The Snapchat Murders: The Story of Abigail Williams and Liberty German
The case of two middle school girls that stuck together until the very end.
On February 13, 2017, Abigail Williams, 13 and Liberty German, 14, were murdered in a double homicide while out in the historic trails in their hometown of Delphi, Indiana.
Abigail (Abby) Williams and Liberty (Libby) German were as close as two best friends could possibly be. The girls attended school together and played sports such as volleyball and softball together. According to her older sister Kelsi German, Libby was known for playing “every possible sport she could play” which also included soccer and swimming. The two girls also played the saxophone together in their school band where they bonded together the most.
What made these two girls so compatible as best friends was their vastly different personalities. Libby was much more outgoing while Abby was more reserved and quiet. Despite their opposite demeanors, they complimented each other perfectly and they grew together as inseparable best friends.
The Night Before and Day of the Murders
On the night of February 13, 2017, Abby had a sleepover at Libby’s house where the two of them and Libby’s older sister Kelsi watched some movies together and painted. It was a Sunday night and the girls had the following Monday off from school due to a holiday. The next day at around 1:30 pm, Abby and Libby went out hiking at the Monon High Bridge Trail which was part of the Delphi Historic Trails system. Kelsi had dropped the girls off at the trails and Libby’s father was planning to pick them up at around 3:15 pm.
When Libby’s father was on his way to pick the girls up, he left Libby a voicemail at 3:11 pm. saying he was close to their pick up spot. At 3:15 pm, Libby’s father arrived at the trails and called Libby again, but he was sent to voicemail a second time. For about 20 minutes, Libby’s father went out and looked for the girls himself assuming they lost track of the time or their phones had died. After wandering the trails for 20 to 30 minutes and still not finding them, Libby’s father contacted her grandmother Becky Patty and the German family began to search for the girls together. The family finally contacted the police at 5:30 pm. and start an official search party. The search was eventually called off at around midnight and would resume the next morning.
One of the last known sighting of the girls was a picture that Libby posted on her Snapchat story. It was a picture of Abby crossing the high bridge.
Other videos were also recorded on Libby’s phone because they suspected a man was following them. The girls were both fans of true crime and they did this in an attempt to potentially “catch their own killer”. In one of the recorded videos, a man appears in the background and is walking behind them and saying the words “Guys… down the hill”.
Discovery of the Bodies
The following day on February 14, 2017, the police and the families reunited again to continue searching and prepared in hopes of finding them alive. According to Kelsi in an interview with a true crime content creator, she said “I had actually packed a bag with granola bars and a blanket and then hoping that the girls would need them; they would be so happy to have a granola bar after being outside all night”.
To continue the search, the police brought in the families, volunteers, drones, dogs, and a dive team to search the creek the girls were near. Eventually, Abby and Libby were found by the search party about a half of a mile from the bridge and on the edge of a private property line. They were shortly found after someone from one of the search parties stated they found a shoe that was most likely Abby or Libby’s. It hasn’t been revealed how the girls died since their autopsies are sealed, but the police were able to determine that foul play was involved.
Following the discovery of the bodies, the town of Delphi started to come together in many ways such as holding multiple vigils for the girls and offering counseling at the school they attended.
Investigation and Suspects
On February 15, 2017, the police released the picture above of the man walking in the background to the public in hopes of connecting with this man. But only a few days later on February 19, the police announced that the man in this photo is their prime suspect of this murder.
In addition to this one released photo, the girls also made additional recordings talking about how a man was following them around the trails. These videos however have not been released to the public at any point. The only thing that we are able to take away from the unreleased recordings is the police believe the girls did this on purpose because they were afraid of him. Police also stated there is additional information on the phones but it will not be released in the event there is eventually a trial taking place.
This double homicide occurred in February of 2017 and to this day there have been no major leads of the man in the background of this data. This man has not been found or come forward to the police. As the picture of this man has circulated, the police have come up with two sketches of the potential prime suspect.
After releasing the initial grainy photo and police sketches, thousands of tips started to pour in from the community and almost nationwide. This is due to a high amount of news coverage as well as both the Williams and German families being guests on The Dr. Phil Show. These tips came into helpful use when a law in Indiana was passed in January of 2018.
Another important part of this investigation to keep in mind of is the police have stated in several conferences they think the killer is close by. At one of the police’s first conferences, the Sheriff addressed the crowd saying “to the killer, who may be in this room, we believe you are hiding in plain site”.
The law would grant police the ability to take DNA samples from anyone who has been arrested for a felony case. After given the ability to match DNA samples on a national database, a few people of interest popped up that made the police raise an eyebrow.
People of Interest
After getting access to the national database of arrested felonies, the first person of interest the police came across was a man named Daniel J. Nations. Daniel is known to be a registered sex offender in Indiana but was arrested in Woodland Park, Colorado. To make matters worse for him as a POI, he was charge in Colorado from threatening strangers in the woods with a hatchet.
From then until February of 2018, Nations was transferred to a prison in Indiana for failing to register as a sex offender. Once the police in Indiana had custody of him, they decided he was no longer an active person of interest.
On January 8, 2019, a man named Charles Eldridge was arrested in Union City, Indiana and became an immediate person of interest due to his resemblance of the first sketch. After his arrest, the sketch of the primary suspect was altered and Eldridge was no longer was a target.
Similar to Eldridge’s situation, Thomas Bruce was brought to the Indiana Police’s attention because he wore a similar style hat to the man in the original sketch.
Bruce was known as being a pastor but fatally shot a woman and sexually assaulted two other victims in St. Louis. Due to this other crime, Bruce was convicted on December 8, 2018 of 17 felony counts in St. Louis and is now in prison anyways and potentially getting the death penalty. Police in Indiana have not yet made any connections between Bruce and the murders in Delphi.
Etter was a man the police caught sight of after receiving a tip. On July 23, 2019, the authorities announced that he was potentially a person of interest. Etter was wanted for abducting and assaulted a young woman on June 22. Five days after the announcement from Indiana, Etter was in a five hour standoff with the police and died by suicide.
Despite the amount of POI that have popped up over time after the murders. None of them have panned out to be potential suspects of this particular case.
In August of 2017, the Williams and German families announced they were going to be building a $1 million sports complex in memory of the girls.
Since the girls were known to be athletic, artistic, and persistent, the families wanted to create a place that encapsulated everything Abby and Libby loved to do the most (especially together). The complex is going to include three softball fields, an amphitheater, and a walking trail.
In May of 2019, it was announced in Delphi that $1.2 million dollars of funding was going to go towards rehabbing and renovated the Monan High Bridge Trail.
What makes this case more unsettling and devastating than others is it is now October of 2020 and the Indiana Police still have no leads, clues, or theories regarding the man who killed Abigail Williams and Liberty German. But with the uncertainty aside, no one deserves to have their life taken away by murder; let alone at 13 or 14 years old.
Even as someone who doesn’t personally know the victims or their families, my heart aches at the fact these families are now living with a huge gap in their lives they will never be able to fulfill. The only thing that comes remotely close to the loved ones affected by these murder is the comfort knowing that they were best friends and they got the chance to be together then and on the other side now.
If you have any sort of information regarding this case, contact the Indiana State Police.
Tip Line: (844) 459–5786
Indiana State Police: (800) 382–7537
Carroll County Sheriff: (765) 564–2413