Delphi Snapchat Murders: Why deaths of Abby Williams and Libby German remained unsolved for 4 years
Despite several interrogations, suspects, evidence in the form of (an extremely blurred) cell phone video, a clear audio clip and 42,000 tips, no one was arrested
For four long years, the murders of 13-year-old Abigail Abby Williams and 14-year-old Liberty Libby German have remained a mystery. Despite several interrogations, suspects, evidence in the form of (an extremely blurred) cell phone video, a clear audio clip and 42,000 tips, no one was arrested. That is until James Chadwell II emerged as a possible suspect.
Incidentally, Chadwell was arrested for another crime - abducting a 9-year-old child who was found locked in his basement an hour after she went missing. Arrested in Lafayette, prosecutors alleged that Chadwell lured the 9-year-old into his home promising that she could pet his dog. He then proceeded to beat her, strangle and sexually assault her. And, as a result of "several factors", leading authorities are reportedly looking into his possible connection to the Delphi Snapchat murders.
Just as police investigators are looking into Chadwell's possible connection to the case, social media users have donned their thinking hats. A cursory search will provide the reader with posts from users who have been following the case over the course of the last four years and rejoicing over the arrest.
What took so long?
The Delphi Snapchat murder case was not so from the get-go. Police were first considering it as a missing person's case - the two teenagers involved had embarked on a trail by themselves and it was speculated that they were probably just lost. The eighth-graders had been reported missing on February 13, 2017, and search parties were underway looking for them. In fact, foul play was not suspected by authorities at all.
But when their bodies were discovered on February 14, 2017, the case became a sensation overnight.
"Carroll County is 20,000 people and 380 square miles. All of Carroll County is just a small town to most of the world," said Robert Ives, a retired Carroll County prosecutor, in a February 2021 interview. "We had so many officers working on it, the guys would get assigned, get sheets, and told to ‘Go find these people and interview where they were that day and so on,'" said Ives.
Missing persons to murder case
The search for the killer commenced after the teenagers' bodies were found. To date, police have not revealed the details of the crime. Soon afterwards, the FBI was also called in to investigate.
"It was horrible. And those are things that stay in your mind," Jay Abbott, retired special agent in charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis Division, had reportedly said. Abbott had spent 31 years in the FBI working on cases all over the world, and was the special agent in charge of the Indianapolis Division.
Audio clip revealed
Today, if one searches for the Delphin Snapchat murders, one has to sift through a plethora of information. Two things particularly more significant than others are an audio tape and a Snapchat video released by the police.
Two photos that Libby shared on Snapchat had shown Abby alive and crossing an abandoned railroad bridge. There was also a video of a man wearing a beret and a blue jacket following them. Several people have speculated that the girls were probably aware of the danger lurking around the corner and so recorded what they could. Many YouTube investigation videos have shared that both Abby and Libby were true crime fans and were gathering evidence as they went along.
The audio clip recovered from Libby's phone was a chilling piece of evidence. One can hear the words "down the hill". This evidence was played on TV stations again and again hoping that someone recognising the voice would come forward.
In July 2017, investigators would release a sketch of the suspect based on the Snapchat video. They would even bring in a few suspects for interrogations, but these would either falter or they would just die like Paul Etter. In 2019, police then released a different sketch - a new face to focus on that brought in new clues and new tips.
"Each day that went by we just felt like we were going to be closer and closer and closer," Abbott said. "I was confident at the initial beginning of the Delphi case that we would be able to solve it fairly easily given all the evidence and information that we had," he had said. But it would remain a mystery. "I feel more things than I can really articulate. The exasperation and frustration is always there," Abbott said.
Details not revealed
Investigators have always insisted there were reasons why they couldn't share certain information about the case. "Many of the crime scene things that we won’t speak about that point to more of a signature that the killer left behind," said Abbott.
And perhaps that was not the best way to go about it. Ives, who served as Carroll County prosecutor for 18 years, reportedly said, "All I can say is there more information to be released, which should be no surprise to anybody. It’s no secret and I think it would be a good idea if they did so. At least some of it," said Ives.
Since four years had gone by and there had still been no arrest, Ives added that it might be time for investigators to reveal more information in the case. "I think the more time that goes by or all the time that goes by the less advantage to withholding information and the more advantage to releasing it, but again I’m not claiming to be an expert on that subject."