On the Trail: One Year Later

NewsChannel 15 goes back to Delphi one year after Abby Williams and Libby German were found dead near one of the town's trails.

DELPHI Ind. (WANE) – One year ago Tuesday a realization no family ever wants hit two families in Delphi. Their girls– Abby Williams and Libby German never returned home after going for a hike on a nearby trail.

On February 13, 2017 the search began. The next day their bodies were found. No one has been arrested for their deaths.

The family of one of the girls also said they can’t believe it’s been a year. One year ago Abby and Libby entered a trail in Delphi. Now dozens of police forces, two families and a whole community are still searching for answers.

“The fact is we have two young girls who were murdered, and he’s walking out there yet today,” Libby German’s grandfather, Mike Patty said.

That fact is not more evident than in Downtown Delphi. Teens Abby Williams and Libby German’s faces are everywhere. A sketch and a picture of the man police believe killed them accompanying their photographs.

Pictures, and even ribbons of their favorite colors that adron downtown Delphi, have faded some in a summer’s sun gone by.

The hope is not fading in this small town.

“We can’t say enough about our community,” Patty said. “How they rallied around and pulled for us. Everyone has leaned on each other.”

365 days gone by.

“First off it doesn’t feel like it’s been 365 days,” Patty said. “Doesn’t feel like it’s been a year.”

While some Downtown Delphi storefronts seem frozen in time, posters never leaving the windows since they were first distributed, police in Delphi, Lafayette and other surrounding counties are working as fast as they can to get this homicides solved.

“You figure 30,000 tips have come in,” Indiana State Police Sgt. Kim Riley said. “We’ve basically followed up on 90 percent of them at this point in time. So it’s been a busy year for us.”

Soon after the bodies of Abby and Libby were found Indiana State Police released a picture of the person they believe killed them walking along a Delphi trail that day. They also provided a clearer sketch of what they think the person in the grainy image looks like, and a possible recording of his voice.

“We received thousands a day on days like that,” Riley said.

Even in the months where no new information is coming out, and no national television appearances are scheduled the tip line still rings.

“”We’ve been averaging three to four tips a day,” Riley said.

A billboard with the picture of the suspect, and information about the tip line used to be  at Time Corners Shopping Center in Fort Wayne. It’s now gone. As the days go on, and some signs may disappear like the Fort Wayne billboard, the family of Abby and Libby are continuing to hit the pavement to make sure everyone knows what happened to them.

“There are people in counties next to us that haven’t heard,” Libby German’s grandmother, Becky Patty, said. “We are amazed at the people in the surrounding 50 miles that have not heard. There’s maybe somebody in California that’s heard about it, but someone 50 miles away that have not.”

The Patty family travels nearly every weekend to markets or festivals where they can set up a booth about Abby and Libby.

“We’re waiting for the day someone walks up and says I know that guy,” Becky said. “So that’s our focus. But 75 percent of the people have not heard.”

Sgt. Riley said Indiana State Police have more than a thousand people of interest. None have been cleared.

“There’s people at the top of the list and the bottom of the list, but everyone is still on the list until we have someone behind bars,” Riley said.

The person of interest getting the most attention in the year since Abby and Libby’s deaths– Daniel Nations. Nations made headlines after being arrested in Colorado.

Riley said a local police officer there was familiar with the Delphi case.

“The Sheriff made a comment to T.V. ‘If you look a the picture this guy could be the man’,” Riley said. “Well, if you put the pictures up of him and then put the pictures we have of the suspect up there is some likeness to it. But just because someone looks like someone doesn’t mean that’s the person who did it.”

Indiana State Police did go to Colorado to speak to Nations. He has not been named a suspect.

“I’m not saying he is the one who did it,” Riley said. “I’m not saying where he’s at on the scale, but he’s one we’re looking at.”

So, the search continues. As does life without Abby, Libby and closure.

“It’s on your mind all the time, all the time,” Mike Patty said. “It’s our life now.”

A year will come and go.

“It’s uncharted ground for us obviously,” Mike Patty said. “It’s unscripted. There’s no book to say here this is what we do after the one year mark. There’s just not a clear path.”

But the focus remains the same from day one.

“The only path that we’re going down is one to try to catch this guy,” Mike Patty said.