Delphi double murder: Police botched investigation by 'tainting crime scene', says teen victim's mother

The two girls wanted to check out Delphi's Historic Trails and Liberty's sister Kelsi dropped them off. That was the last anyone ever saw of them alive. Three years later, there's still not one arrest made in the case


                            Delphi double murder: Police botched investigation by 'tainting crime scene', says teen victim's mother
Abigail Williams, Liberty German (FBI)

Carrie Timmons' daughter Liberty German, 14, and her friend, Abigail Williams, 13, went on a hiking trail in the small town of Delphi, Indiana, on February 13, 2017. The two girls wanted to check out Delphi's Historic Trails and Liberty's sister Kelsi dropped them off. That was the last anyone ever saw of them, alive. Three years later, there's still not one arrest made in the case.

They were last seen at the Monon High Bridge over Deer Creek, among woodland in remote Deer Creek Township. When the two didn't meet the family at the end of the trail, they reported them missing at 5:30 pm. They had gone on the hike in the afternoon, around 1:30 pm. A search party was quickly put together but the two were nowhere to be seen. 

The police initially did not believe that there was any foul play and were just worried about natural elements, but then, at noon the next day, their bodies were found about half-a-mile east of the abandoned Monon High Bridge Trail, which is part of the Delphi Historic Trails. To this day, the police have not publicly released information about how the two were killed despite autopsies being carried out.

Why was the killer not found?

Timmons opened up to the HLN podcast - Down The Hill: The Delphi Murders ahead of the three year anniversary of the slaying and said she felt the police did not do their jobs well. She alleged that the investigation had been botched. She believes that the crime scene had been compromised. "(Police) taped it off but there were people everywhere. To me that screams tainted crime scene," she said. Indiana Police Superintendent Doug Carter refuted the claims.

Breadcrumbs and investigation

One of the girls, Liberty, had managed to record and take a photo of a person near the Monon High Bridge. The case received widespread media attention because of this. The photo captured by the girl showed a Caucasian male, with his hands in his pockets, wearing blue jeans and a blue jacket with a hood and the cops started circulating it. It was reported that the police received thousands of tips, but not one of them panned out. A few days later, they called him the prime suspect in a double homicide. 

After the photo was released, the cops released a muffled audio recording next where a man is heard saying, "Down the hill". The police, when releasing this information, also said that they had gathered more evidence from Liberty's phone but wouldn't say what it was.

This composite sketch released July 17, 2017, by the Indiana State Police shows the man they consider the main suspect in the killings of two teenage girls who disappeared from a hiking trail near their hometown of Delphi in northern Indiana on February 13, 2017. (Indiana State Police via AP)

The investigation was lulled until July 17 that year, when they released a sketch of someone they believed was a person of interest. It was said to have been drawn according to an eyewitness statement. Once again, the case lost its speed. 

An updated sketch of the POI was released in 2019, who they were now calling the prime suspect. (FBI)

Then in April 2019, they released a video wherein the man whose photo was released was seen walking for a short second. An updated sketch of the POI was released, who they were now calling the prime suspect. He was in his 20-30s and looked young for his age. They urged the public to go through the recordings, the video, and the photos and help the investigation.

Suspects

The police had multiple suspects over the years. In January 2018, the police also looked at Daniel J. Nations who was a sex offender in Colorado and was charged with threatening people on a trail with a hatchet. By February 2018, he was no longer a suspect.

Image of the suspect shared from Liberty's smartphone capture (AP)

They also looked at a pastor who had shot a woman and sexually assaulted two others. He had fit the description of the man in the photo, partially. Similarly, they also investigated Charles Elridge, who also had charges of child molestation against him. In July 2019, they believed it was a man named Paul Etter who had allegedly kidnapped and raped a 26-year-old woman in the state. Days later, he killed himself after a standoff with the police.

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