DELPHI, Ind. – For the first time since the deaths of two teens in Delphi, the grandfather of one of the victims spoke to the media about the case.
Mike Patty, Liberty German's grandfather, said he was confident police would solve the case and thanked the community for the outpouring of support his family has received since 14-year-old Libby and 13-year-old Abigail Williams were found dead near the Monon High Bridge.
Patty started with a statement from Abby's family.
"Abby and Libby loved each other," Patty said in the statement. "We respect Libby's family's decision to speak at this time just as they respect our family's decision not to speak publicly."
The girls went for a hike near the Monon High Bridge on Feb. 13 but didn’t arrive at a prearranged meeting point later in the afternoon. They were reported missing, and their bodies were found a day later.
"This horrible crime has torn a hole in our families that will never heal," Patty said. "It's the small things that seem to hurt the most. It's just natural to holler for them to come to dinner or in the mornings to get up and get ready for school or to come through the door after school."
Patty said the girls were excited about the upcoming softball season.
"Just the day before this all happened, they had their equipment out playing catch, working on their batting in the backyard," he said. "They'll never get to play another single inning again. There are too many ways to count how our lives have been impacted to share today."
Patty recalled a phrase Libby frequently said when asked to do something like pick up her shoes or backup--"I will, in a minute," she'd reply.
"Please, give her the one minute she always asked for, to really study the picture and listen to the audio clip. Someone out there knows this person or persons. He's someone's neighbor, coworker, family member, friend, husband or acquaintance."
Patty was referring to two key pieces of evidence in the case: a photo of a man and an audio recording of a voice saying, “Down the hill.” Both pieces of evidence came from Libby German’s phone.
"I'm glad she had the wherewithal to do that [make the recording]," Patty said. "Both the girls were heroes. They stuck together. I don't know exactly what happened out there that day, but I imagine there was probably the opportunity for one or both to separate and try to make a break for it. But those girls loved each other. They were good friends. Neither one of them left each other's side. Both of those girls are heroes in my book."
As police have before, Patty appealed for anyone to report suspicious behavior from those around them. Any lead, no matter how big or small, could break the case open.
He said he's confident investigators will solve the case and told reporters he was grateful for the amount of support they've received. Numerous stories from the media have kept the case alive, and Patty believes those reports have generated numerous tips.
Patty thanked businesses and individuals for donating to the reward fund, singling out former Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee and Colts owner Jim Irsay for their generosity. Other donations made in Libby's name will go to establish a scholarship fund and to build a softball park in the girls' memories, Patty said.
"The rest of the funds, we hope to build a softball field and park in memory of the girls so they'll be remembered forever and have something for everyone to enjoy," Patty said.
Sgt. John Perrine with Indiana State Police also spoke during Thursday's news conference. He said investigators have received more than 11,000 tips. Of those, 2,000 have been cleared and 1,500 are in the queue and need to be assigned to investigators. He said tips from the public have led to arrests in unrelated cases and that no arrests have been made in connection with the deaths of Libby and Abby. The reward now stands at more than $224,000.
Perrine cautioned the public against spreading rumors about the case on social media, saying they could be "detrimental" to their investigation. He also said the crime has taken its toll on all who've investigated.
"This is emotional for all of us," Perrine said, struggling to keep his composure. "It's not easy. A lot of people are putting a lot of work into this, and we're hoping that the tip's there and we're going to find [the suspect or suspects]."
Perrine said investigators were looking into similarities to other cases but don't have any concrete connections. He said police have talked to thousands of people locally and nationally as they try to get that key tip to find the person responsible.
Anyone with information should call the Delphi Murder Tip Line at 1-844-459-5786. Tips can also be reported by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.