Police appealed for the public’s help late on Wednesday to identify a man they were seeking in connection with the double homicide of two teenage girls in Indiana.
The man, dressed in jeans, a dark blue jacket, and a hat, was seen in the same area of the Delphi Historic Trails on Monday around the time Abigail Williams, 13, and Liberty German, 14, were walking.
Police shared images of the individual with his head lowered and hands in his pockets along a stretch of exposed wooden bridge. Police did not describe him as a suspect.
German and Williams were dropped off around lunchtime at Monon Bridge by German’s sister to do some hiking on what was a public winter holiday from school.
Police released an update which read: ‘We are asking help from the public to help identify him so he can be contacted regarding what he might have seen.’
The two friends were active on social media on their cell phones before they disappeared. German posted final Snapchat images of Williams at Monon High Bridge Trail close to where they started hiking around 2:07pm. The girls were reported missing by their families several hours later when they did not return.
Police also asked that anyone parked at High Bridge Trail Head on February 13 between the hours of 1pm and 5pm contact authorities.
‘If you can identify the subject or were parked in the lot, please contact the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department or the Delphi Police Department at 765-564-2345 or the Indiana State Police at 765-567-2125. You can remain anonymous if you request,’ a police statement read.’
They were last seen by German’s older sister who had dropped them off around lunchtime near the Monon High Bridge on the Delphi Historic Trails on Monday. The two girls were reported missing later that afternoon.
Police confirmed that a double homicide investigation was underway but would not comment on the cause of death of the two girls.
When asked if there was a threat to anybody else in the community, Carroll County Sheriff Tobe Lazenby said: ‘At this time we do not believe so.’
Sgt. Kim Riley, of Indiana State Police, told DailyMail.com on Wednesday: ‘At this point in time, we really have no real strong leads on anybody but we’re getting hundreds of tips coming in all the time. We have nobody in suspicion yet.’
Delphi Police Department, Carroll County Sheriff’s Department, Indiana State Police and the FBI’s Evidence Recovery Team were all coordinating on the investigation.
The area where the bodies were recovered is still an active crime scene and evidence is being recovered.
The bodies were found in the area of the Monon High Bridge on the Delphi Historic Trail. Sgt Riley said people live along the road close to the trail.
‘The crime scene is on private property, it’s not on the trail itself and it’s owned by a subject who lives on that road.’
Police have nobody in custody at this time and would not comment if there were any persons of interest.
‘There is somebody out there who committed this crime and we are going to track them down,’ Sgt Kim Riley said.
Authorities have spoken with the victims’ families but would not say ‘one way or the other’ if anything they learned could help with the investigation. Sgt Riley said the families had believed that the bodies belonged to their children when they were notified of the grim discovery on Tuesday.
‘They were of the belief it was their children but when you hear from an official, it hits home twice,’ Riley said.
Due to the ongoing investigation, police would not say if this was a random act or whether they were looking for one or more suspects. Neither would they comment on whether the girls’ cell phones had been recovered.
Riley said that the bodies were found around 50 feet from Deer Creek and that he believed the area was only accessible on foot or by horse.
Police would not say whether the girls were killed in the spot where they were found or if their bodies had been moved.
He added: ‘I think people need to be cautious and careful. Parents should make sure they know where their children are and what their children are doing, and if nothing else, know what’s going on in their lives. That’s the most important thing I can say at this point in time.’
When asked whether that person was being considered a suspect, Sgt Riley said: ‘Right now, everybody is being considered. We are looking at every option, every angle that we have.’
Riley said there had only been three murders in the county in his 30 years on the force. ‘It’s not something that occurs every day, especially involving 13-year-old girls. That is not something that happens all the time.’
He described the area as a close-knit community where generations of family know each other. ‘People are born here, stay here a lot. There’s a lot of relations in this area, people know each other. They go to church together, they have community events.’
The bodies were discovered less than one mile away from the Monon High Bridge, where they were dropped off by family members at 1pm on Monday and were supposed to be collected later.
Both of the girls’ cellphones either died or were powered off.
German’s grandfather Mike Patty toldWLFI: ‘The cellphone has been pinging around town – and here there is a cellphone tower – but the ping was last noted around five to six hours ago. And they say the phone is now dead.’
The bridge is something of a local beauty spot and is where the final picture of Abigail Williams was taken by Liberty German, hours before they were reported missing at 5.30pm.
The teens were last seen at 1pm on Monday. German’s photo of Williams on Snapchat at 2.07pm is the last documentation of the girls.
Williams and German were supposed to be picked up where they were dropped off a few hours later but never showed up.
Police said that family members dropped them off but it is not clear if it was a parent of either girl, or a sibling or other relative.
The initial view of police was that there was no foul play suspected, or that the girls were in danger, but as the night passed, their view changed.
Carroll County Sheriff Tobe Leazenby had said in a release early Tuesday: ‘Based on information learned from friends and family members, police do not suspect foul play and have no information to believe the girls are in any kind of danger, other than being exposed to outside elements’
The Williams family appears to have an attachment to the bridge. Anna’s cover photo is an artistic photo of the railroad.
Police, firefighters and volunteers searched the area until around midnight Monday and restarted the search when it became light outside Tuesday morning.
A K-9 unit and a dive team were deployed to search for the teens.