On the Trail: A community coping nearly 3 months after Delphi homicides

Police have more than 500 persons of interest

DELPHI, Ind. (WANE) It’s been nearly three months since two teen girls were found dead on a rural Indiana trail, and the small community is holding onto hope that the killer or killers will be caught.

“We’re just praying. We’re just all still praying and hoping. It takes a toll on you,” Delphi resident  Julie Roemerman said.

Signs made by residents appear in various shop windows in downtown Delphi.

On Valentine’s Day 2017, the city of about 3,000 people was flipped upside down.

“You just never know how dangerous the world can be just by one person deciding to do something,” Indiana State Police Sgt. Kim Riley said.

The tight-knit town lost two of its own when the bodies of Abby Williams, 13, and Libby German, 14, were found the day after they were reported missing. Photos of the best friends were soon everywhere in town along with a photo of a suspect in the homicides. Many residents made their own signs to hang in the windows of their businesses.

“We want to find this person or persons that did this,” Riley said. “We want to find them and bring them to justice. That’s the bottom line. Whether it takes one more day, six months or two years we will work on this case until it’s solved.”

A voice recording of the suspect taken off of Libby German’s phone was also released shortly after their deaths. Since then police have gotten thousands of tips and Riley said there are more than 500 persons of interest. But there are still no answers.

A sign marks the trail where two girls were killed in February 2017 in Delphi, Ind.

“I just don’t understand. I don’t understand why we don’t have any answers yet,” Roemerman said.

“I’m really surprised they haven’t caught nobody as of yet,” Paul Saunders told NewsChannel 15.

A feeling shared by police.

“I’m disappointed that we haven’t caught the person,” Riley said. “Am I giving up? No. I still feel we’re going to catch this person or persons that we’re looking at.”

In the nearly three months that have passed, the investigation has drastically scaled back as officers catch up with the thousands of tips pouring in. At one point more than 100 officers a day were working the case. Now, a little more than a dozen are on it day-in and day-out.

“You just never know how dangerous the world can be just by one person deciding to do something.” -Indiana State Police Sgt. Kim Riley

While time has passed, the memory of Abby and Libby can still be seen everywhere in the rural Indiana town.

“It’s never going to go away. Never going to go away,” Roemerman said. “It’s always in the back of your mind. It’s always, you know, you never forget. We never want to forget.”

Ribbons, pictures, signs and words of encouragement can be seen anywhere you turn in Delphi. Several hand written notes hang in the command center for those who need them most.

“I’ll never forget how this affected me. How I look at my kids, how I look at my grand kids who aren’t quite that old,” Riley said.

With months of no answers and no arrests, Riley said the support from the community has never ceased.

“It’s just really hard to imagine just how much this community has sacrificed and they just continue to sacrifice even more to help us get this case solved,” Riley said.

As the clock ticks on, investigators aren’t giving up and they aren’t letting this case go cold.

“We’re going back and looking at everything that we’ve already done once, we’re going back and looking at it again and we’ll probably look at it again to make sure that we’ve covered every base that we have out there,” Riley said.

For the people who call Delphi home, hope is all they have.

“The longer it goes on you don’t want to lose hope, but you kind of get that feeling of where are they going to find the answers,” Roemerman said. “You want that peaceful feeling back that you used to have.”

And holding to their faith.

“We just pray,” Delphi resident Erica Vance said.

If you have any information about the case you are asked to call the Delphi Homicide Investigation Tip Line at (844) 459-5786. You can also email tips to abbyandlibbytip@cacoshrf.com.

Web Extra: Tips for Parents

In light of what happened in Delphi, Riley shared several tips for parents to help protect their children in any situation.

  • If your children are hanging out with friends make sure they stay in a large group
  • Always makes sure all cell phones are charged
  • Remind your children to always call 911 first in an emergency, not parents
  • When you drop your kids off somewhere have a set time and place to meet; if either of you are running later text/call to let each other know
  • If you are in a place you are familiar with and see a car that doesn’t fit in write down the tag number
  • If on a trail or in a park stay in marked areas
  • ALWAYS FOLLOW YOUR GUT INSTINCT

Many of the tips to stay safe are common sense. If it doesn’t feel right, leave.