The suspect responsible for the deaths of two Delphi, Indiana, girls is still on the loose, but the reward money for information leading to an arrest continues to increase. Authorities are hoping the large reward fund will bring the killer to justice, but warn that false accusations are not only illegal, but also stall the progress in the case.
On Wednesday, former Indianapolis Colts punter, Pat McAfee, announced a hefty reward amount put towards the Delphi teens reward fund, bringing the total amount to $200,000. McAfee, along with Indianapolis Colts team owner, Jim Irsay, combined their contributions together, donating a total of $97,000.
McAfee appeared in a video with Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter on Wednesday, and pleaded for anyone with information on the suspect(s) who killed Libby German, 14, and Abby Williams, 13, to come forward and contact the dedicated tip line.
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) March 1, 2017
The teens were discovered murdered in a wooded area in Delphi on February 13, around a half mile from railroad tracks they were taking a hike on. Since then, over 9,000 tips poured into the tip line. Authorities uncovered a grainy photo of a man on Libby German’s phone, as well as a 6-minute audio clip of what appeared to a be man saying, “Down the hill,” which sparked massive amounts of tips and suggestions from the public.
Although detectives urged residents to remain calm and continue on with their lives, for some people, such as Delphi local Jennifer Robinson, that advice is easier said than done. With three children in the area, Robinson admitted that she doesn’t feel safe.
Another issue, according to police, is social media. Indiana State Police Sgt. Tony Slocum said that anger, frustrations, and theories on who the suspect is and what happened is not helping the situation unless they have valid evidence that can help lead authorities to the killer.
“Unfortunately, in this case, I’ve seen where people are putting a photo next to our suspect’s photo and saying, ‘Hey, this is the guy.’ “It’s a dangerous game to post someone’s photo on a social media site and say, ‘That’s who the police arrested for double homicide.’ That’s not fair to them.”
Blaming someone without merit can also lead to civil lawsuit, detectives warned. According to expert in First Amendment issues, David L. Hudson Jr., making accusations online doesn’t protect people from libel. In fact, accusing someone of a crime and making false statements that could hurt someone’s reputation, whether online or offline, is considered libel in all 50 states.
“A lot of people think that online is a libel-free zone. You don’t make false statements about people that would hurt their reputation. That is a … way that hurts the investigation and ruins the reputations of what might otherwise be good people.”
Anyone with any valid information on the case should should call the Delphi Homicide Investigation Tip Line at (844) 459-5786 or 1-800-225-5324 (800-Call FBI).
[Feature Photo: Police Handout]