.
The Haunting Evidence Left Behind After The Delphi Murders
There are three key pieces of evidence that have been released by authorities. Two of these, the pictures from the Delphi murders, were found at the crime scene.
The first is a grainy image of a man walking towards the girls along one of the trails. The image came from a video found on Libby’s smartphone. The man in the photo wears a navy blue jacket and a distinctive hat.
“We don’t know how far this person or persons might have walked through that area. They may have dropped something in that area, so we combed the area,” said Sgt. Kim Riley with the Indiana State Police.
The second piece of evidence is a short audio clip which was also found on Libby’s phone. The clip reveals a man’s voice commanding someone “down the hill.” Authorities believe the photo and the voice belong to their only suspect in the Delphi murders.
Investigators worked up a composite sketch of the man in the photo. The chief Delphi murders suspect appears to be middle-aged, with reddish-brown hair. They released one of the only pictures from the Delphi murders in July of 2017, a full five months after the fact. The sketch of the sole suspect remained posted in the town years on, as authorities have released few Delphi murders updates.
Police believe that the person in question is between 5’6″ and 5’10” tall and weighs between 180 to 200 pounds.
They have not released any pictures of the Delphi murders scene.
Dead Ends In The Hunt For Abby And Libby’s Killer
Police have other evidence that they have chosen not to share with the public. DNA found at the scene may or may not be connected to the murderer. Investigators have yet to find a match but a change in Indiana law may help in that regard.
Police may soon be allowed to collect DNA samples from anyone accused — not only convicted of — a felony in the state. Previously, police could only collect samples from those suspects who were convicted of a felony in the state. This change could help broaden the search for Abby and Libby’s killer.
Investigators interviewed a Colorado resident, Daniel Nations, in connection to the Delphi murders. Nations once lived in Indiana and faced charges in September 2017 for threatening people with a hatchet on a rural trail in Colorado. But a lack of further evidence prevented Daniel Nations from being arrested.
Nations is currently in jail awaiting trial for unrelated charges for failing to register as a violent sex offender and for failing to appear in court. Authorities say Nations is not on their radar at this time.
Another theory involves a second photo from the Delphi killings, taken at about 2 p.m. on that fateful day, which shows a man hiding behind a tree. The Snapchat photo shows Abigail walking on the abandoned railroad bridge. Several feet behind her, a blurry figure can be seen behind a tree off to the side of the trail.
The second Delphi murders photo, though blurry, does seem to show someone wearing a dark jacket similar to the one in the suspect’s photo, though police are hesitant to make any statements about this, and subsequently, have not commented on this matter.
Why Is The Delphi Murders Autopsy Still Sealed?
With investigators remaining tight-lipped about the unsolved investigation and years since a Delphi murders update, several true-crime media veterans and former investigators have tried to pick up some of the slack as far as public interest in the case over the years. The Delphi killings remain a uniquely disturbing case that refuses to leave the public’s consciousness.
HLN in 2020 released the immensely popular Down the Hill podcast, named after the suspect’s cryptic words in the audio clip taken from Libby’s phone.
Paul Holes, the retired homicide and cold case investigator who helped bring about an arrest in the Golden State Killer case, has also spoken extensively on the issue, offering his own theories for why police have been stingy with information, including the Delphi murders autopsy report.
“Law enforcement, when they hold back information it’s not to keep the public in the dark — it really is to help benefit the case,” Holes said in 2019. “Knowing a little bit about that case, because I briefly consulted with one of the investigators shortly after the Golden State Killer case, I know that they have a tough investigation ahead, and they are doing everything they can to try to get that case solved.”
Carroll County Sheriff Tobe Leazenby has been working the Delphi Murders case for four years. He said he remains hopeful there will soon come a break — and justice for Abby and Libby. However, in February, Leazenby told a local ABC affiliate that he feels like he’s working on somewhat of a self-imposed deadline.
“We still have the up and down days is the best way to put it,” he said. “My term ends in 2022 [and I] would love nothing more than to see someone convicted of this crime before I am out of office.”
As of February, Leazenby said, investigators have received more than 50,000 tips. He was asked a number of questions from readers of local newspaper The Carroll County Comet, but had to decline many of them — for much the same reasons Paul Holes indicated.
“I realize not all agree with my responses…” he said. “As Sheriff, the utmost importance, in my opinion, is the integrity of the investigation. The only way we will resolve to gain justice for Abby and Libby, for their respective families and our caring community, is to remain dedicated to the preservation of said integrity. I believe we wholeheartedly owe that to these two wonderful young ladies.”
The Latest Updates On The Delphi Murders
In January 2021, the creators of a smartphone app called CrimeDoor provided a unique — and eerie — look at the fateful day Abby and Libby encountered their killer in Delphi, Indiana. Using augmented reality, the image of the suspect is transposed onto the railroad bridge, along with representations of the girls. It was one of precious few updates on the Delphi murders since the initial investigation.
Libby German’s older sister, Kelsi, praised the app. “This is an app that is going to help so many people and change the perspective of crime, and hopefully solve cases and get arrests for many unsolved cases.”
Holes, the retired homicide investigator, also said the app could prove helpful, as perhaps the closest thing the public has to more photos of the Delphi killings.
“One of my priorities is always going out to the scene locations — whether it be a homicide scene or an abduction location — so I can get that three-dimensional spatial aspect. Here was an app that allowed me to do that without having to go visit locations,” he told the Indy Star.
The investigators probing Abby Williams and Libby German’s murders have not offered comment one way or the other on the accuracy of the representation, however.
The case of Abby and Libby’s horrific double-murder remains cold, with tips continuing to roll in, but at least a year since the last Delphi murders update. There is a reward of more than $200,000 for information that can lead to an arrest in the case.
As more Delphi murders updates come in, all it takes is one phone call, according to State Police Superintendent Doug Carter.
“Somebody out there knows who this person is. I don’t think there’s multiple pieces of the puzzle. … I think there’s one piece. And it’s having one individual with the strength to say that was my brother, that’s my dad, or that’s my cousin, that’s my neighbor, my co-worker. And I think we’re one piece away — one piece.”