Unsolved: The Delphi Murders (2017)

Reading Time: 6 minutes

This next case, everybody should know about as it was just 4 years ago that it happened. This is one of that caught national news due to a video and audio recording on an individual believed to be the girls’ killer that were found on one of girl’s phones. This is the case of the Delphi Murders.

 

On February 14, 2017, the bodies of Abigail Williams and Liberty German were discovered near the Monon High Bridge Trail, which his part of the Delphi Historic Tailers in Delphi, Indiana, after the young girls had disappeared from the same trail the previous day. Let’s take a look at the murder and then go into the investigation.

At 1:35 PM on February 12, 2017, 13 year old Abigail Williams and 14 year old Liberty German or Libby  were dropped off by Libby’s oldest sister, Kelsi, on County Road 300 North, East of The Hoosier Heartland Highway. The girls were hiking on the Monon High Bridge just over Deer Creek, in a wooded area in remote Deer Creek Township.

At 2:07PM, Libby posted a photo of Abby walking the bridge, just after this they were not heard from again. They were reported missing at 5:30PM after they failed to meet Liberty’s father at 3:15 pm. The families initially searched for the girls themselves before calling the police. Authorities who quickly searched area did not initially suspect foul play in the disappearance. However, this changed when the bodies of the girls were found around 12 pm the next day, just half a mile east of the Abandoned Monon High Bridge on the north bank of Deer Creek.

Police have not released details of how the girls were murdered. As early as February 15, 2017, Indiana State Police began circulating a still image of an individual that was reportedly seen on the Monon High Bridge Trail where the two girls were killed. The grainy photograph appears to capture a white male, hands in pockets, walking on the rail bridge, head down, toward the girls. A few days later, the person in the photograph was named the prime suspect in the double homicide.

On February 22, police released an audio recording where the voice of the suspect, though in some degree muffled, is heard to say, “Down the Hill.”

It was at the news conference that officials credited the source of the audio and imagery to Libby’s smartphone, and further regarded her as a hero for having the uncanny foresight and fortitude to record the exchange in secret.

Police indicated that additional evidence from the phone had been secured, but that they did not release it so it would not compromise any future trail. By this time, the reward offered in the case was set at $41,000.

On July 17, police distributed a composite sketch of someone who at the time in the investigation, was sought as a person of prime interest in the murders. It had apparently been drawn by police from eye witnesses to a certain hiker of the Delphi Historic Trails on the day that the girls vanished.

On April 19, 2019, Indiana State Police announced a new direction in the case. On behalf of State and Police and Multi-Agency Taskforce, Superintendent Dough Carter released more information and evidence a few days later in a press conference held on April 22, 2019.

The new materials included a short video recording in which the blue-jeaned and jacketed suspect is seen walking along the rail bridge for a little over a second. Supt. Carter states that because of the deteriorated condition of the bridge, the suspect is not walking naturally due to the spacing between the ties.

AN updated sketch of the suspect was also unveiled, as well as an extended version of the audio recording, in which a slight rise in the suspect’s voice can be detected as he utters the words “Guys…” before the phrase “Down the Hill.”

It was further explained that the previously released sketch, showing an older man with a goatee and cap, is not considered secondary, by contrast, the clean-shaven individual of the newly revised composite is the primary sketch of the primes suspect.

Police say this person may range for 18-40 years of age, but caution that his “youthful appearance” could make him look younger than his true age.

On April 22,2019, police reached out to the public urging all to look at the sketch, listen to the audio, watch how the man walks on the bridge and sent tips to this email: abbyandlibbytip@cacoshrf.com

Investigators revealed they have reason to believe that the suspect might well be hiding in plain sight, and that the person is almost certainly familiar with the area of Delphi, whether it be from living or working there or for another reason. An additional plea was made for help in identifying the driver of a vehicle that was left abandoned off the Hoosier Heartland Highway in Delphi, at the former Child Services office, between 12 and 5 pm on the day of the murders.

Here we are going to take a look at some of the person’s of interest.

On July 23, 2019, Paul Etter was wanted for kidnapping and rape of a 26 year old woman on June 22 in Tippecanoe County. 5 days later, Paul was surrounded by police, and after a 5 hour stand-off he died by suicide.

Daniel J. Nations, a registered sex offender from Indiana, was arrested in Woodland Park, Colorado in September 2017 and charged with threatening strangers on a Monument Trailer with a hatchet.

The expired Indiana plates on the car that Daniel was driving was noticed by police, who also discovered an outstanding warrant under his name. Adding fuel to the fire for public speculation, it was reported that a bicyclist had been fatally shot on the same trail at around the same time Daniel was reportedly terrifying passersby. An El Paso County Sheriff spokesman told reporters that, however “many similarities” there was between the cases, he was not at liberty to disclose them, since Indiana investigators did not want any more information released at the time.

On January 5, 2018, Daniel was sentenced to 3 years’ probation for threatening members of the public in Colorado, however, he was not released since he had an active arrant out on him in Indiana. On January 24, Daniel was transferred to Indiana’s custody on an unrelated charge, failure to register as a sex offender.

In Early February 2018, police said that Daniel Nations was no longer considered an active person of interest in the Delphi Murders.

Thomas Bruce, who was formerly a pastor is charged with fatally shooting one woman and sexually assaulting two others, after having ordered them at gunpoint into the back room of a suburban St. Lous shop for religious supplies.

Committed in broad daylight on November 19, 2018, these crimes put Thomas in the spotlight of press. Some noted his physical resemblance to the then current suspect description in the Delphi Murders, also, wearing a flat cap and a navy blue jacket during the attack, not unlike the suspect in the Delphi case.

Indiana State Police did look into his possible connection in November but on December 4, Thomas Bruce was charged with no fewer than 17 felony counts that were related to the St. Louis Case but nothing for the Delphi Murders.

Charles Eldridge was arrested on January 8, 2019 in Union City, Indiana, on charges of child molestation and child solicitation. Police in Randolph County alerted the FBI to a potential link between Eldridge and the Delphi murders, on account of his strong resemblance to the suspect sketch, this was however before the updated composite had been released.

On April 27, 2021, Indiana State Police detectives named James Brian Chadwell II as a new person of interest in the Delphi Murders.

The case still remains unsolved to this day and the families have no closure as they await the phone call.

Sources:

Murders of Abigail Williams and Liberty German – Wikipedia

Everything We Know About The Unsolved Delphi Murders (grunge.com)

The Delphi Murders — Unresolved