DELPHI, Ind. — For more than half a decade, the unsolved murders of two teens in Delphi haunted the tight-knit community of several thousand.
The tide began to turn Monday as authorities announced charges against Richard Allen, 50, accused in the murders of 14-year-old Libby German and 13-year-old Abby Williams.
“I believe in a God of justice and righteousness,” said Carroll County Sheriff Tobe Leazenby. “Today I believe that same God has provided us with justice for Abby and Libby.”
Since the 2017 killings of Abby and Libby, the case has sparked national media attention and endless speculation, but there has been one constant through it all; the community and families of both girls who have been fierce advocates for justice, while tirelessly working to honor their memory.
“Despite their grief, and maybe they found that in their grief, to never give up and never quit. I mean they have built softball fields to bring awareness to their children, and it’s just a beautiful thing that they are just so strong,” said Delphi resident Audrey Wardrip.
Both Abby and Libby were in 8th grade at Delphi Community Middle School and couldn’t wait to plan their next four years in high school together, family has shared. All of that was taken away on Feb. 13, 2017 when the girls never returned from a walk on Delphi’s historic trails.
“I remember my mom said she was on the search party to help find the girls,” said Abby Brown, now a high schooler.
The teen, who was only in elementary school at the time of the murders, said she remembers trying to comprehend the magnitude of the tragedy the day the girls’ bodies were discovered.
“We came home from school, it was Valentine’s Day, and we didn’t really understand. I just remember being scared because I didn’t know what it meant,” said Abby Brown.
The teen and her sister, Maddy Brown, said they remember playing with Abby Williams as young children. It’s those memories they’ll cherish forever.
“She was so funny, she like said how she fell off her deck one time and it was really funny,” said Maddy. “She was always funny and did random stuff.”
Whether people in the community knew the girls personally or were complete strangers, there is no question their story impacted everyone it reached.
The two girls had a slew of things in common, including that they played saxophone in the school band, played volleyball, and both loved art and photography.
“I can tell by all of the pictures that we’ve seen together; they were really close and best friends,” said Abby Brown.
Even as best friends who shared so much in common, each was unique in their own way, with different things they loved or dreamed of doing.
Loved ones have shared that Abby enjoyed reading, being outdoors and doing things like camping and swimming, and loved animals.
“Whenever she came to our house she would always play sports with us and stuff, and it was really fun,” said Maddy.
Libby, whose family has shared her knack for making others laugh, loved going on adventures with her older sister and trying new things. She played multiple school and recreational sports, including softball, soccer, volleyball and swimming.
“In the school, there’s like all these posters remembering them, and we always see it everywhere,” said Maddy. “It’s a reminder they were here.”
In additional to memorabilia throughout the school the girls would have attended, family members and the community have worked together to continue honoring their memory through dedications and good deeds in their honor.
Last October, the Abby and Libby Memorial Park, a project years in the making, fully opened to the community that supported it from the beginning.
Family members told FOX59 the park was created as a way to pay tribute to the girls’ love for sports, adventure and the arts, while also being a permanent reminder of their memory.
“This was a horrible thing that happened but having so much positive remembrance has come from it,” Abby Brown said.
The park initially began with the idea to buy just bleachers for the girls’ softball field, family previously told FOX59. With the help of people in the Delphi community, state leaders, and strangers from near and far, a park with softball fields, a playground, picnic tables, and an amphitheater was built.
While there is now a permanent spot for people to come to as a community, over the years, family, friends, and community members, including classmates of the two teens, have held donation drives and found ways to pay it forward in their honor.
“There was Abby’s Angels, which was like boxes that went to Africa and stuff,” said Abby Brown.
As both families awaited justice, they found a way to pay it forward. Delphi middle school students and community members packed up shoe boxes with school supplies and hygiene products to send overseas to children in need.
This was just one way to pass on the kindness that was shown when Abby and Libby were tragically taken away, family members told FOX59.
“This was something that was really important to Abby. She loved this project. Something we looked forward to doing together and I’m glad that we’re still doing it in her honor,” said Abby’s mom, Anna Williams in a 2018 interview.
Throughout the years, several food drives were held in Delphi, and other fundraisers to help those in need.
Community members also worked together to raise tens of thousands needed to add cameras and lights to the trails where the two girls were murdered.
“We will find this individual,” said Sheriff Leazenby in 2017.
It was a promise that authorities and family members made. That promise came to fruition with the arrest and charges against Allen.
Community members hope this changes the course of justice for both family members and that their neighbors will keep the course in remembering two girls taken far too soon.
“I think it’s good we have the donations and stuff and I hope they keep doing that,” said Maddy.