DELPHI — Recent articles and arrests have sparked a number of rumors as we get close to the two year mark for the murders of Abigail Williams and Liberty German in Delphi, but investigators say spreading misinformation can actually have a negative effect on the investigation.
Libby and Abby went missing on February 13, 2017, while taking a hike near the Monon High Bridge. The girls’ bodies were found the next morning and their families, law enforcement and the community have spent the last 23 months trying to find the person responsible.
The girl’s deaths quickly became an unsolved mystery thrust into the national spotlight. While police continue their search for the girls’ killer, people are coming up with their own theories about who did it and often sharing those theories – along with photos of potentially innocent people – online.
Although Indiana State Police say they know the people they call “internet detectives” mean well, their speculations and rumors on social media can do more to hinder the investigation, than to help it.
RTV6 has been following the investigation into Libby and Abby’s murders since the night the girls went missing and we wanted to take a brief look at some of the recent rumors floating around and let you know where the investigation currently stands.
Rumor 1: “New Evidence”
One rumor floating around in recent days has been the appearance of “new evidence” in the murder investigation.
Carroll County Sheriff Tobe Leazenby says he wants to stress to the public that there has not been any new evidence in the case. He says investigators are and will continue looking at the evidence they do have in new ways to make sure there isn’t something they’ve missed.
Sheriff Leazenby says all of the evidence from their investigation has been analyzed in the Indiana State Police labs as they continue to work with the FBI and Indiana State Police. He says there is no "new" evidence, but their investigators will continue to look for new ways to review the evidence that they already have.
Rumor 2: “Arrest Connection”
Another rumor floating around is that Investigators believe a man recently arrested in Randolph County for sexual crimes against children could be the Delphi killer.
The man’s mugshot got buzz online after a northern Indiana radio station posted a blog comparing it side-by-side with sketch of the suspect in the murders of Libby and Abby. From there, several other news organizations locally and across the country began sharing it as well.
You can read the entire letter from the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office HERE.
The mugshot comparison and buzz it created prompted the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office to issue a statement saying rumors saying that man was also the person who "committed the Delphi double homicide are not true."
In that open letter, the sheriff’s department said although the man resembles the sketch, there is "currently zero evidence that ties him to the case and he is not a suspect" in the Delphi murders.
Because that man has not been named a suspect or a person of interest, RTV6 will not name him in connection with this case. Last year there was a person of interest in the investigation, but that man has since been cleared by investigators.
Investigators working on the Delphi case say they are aware of the man's arrest and they will look into it, just as they do any other tip they receive about the murders but at this time they do not have any reason to believe he is connected to the case.
Indiana State Police's statement also urges people to send in tips rather than comparing photos online.
“We know it’s hard for the public and media to resist posting side-by-side comparisons on social media of people who are alleged to have committed heinous crimes and also resemble the sketch of the Delphi murder suspect.” Capt. Dave Bursten, the Chief Public Information Officer for the Indiana State Police said. “The only positive result from these actions is it keeps this open investigation in the mind of the public. What we really appreciate is when the public submits their tip information."
"I can promise you this, when an arrest is made of a suspect identified by the multi-agency investigative team as the alleged perpetrator of the Delphi murders, rest assured, we will let everyone know."
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This is not the first time Indiana State Police have had to quash rumors floating around on the internet or images comparing possibly innocent people to the sketch of the Delphi killer.
There have been multiple mugshots from arrests that have drawn attention due to the person’s likeness to the sketch of the Delphi killer. There have also been rumors of a serial killer and even comparisons to other similar murders across the country that have caused an uproar among circles who have dedicated their time to helping police find Libby and Abby’s murderer. “The facts will come out. Those facts will come from us, and they’ll come from reliable news sources,” Indiana State Police Sgt. John Perrine said in an interview with RTV6 last year.
Investigators continue to look into the thousands of tips they have received since Abby and Libby’s deaths and they urge anyone who thinks they may have information to come forward.
“Each tip - whether it receives media attention or not - is investigated for any connection to the Delphi case,” Indiana State Police said in a release earlier this month.
The reward for information into the murders is still more than $200,000.
How You Can Help
Indiana State Police released a photo of a suspect, which was taken by Liberty on her cell phone the day that she died. She also captured a man’s voice saying, “down the hill” during what police call “criminal activity.” You can listen to that recording and see the photo below along with a sketch later released by Indiana State Police.
Indiana State Police ask anyone who recognizes that man or the voice, or who may have any other information about Libby or Abby’s murders to call the Tip Line at (844) 459-5786 or I-800-225-5324. Tips can also be emailed to AbbyandLibbyTip@cacoshrf.com.
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