Kym L. Pasqualini is the founder and former CEO of Nation's Missing Children Organization and National Center for Missing Adults.
Man Charged With Two Counts of Murder
The tragic and horrifying murders of Libby German and Abby Williams in 2017 have haunted the small town of Delphi, Indiana. But after years of painstaking investigation and intense speculation, it appears police may have cracked the case.
On Friday, October 28, 2022, multiple sources reported that a man was booked into the Carroll County Jail in connection with the Delphi murder investigation. At press conference the following Monday, Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter said authorities had arrested Richard M. Allen, of Delphi, on two counts of murder.
This is long-awaited news for the families of the victims and the citizens of Delphi.
Horror in Delphi, Indiana
On February 13, 2017, best friends Abigail “Abby” Williams, 13, and Liberty “Libby” German, 14, planned to go hiking near the beautiful area of Monon High Bridge trail, east of their small town of Delphi, Indiana.
They both had the school day off, it was an unseasonably warm winter day, and Abby and Libby wanted to get out, take some photographs and explore their favorite place. Abby and Libby shared a special friendship. They both loved hiking, taking photographs of flowers and trees and adventuring the scenic trails about a mile east of their home.
At approximately 1:45 p.m. that afternoon, a family member dropped them off at the abandoned bridge where they planned to hike. It was agreed they would meet their family back in the same location that afternoon.
Libby posted this now haunting photo while atop Indiana’s second highest bridge on her Snapchat February 13, 2017, at 2:07 p.m. This was the last time anyone would see the two girls alive.
When the girls did not show up at the agreed upon the location that afternoon, the family reported the girls missing to Delphi Police Department and the local sheriff. Immediately police and firefighters were dispatched to canvas the area.
Over 100 searchers responded to the area. Arial searches began utilizing the remaining daylight hours. Later that evening, authorities began trying to “ping” the girl’s phones, with no success. The sheriff stated he felt the girl’s phones were either turned off or the batteries had gone dead.
At approximately midnight, the search was called off, though volunteers continued searching throughout the night. The search resumed the following morning along Deer Creek and farther out from the trail. Searchers prayed the girls had simply been lost but soon those hopes were dashed.
Approximately one mile from where the two young girls vanished, searchers found two bodies on a piece of private property along Deer Creek, north of the bridge.
February 14, 2017, at approximately 1:50 p.m., Sheriff Leazenby, Delphi Police Chief Steve Mullins and Indiana State Police (ISP) representative Kim Riley held a joint press conference to announce two bodies were found during the search for Abby and Libby, saying the bodies had yet to be identified.
February 15th, 2:33 p.m. authorities held another press conference and announced the bodies had been identified as Liberty German and Abigail Williams.
A community was heartbroken. Children were terrified, and parents held their children closer.
Haunting Images and Audio Found on Libby’s Phone
At the February 15th news conference, ISP proceeded to release a photo of an unidentified man walking along the Delphi Historic Trail found on the girl’s phone. Authorities announced they wanted to speak to anyone that had parked in the nearby lot or anywhere around the trail the day the girls had visited the park.
Five months into the investigation, ISP released a composite sketch of the man on the bridge hoping someone may recognize him and make a call.
Chilling audio of the killer’s voice Libby captured on her phone was also released generating thousands of leads.
In an Indy Channel report, “Delphi Investigation: Why state police say Libby and Abby’s case isn’t cold,” Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter says, “There’s a person out there that knows who did it. Not a hunch. They know who that person is,” said Carter. “They know that voice and they know those clothes. They know that posture. They know that stance and they know who murdered those two little girls in that quiet place.”
March 1, 2017, former Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee and team owner Jim Irsay donate $97,000 to the reward fund. The reward is now $230,000 for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the individual who murdered Abby and Libby.
In an ABC RTV6 report, “Delphi, Indiana: FBI seeks tips on behavioral changes to help catch Delphi killer,” the FBI makes a plea to the public to think back to Monday, Feb. 13, the day the Delphi teens went missing asking questions like, “Did someone you know make an excuse for missing an appointment?”
“Just think if you had an interaction with an individual who inexplicably canceled an appointment that you had together,” said Greg Massa of the FBI. “Or an individual called into work sick and canceled a social engagement. At the time, they gave what you thought would have been a plausible explanation. ‘My cell phone broke’ or ‘I had a flat tire on my car.’ In retrospect, (that) excuse no longer holds water,” Massa added.
Other behaviors that might now be considered suspicious. It is often a seemingly inconsequential detail that someone calls in that can break a case wide open. The FBI is looking for just that.
“Did an individual travel unexpectedly?” Massa said. “Did they change their appearance? Did they shave their beard, cut their hair or change the color of their hair? Did they change the way they dress?”
Even behavioral changes that occurred shortly after February 13, 2017:
- Someone who developed a different sleep pattern
- Started abusing drug or alcohol
- Has become anxious or irritable
- Someone who has followed this case to an extreme
- Someone who has had ongoing conversations about where they were Feb. 13
- Someone who has visited the location where the girls were murdered
- Someone who has taken photographs in the area of the trail and bridge
Police say don’t ever feel bad about reporting odd behavior. It could have everything to do with finding justice for two little girls brutally murdered. It could save other children from a similar and tragic outcome. In addition, if the person is innocent, it will only take a couple minutes of their time and they will never know you were the one who made the report.
A "Person of Interest" Dismissed
Johnson County Sheriff’s Office sent officers to Colorado to retrieve a “person of interest” in the murders of Abby and Libby.
Daniel Nations had been arrested in Colorado for threatening hikers with a hatchet on a Colorado trail. Investigator traveled to Colorado to question Nations.
Nations was wanted on an outstanding warrant in Johnson County, Indiana for failing to register as a sex offender so authorities brought him back for further questioning in the Delphi murders.
Police never formally named Nations as a suspect saying they have no information that specifically includes or excludes Nations in the killings. However, ISP has since said they are no longer actively investigating Nations as a person of interest in the case.
Memories Keep the Families Going
In a News 6 report “Delphi Daughters: The Untold Story of Abby and Libby” report, “They didn’t leave each other’s sides,” said Mike Patty Libby’s grandfather about the afternoon the two girls vanished. “I don’t know what happened out there that day, whether there was a chance or an opportunity for one to break off or split, or make a break for it or whatever but you know, I look at it as two young soldiers who covered each other’s backs, two best friends, I wouldn’t leave my best friend’s side. Neither did they.”
They both loved music. Both played the alto saxophone in their middle school band. They loved photography and painting, and both were signed up to play softball.
Life has changed for both families. Libby is remembered as the baker of the family. She loved making chocolate chips cookies. Becky Patty, Libby’s grandmother said, “She was a baker. She could throw a batch of cookies together like no other.”
Libby loved using sticky notes. She would leave sticky notes on her grandmother’s car visor. One read, “I love you! Thank you for everything you do for me and Kelsie – Libby.” She would leave sticky notes all over the house, even giving her teachers sticky notes, and always showing her appreciation for everyone around her.
In the aftermath of her murder, her class presented her grandparents with jars filled with “sticky note” messages from each child in her class. A way of dealing with the loss for her classmates, and a reminder of how much Libby is missed.
Libby had dreamed of becoming a science teacher and loved finding cures and solving crimes, so much so, she took additional classes at Purdue University.
Like Libby, Arika Gibson, a friend of the pair said Abby also dreamt of doing something within forensics and police work. For two amateur sleuths, clearly, the evidence the girls left on their cell phones are key to their own murders.
Abby Williams' grandparents, whom she called Mee-maw and Papaw, keep her belongings right where they were the day she disappeared. “We just can’t erase her from our lives, we just don’t want to.” She added, “We treasure her coat hanging on the coat hook, and her shoes on the shoe rack and her bedroom are just the way she left it – she may have walked out the door, but she is here with us,” said Diane Erskin, Abby grandmother. With tears in Anna Williams Abby’s mother’s eyes, she added, “Abby smiled all the time.” Her voice to a whisper, “All the time.”
Abby’s favorite things to say was, “Is there anything I can do to help?” Always with a joyful spirit. Anna and her daughter Libby both shared a love of photography. She loved arts and crafts and even knitting hat for newborns with aunt Maggie. She was especially good at volleyball at school and had planned on starting softball with Libby with the new year. Her grandfather Cliff was so excited he drove down from Michigan to take Abby out shopping to buy all new gear.
Investigation Continues at Godspeed
The search for a killer has reached national proportions. Approximately 6,000 electronic billboards in 46 states have been utilized to solicit information from the public.
A year later, investigators had received over 30,000 tips and interviewed thousands of potential suspects.
ISP, FBI, Carroll County Sheriff and the Delphi Police Department, who vowed to solve this murder case, had a motto “Today is the day,” and each day at the department, the day has started out with a prayer. “As we gather together today for our work that we have been assigned to, let’s pray,” as each investigator bows their head.
“Today’s the day, today is the day we are going to get closer the end, today is the day we are going to get closer to getting justice for Abby and Libby,” said ISP First Sergeant Jerry Holeman. “We have all worked tragic cases. Nothing like this. I can’t put anything close to this case.”
Police worked 20 hours days with sleepless nights toward one goal. A team of hundreds of investigators tracked down thousands of leads. Holeman admits it has been rough on everyone involved. Investigations can become a roller coaster ride with hopeful leads and dashed hopes when leads hit dead-ends. When it gets tough, Holeman goes back to that saying, “Today is the day.”
“I need to be here for Abby and Libby,” says Holeman. “Because I am going to find who did this and we are going to hold them responsible for their actions.”
When Anna Williams was asked what justice will look like for her, she said, “Justice will be that deep breath we get to take when my friend’s children are sleeping in their beds again. When people don’t worry about their children playing outside,” said Williams. “Justice is in law enforcement. We believe in law enforcement. We believe in the FBI and everyone else that has worked on this case. That’s where justice will come from.”
Unsolved homicide posters still hang in local company’s windows. The community stands united behind Libby and Abby’s families and law enforcement still working the case.
Arrest in 2022
For the last few years, orange bulbs have lit up the entire town of Delphi, whose citizens are committed to ensuring the golden glow lights the town until the killer of Abby and Libby is caught. That time may have finally come.
With the arrest of Richard Allen in connection with the 2017 murders, Libby German, Abby Williams, and their families are one step closer to justice.
“The arrest of Richard M. Allen of Delphi on two counts of murder is sure a major step in leading to the conclusion of this long term and complex investigation,” Superintendent Carter said.
But, he warned, that “this investigation is far from complete. And we will not jeopardize its integrity by releasing or discussing documents or information before the appropriate time.”
At the press conference, Carroll County Prosecuting Attorney Nick McLeland said that Allen pleaded not guilty during an initial hearing. It looks as though the next phase of this tragic case will take place in court.