DELPHI, Ind. (AP) — The grandfather of one of two Indiana girls slain last month pleaded with the public Thursday to review evidence police have released and provide authorities with tips that could lead to an arrest.
Mike Patty, whose 14-year-old granddaughter, Liberty German, was killed along with 13-year-old Abigail Williams, urged people to study two grainy images of a man police consider to be the main suspect in the killings and audio of a male saying "down the hill."
The photos and audio came from Liberty's cellphone. Police have hailed her as a hero for recording potentially crucial evidence.
Patty said anyone who has noticed that a friend, relative or acquaintance had recently changed their appearance such as by shaving a beard or who is acting uncharacteristically strange should pass that on to authorities through a tip line. He urged people not to second-guess themselves about whether something they've noticed is significant.
"If you think it could be, but then say, 'No he's not like that,' go with your initial instinct. Let law enforcement run that information and make that determination," he said during a news conference in Delphi, about 60 miles northwest of Indianapolis.
"However small it may seem, it's extremely vital that we get every tip we can get. Please, we need your help."
German and Williams were found dead Feb. 14 in a rugged, wooded area near Delphi. The friends had vanished the day before while hiking along a trail during a day off of school.
Patty said he still believes the killer or killers will be found. His family and Williams' relatives ache from the loss of the two vibrant teens who were eagerly awaiting the start of the softball season, he said.
"This horrible crime has torn a hole in our families that will never heal," he said.
State Police Sgt. John Perrine said investigators have received more than 11,000 tips, and so far about 2,000 of those have been investigated and found not to have any link to the killings.
Indiana investigators have spoken to Iowa authorities about the unsolved 2012 abduction-killings of two cousins. But Perrine said the two cases are not believed to be connected despite some similarities — two girls who vanished along a trail and later were found killed.
In the Iowa case, 10-year-old Lyric Cook and 8-year-old Elizabeth Collins vanished in July 2012. The Evansdale, Iowa, cousins' bodies were found months later at a wildlife refuge.
"At this point investigators believe it's coincidental that the two cases are similar," Perrine said.