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Delphi, Indiana- there’s not much there. It’s a small town surrounded by corn and bean fields, near the place where the Tippecanoe River joins the Wabash; so much like the little town where I lived from the time I was five years old, until I left for college. But I didn’t really ever “leave” for college. I went to school at Purdue, which is very close to Delphi. I spent many weekends traveling back home from school so I could eat my mom’s delicious home-cooking, and trick her into doing my laundry for me. I probably passed through or near Delphi more times than I can remember.

Delphi is never in the news. People there are proud, hard-working, and close. When you live in such a tiny place, you form bonds with people that last a lifetime. If you aren’t someone who grew up this way, then you never can truly understand what it’s like. People look out for each other. They go to church on Sunday and meet afterwards at the only restaurant in the area, drinking coffee, gossiping, and eating food made by the owner himself (who also just might be the town judge, county commissioner, or even the town’s only barber).

I have one, very pleasant memory about Delphi that I don’t have about some of those other little towns close to where I grew up. I broke the 500 freestyle swimming school record in Delphi, Indiana when I was in high school. It was unexpected, exciting, and I can still hear my swim coach yelling as I swam those laps to victory.

Now that memory is tainted with what has happened there in the past couple of weeks. From now on, when I think about Delphi, I will think about Liberty and Abigail, their families, their neighbors, and the unspeakable tragedy that should have never happened.

On February 13, 2017, two young girls, Liberty German, 14, and Abigail Williams, 13, decided they wanted to go hiking on the Delphi Historic Trail system. The girls were best friends and both enjoyed being active, hiking, and playing sports. Liberty and Abigail were dropped off in the afternoon for their hike, and were to be picked up just a short time later. They never showed up to their designated pick up point. They were reported missing, and numerous volunteers, family members, and police officers searched everywhere for the girls that evening and the next morning.

On the afternoon of February fourteenth, their bodies were found approximately three quarters of a mile from where the girls were last seen. And so, Delphi, Indiana would never be the same.

What people don’t understand about little towns is that there really isn’t that much to do, so you invent as many fun things as you can. Hanging out by a cool-looking bridge near some hiking trails would be quite common for teenagers. Those girls had probably been hiking in that area hundreds of times before without incident. They were dropped off by a parent/guardian, and they were to be picked up by another parent/guardian. They weren’t unsupervised, wild children running around the town all hours of the night. It was still light outside when those girls were there. I’m sure they felt safe. I’m certain they knew the area. I’m positive they did everything by the book, exactly the way they had always done it before. Of course they would never think that evil was lurking just feet away while they were taking selfies and doing cartwheels along the trail.

Some comments I’ve read on social media about the murders have been brutal. People always need someone to blame when something horrible happens, and I understand that. But in this case, blaming anyone but the person or persons who committed this crime is ridiculous and it won’t help anyone. The parents did nothing wrong. The girls were not five-years-old being left alone in an area they didn’t know. Liberty and Abigail were dropped off during the day, the sun still shining in the sky. They were to be picked up a short time after their hike. There is no one to blame here but the monster/s who murdered those poor, young, innocent girls.

I can only imagine what the teens must have thought when they noticed a man on the path, following at a distance. Apparently Liberty must have felt that something wasn’t right, so she snapped a picture of the stranger, and then, at some point, when things really started going wrong, she had the presence of mind to put her cell phone in her pocket and press the video/record button. She recorded at least a portion of what occurred that day. Because of her, the detectives investigating the crime have a suspect, they have a picture of him on the path, and they have a recording of his voice. I’m amazed at the bravery, intuitiveness, and determination of these girls. I just wish they hadn’t lost their lives that day.

Someone out there must know something. Someone has seen the picture of the man and has had a feeling he looks familiar, even though the picture is grainy and a bit blurred. There is someone out there who has heard the man’s voice on the tiny portion of the recording that the Indiana State Police has shared with the public and thought, “You know, that sounds like…”

So, to that person out there who knows something, come forward and help the police find this murderer. Help the investigators find this disgusting child killer who is too much of a coward to turn himself in and face the consequences. Let these sweet girls rest in peace, and allow their families and this close-knit community to begin to heal. It’s going to take a very long time, but they need to put this horrific event to rest. The only way they can do that is if the murderer is behind bars. The sooner that happens, the better for everyone. After all, he’s still out there, and he will more than likely kill again.

Surprisingly, when he is caught, it will be in large part because of the victims’ quick thinking and bravery. Recording the scumbag was a gift that Liberty left to all of us. In her last moments, she made it clear that she wasn’t going to let this horrible killer take the life of another child. She was going to leave the evidence that it would take to find the man or men who killed her and her best friend, even if she knew she wouldn’t be left here on Earth to see it happen.

The investigators will find the killer or killers. And when they do, I hope he/they get exactly what he/they deserve. Your time is limited, Child Killer/s, thanks to two smart teen girls who were not going to go down without a fight, or at least, without letting us all here know who you are.

Rest in peace, Liberty and Abigail, and enjoy all of your amazing hikes in Heaven.

Feature image via Facebook

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Tammi Landry-Gilder

Tammi is an author, wife, mother and blogger who lives in West Bloomfield, Michigan, with her husband, two sons, three dogs, and too many fish in a tank to count.

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