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Opinion: Snapchat Murders

Occasionally, I’m going to feature stories on crimes that didn’t happen in California—crimes that I feel need to be written about in the hopes that someone knows something or can help in some way. Or maybe I’m writing about them because I need an outlet, some way to get the information out of my head and on the page. Either way, I’ve decided to spotlight the murders of Abigail Joyce Williams, 13, and Liberty Rose Lynn German, 14 from Delphi, Indiana.

This week, investigators released a sketch of a man they believe is connected to the murders, as well as a pretty vague description: 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 10 inches, weighs 180 to 220 pounds, and has reddish brown hair.

Liberty and Abigail disappeared on February 13th, 2017, after hiking around the Monon High Bridge, which is an abandoned rail bridge that runs near the 10-mile path called the Delphi Historic Trail. The next day, searchers found their bodies about half a mile upstream from the bridge, according to The New York Times.

The town of Delphi, with about 3,000 residents, rallied together in hopes of finding the person who killed two of their own. The community held baseball events and bike rallies to raise awareness and help fund a reward. Pink ribbons, pictures, and signs can be seen all over the town.

And here we are, five months later, with still no answers. According to police, the sketch released this week comes from a combination of witnesses. They have not said who these witnesses are. Police have kept quiet about most of the information surrounding this case. They have not said how the girls died.

These girls were so young, their lives barely starting. Who knows what kind of terrible things they had to endure before death, all because they went on a hike on their last day of winter break. But maybe the most tragic aspect of this case is that the only evidence police have is information that Liberty obtained just before her death. And despite police and FBI investigating this case, the only real leads have come because Liberty had the wherewithal to snap a photo of the possible suspect, and record his voice when he demanded, “Down the hill.” I can’t imagine the kind of courage it took to obtain that information. Did Liberty know what would happen?

This case does two things to me: it makes me want to remind girls that adults can be very bad people. We raise our kids to bow to authority. When an adult tells you to stop or come here, it’s a troubling question for a kid—are you supposed to do what a stranger says or just run? And in the case of Liberty and Abigail, we don’t yet know the details of what happened but I highly doubt those incredibly smart girls could have gotten away. But it’s a reminder that we have to teach our kids the dangers of adults. Adults can be predators. You don’t always have to listen to them. I was the type of kid who would never run from an adult, always in fear that I would be in more trouble. I still have trouble standing up to people to this day.

The other thing this case does is remind me that no place is safe. I’m sure any therapist would say that one cannot live their life in fear of the unknown tragedy, but where does one cross the line from being vigilant to paranoid?

Two girls go hiking in a small town. They take Snapchats along their adventure. Their last day of freedom before going back to school. They are found murdered the next day, near that same trail. How are we not supposed to be paranoid? And at the same time, how dare someone take away our security, the freedom of a kid to go exploring outside with a friend?

R.I.P. girls, you are both heroes. And hopefully you will have the justice you deserve. It will be your quick thinking and acts of courage that will solve this case.

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