Delphi murders 'might' be connected to nearby kidnapping case: Sheriff

EMILY SHAPIRO
·3 min read

Investigators who for years have been working to solve the killings of two girls in Delphi, Indiana, are looking into a kidnapping suspect in nearby Lafayette, Indiana, to see if there "might" be a connection, the sheriff said.

There are "several factors" leading police working the 2017 Delphi killings to look into this month's alleged kidnapping of a 10-year-old girl, Carroll County Sheriff Tobe Leazenby told ABC News on Wednesday.

MORE: 'Epitome of evil': Delphi double murder still a mystery 3 years later

Leazenby declined to go into detail and stressed that there's no specific link at this point. He said Delphi investigators are following up like they have on several other potential leads over the years.

PHOTO: Flowers sit by a bridge near Delphi, Ind. where Liberty German and Abigail Williams were seen before they were reported missing by their families on Feb. 13, 2017. (Alex Perez/ABC News, FILE)
PHOTO: Flowers sit by a bridge near Delphi, Ind. where Liberty German and Abigail Williams were seen before they were reported missing by their families on Feb. 13, 2017. (Alex Perez/ABC News, FILE)

No arrests were ever made in the slayings of Delphi eighth-graders Abby Williams and Libby German, who were killed on Feb. 13, 2017, while walking on a local hiking trail.

PHOTO: An undated handout photo shows Libby German of Delphi, Ind., who was murdered in Feb. 2017. (Courtesy Becky Patty)
PHOTO: An undated handout photo shows Libby German of Delphi, Ind., who was murdered in Feb. 2017. (Courtesy Becky Patty)
PHOTO: An undated handout photo shows Anna Williams with her daughter, Abby Williams, who was murdered in Delphi, Ind., in Feb. 2017. (Anna Williams)
PHOTO: An undated handout photo shows Anna Williams with her daughter, Abby Williams, who was murdered in Delphi, Ind., in Feb. 2017. (Anna Williams)

In Lafayette -- about 20 miles away from Delphi -- a 10-year-old girl was reported missing on April 19, 2021, according to the probable cause affidavit filed on Tuesday.

Officers were searching the neighborhood and spoke with James Chadwell II, who allegedly said the girl had been at his home earlier, but had since left, according to the probable cause affidavit.

MORE: Suspect in Delphi girls' double murder may live in town 'hiding in plain sight,' police say as they release new info

Police asked Chadwell, 42, for his permission to check his home, and Chadwell allowed the officers inside, the document said.

In his basement -- which was secured with a chain lock -- officers found the missing girl, who was "visibly distraught and crying, with her clothing on the floor beside her," the document said.

The girl "said Chadwell tried to kill her," according to the affidavit.

PHOTO:  James Chadwell III faces charges including attempted murder, child molestation, kidnapping and strangulation, according to records. (Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Dept.)
PHOTO: James Chadwell III faces charges including attempted murder, child molestation, kidnapping and strangulation, according to records. (Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Dept.)

She told police that she was in Chadwell's home petting his dogs, and then he attacked her, hitting her in the head multiple times, the document said.

The girl said "Chadwell was also choking her with his hands on her neck and also using his arm in a headlock, to the point where she passed out," according to the affidavit.

The girl said "most of her clothes were off when she regained consciousness, and Chadwell took her into the basement," where he sexually assaulted her, the document said.

MORE: Delphi girls' double murder unsolved 2 years later, families desperate to 'complete the puzzle'

She suffered bite marks, strangulation marks on her neck, black eyes and bruising on her head, arms and legs, according to the document.

Chadwell faces charges including attempted murder, child molestation, kidnapping and strangulation, according to records.

A not guilty plea was entered on Chadwell's behalf. His next hearing is set for June 10. His public defender did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

Meanwhile, in Delphi, there are still no answers.

PHOTO: Photos of Abby Williams, left, and Libby German, right, at police headquarters in Adelphi, Indiana.  (Lindsey Jacobson/ABC News, FILE)
PHOTO: Photos of Abby Williams, left, and Libby German, right, at police headquarters in Adelphi, Indiana. (Lindsey Jacobson/ABC News, FILE)

How Abby, 13, and Libby, 14, died has still not been released to the public.

Soon after the murders, authorities released a grainy image of the suspect, who they say was on the trail the day the girls went missing. State police in 2019 released video footage from Libby's phone -- the brief video clip shows a grainy image of the suspect walking on the bridge near where the girls were last seen.

PHOTO: This Feb. 13, 2017, file photo released by the Indiana State Police shows a man walking along the trail system in Delphi, Ind., authorities say is the suspect in the killings of two teenage girls. (Indiana State Police via AP, FILE)
PHOTO: This Feb. 13, 2017, file photo released by the Indiana State Police shows a man walking along the trail system in Delphi, Ind., authorities say is the suspect in the killings of two teenage girls. (Indiana State Police via AP, FILE)

Police also publicized the suspect's voice -- a recording of him saying "down the hill" -- which was recovered from Libby's phone.

Police in 2019 released a new suspect sketch that officials said was based on a witness' recollection of what he or she saw.

PHOTO: Indiana State Police released a new sketch of the suspect in the unsolved murders of two teen girls. (Indiana State Police)
PHOTO: Indiana State Police released a new sketch of the suspect in the unsolved murders of two teen girls. (Indiana State Police)

Leazenby on Wednesday urged the public not to do a "side-by-side comparison" with the Delphi sketch and the Lafayette kidnapping suspect.

"Someone looks like somebody, that obviously does not mean that is the person," he said.

This year an anonymous donor added $100,000 to the reward fund in Abby and Libby's case, Leazenby said. The reward is now up to $325,000.

Anyone with information on the Delphi case is asked to contact abbyandlibbytip@cacoshrf.com.

Delphi murders 'might' be connected to nearby kidnapping case: Sheriff originally appeared on abcnews.go.com