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One year later: Family of slain Delphi, Ind. teenager fights for justice

Tribune News Service logo Tribune News Service 5 days ago By Kim Dunlap Pharos-Tribune Pharos-Tribune, Logansport, Ind.
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Feb. 14--Blue and purple ribbons still line the light poles of downtown Delphi, Indiana. Little reminders of hope in what has been a very rough year.

On Feb. 14, 2017, police found the bodies of Delphi teenagers Liberty German, 14, and Abigail Williams, 13, near the Monon High Bridge area in Carroll County.

The two girls had gone hiking the day before and were declared missing after they failed to return to their designated pickup location. Their deaths sent shock waves throughout the country -- and even the world.

Labeling the deaths a double homicide, police have released audio of the voice of an unidentified man who they believe to be the suspect, along with a grainy photograph of a man walking along the Monon High Bridge that day.

Downtown Delphi, Indiana. © Frank Ruchalski / Pharos-Tribune Downtown Delphi, Indiana. Both pieces of evidence were determined to be taken from German's cell phone. Police have also released a composite sketch of that unidentified man, hoping somebody has seen him and will alert the authorities. But as of right now, although there have been thousands of tips, no arrest has been made in the case.

And it's that last part that makes Mike and Becky Patty push even harder for justice.

The Pattys are German's grandparents and have been catalysts for spreading awareness about the investigation. They have even taken their message to Dr. Phil and Megyn Kelly, in the belief that someone knows something, they said.

The Pattys sat down recently at their quiet country home, where memories of their granddaughter are around every corner.

"The people who already know about it [the case] have probably done everything they could in their realm," Mike said. "So I want to get a hold of somebody that doesn't know about it. Or I just hope that God will weigh on the heart enough of somebody who does know."

That's the mission right now, the couple said. Talk to whoever will listen.

"We are going to stay steadfast and stay the course," Mike said. "We're going to continue to talk to people and spread this information around until law enforcement calls and says, 'Mike, we got him. We made an arrest.'"

<p>Abigail Williams, left, and Liberty German.</p> © via CBS News

Abigail Williams, left, and Liberty German.

And the pair said they don't need motivation in that effort. They've seen it every day in the void that losing their young granddaughter has created. A 14-year-old girl that was just like anybody else's child, Becky pointed out.
"Look at your children or grandchildren at that age," she said. "That was Libby. That was Abby. They were fun. They joked. They giggled. They were living life to the fullest just like any other 14-year-old girl."

For Mike, German and Williams' deaths are about the "what-ifs," he said.
"Is she the one that would have cured cancer?" he said, referring to his granddaughter. "Those are the questions I have because you don't know what she would have done. She was extremely intelligent, and she would have made a difference. We just don't know what that difference would have been because she didn't get a chance to live that out."

Faith and family has helped the Pattys cope these last 365 days. Their other grandchildren have helped as well. They also have learned to stay away from certain areas of life, like social media, which the couple says can often be a hindrance.

"It's detracting," Mike said, referring to what he referred to as the social media theories. "People don't realize they're actually taking away from the law enforcement's ability. Some of it provides no value, and some people just don't understand how they're taking away from the integrity of the case."

But not all social media is bad, Becky said. A brainstorming group she belongs to has helped provide every sheriff's department in the country with a flyer of the composite sketch. Thousands of well-wishers have also reached out to the Patty and Williams families, something Becky says was very humbling.
But all the well-wishers, though they mean well, can't give the Patty family back what they really want most of all, they said.

Libby.

The bright-eyed bubbly young girl who baked homemade cookies, loved to paint, played multiple sports and had a passion for photography.
"Everything that we had planned for our lives before Feb. 13, 2017 has gone by the wayside," Becky said. "That doesn't mean anything anymore. When they find this guy, we'll finally get to start to heal, but there won't ever be closure because Libby will never be back."
But German and Williams will also never be forgotten, the couple said.

Just last weekend, Mike set up a new sign on the future site of the 21-acre "Libby and Abby Memorial Park," located at the junction of Ind. 218 and Ind. 25 in Delphi. The park will eventually house several softball diamonds -- one of the girls' favorite sports -- as well as walking trails, an amphitheater and a community building. The families hope to open the complex in the next few months.

But while the completion of the complex will be one goal moving forward, it's not the main goal. That will only come when police have someone in custody, they said, and the Patty family will not stop fighting until that day arrives.

"Those girls deserve that, and we owe it to them," Becky said. "We owe a debt to them, and that debt is to find him. Until that's done, that's our motivation. And when you're motivated, that's where you really find your strength. That's our job. That's what we focus on, and I just feel like they won't ever be vindicated until he's caught."

Reach Kim Dunlap at kim.dunlap@pharostribune.com or 574-732-5150.
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(c)2018 the Pharos-Tribune (Logansport, Ind.)
Visit the Pharos-Tribune (Logansport, Ind.) at www.pharostribune.com
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