DELPHI, Ind. - Police confirmed the horror and fear that hung in the air around Delphi since Tuesday afternoon — the two bodies found were 14-year-old Liberty German and 13-year-old Abigail Williams.
"This is considered a double homicide investigation, and no further information will be released at this time," Indiana State Police Sgt. Kim Riley said during a news conference . Wednesday afternoon outside Delphi City Hall.
Riley and Carroll County Sheriff Tobe Leazenby had no words of comfort to offer the community. They said they wanted to protect the details of the investigation in hopes of catching the killer.
Admittedly, there is a killer — or killers — on the loose and no suspects in name or in custody, Riley and Leazenby said. They didn't comment whether this was a random act or whether the girls were targeted.
"Yes, there is somebody out there who did this, and we're going to track them down," Riley said.
That dogged determination was of little comfort to a city of 3,000 people with more questions than answers.
"It's pretty scary to think somebody is running around loose up there capable of doing that," Verlin Bohnert said late Wednesday morning as he and about 10 other retired friends discussed the killing of the two girls over coffee at McDonald's. "I hope they catch the guy because if I was a parent, I'd be scared to death up here right now."
Later Wednesday night, Indiana State Police published two photos of a man who had been photographed Monday near High Bridge about the same time the girls were walking in the area. They asked anyone who recognized the man to call the Carroll County Sheriff's Office and Delphi police at 765-564-2413. Indiana State Police can be reached at 765-567-2125.
If the topic of a killer on the streets was uncomfortable for Bohnert and his friends, who live in eastern Tippecanoe County, imagine how Tuesday's news about finding the missing girls dead hit Ron Logan. He owns the land behind the cemetery where the girls were found.
"To have anyone murdered on your property … I don't know what my feelings are right now. It caught me by surprise,” Logan said, recalling how the past two days have been filled with people — first the police, then the reporters — asking him questions upon questions.
"I haven’t really had a chance to let it soak in," Logan said after a brief pause to think about the day's events. "I know the families.”
Logan confirmed Riley's comments that the only way back to the hilly terrain between the cemetery and the creek is by foot. He also said schools were out Thursday, Friday and Monday for winter break, which explains why German and Williams were free to roam the trails.
Logan shared happy memories of his son playing along the creek behind his house.
"My kids grew up in this area," Logan said. "He went back there with his schoolmates.
"They went back there fishing and playing in the creek. Grace of God, it didn’t happen to them.”
He paused for a second then said, "It is a different time."
PHOTOS: Investigation into teens' deaths
Riley and Leazenby refused to elaborate Wednesday about the girls' deaths or any injuries discovered to the girls' bodies during the autopsies in Terre Haute. This is the first double homicide since the 1990s, and the first child homicide in Carroll County that Leazenby can remember — and he's been a deputy since 1986.
Police asked for the community's help. Anyone who was on the trail on Monday afternoon or took pictures while on the trails is asked to contact police and shared their photographs, Riley said.
During Wednesday morning's news conference, Riley said this tight-knit community flooded police with leads about the deaths of two people found near Deer Creek on Tuesday, police said.
"Right now, we are following up on hundreds of hundreds of leads that have come in," Riley said.
People from the community here created a Facebook page to discuss the disturbing turn of events.
One photo posted on the Facebook page shows what appears to be German or Williams walking across High Bridge and has two circles indicating that there are people following the girl in the photo. It is not clear when the picture was taken, although it appears to be recent since there are no leaves on the trees.
German and Williams were dropped off near the High Bridge about 1 p.m. Monday, but they didn't return when family members planned to pick them up. The girls were reported missing at 5:30 p.m. Monday.
Search parties combed the area Monday until dark and resumed Tuesday morning. About 12:15 p.m., volunteer searchers found two bodies about 50 feet north of the Deer Creek upstream from the High Bridge, Riley said.
Asked why an Amber Alert was not issued, Riley said this particular case did not fit the criteria for an alert.
"Even if we would have put an Amber Alert out, it wouldn't have done this case any good," Riley said.
"The short period of time and the location where the bodies were found, it would not have helped us in finding them," he explained.
Investigators were back at the crime scene Wednesday east of the cemetery on Carroll County Road 300 North. People in dive suits could be seen from the road, and police dogs were visible from the road, too.
Riley and Leazenby declined to elaborate on what they were doing, other than to say they were gathering evidence.
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