I’ve spent the last 20 years of my life working as a television journalist. I started out as a news reporter in California and eventually I came to HLN, where I have reported on every kind of news you can imagine. I have covered school shootings, accidents, stories of survival, natural disasters, horrific crimes. I’ve seen the best and the worst of humanity. I have also witnessed unshakable courage during heartache and loss.
But the thing is, because of how fast news moves, a lot of times you don’t get that invested in it. You don’t stay on the story that long. You put up a barrier between yourself and the story. You remember the case, but you don't really get to know the people involved.
The headline is merely what happened. The who are those behind the what. That is where I believe the truth and lessons are found.
And it’s the story that has unfolded in Delphi, Indiana, in which two sisters, Abigail (Abby) Williams and Liberty (Libby) German were murdered, has touched me the deepest and changed the course of my reporting career. It’s also the story that has taken the most out of me and has seeped into my thinking long after the mics are off and the cameras have stopped rolling.
When I first went to Delphi to report about the murders of these girls, who were just 13 and 14 years old, I didn’t know my life was about to change. I had no idea that case I was reporting would leave me hugging my own family tighter, staying up for hours with them just being grateful and thankful. That I would come to appreciate everything a little more.
Delphi, Indiana is a small town of about 2,800 people. You feel the girls, you see these girls everywhere you look. The families welcome us into their home. I see Libby’s softball cleats, her jacket. Everything in place, like it once was.
On the day the girls disappeared in February of 2017, they had a day off from school for a snow day, although it was unusually warm. Libby’s older sister, Kelsi, had dropped them off at the Monon High bridge. Later, they would meet a monster on this bridge.
As the case has unfolded over the next two years, I would learn every excruciating detail possible and eventually host a panel at CrimeCon in 2019, at the request of the family. I have actually become close with Kelsi, who is now in her second year at Perdue University, studying forensics, which she says she’s doing so that she can help solve crimes just like this.
But the case has still not been solved. The person who did this is still out there and could even be living within that small community. The families of these young women are fighting and living and moving forward, even when the sadness seems too impossible to bear. And in reporting this story I have learned that we find strength in human connection—in knowing that we are not alone in our heartache.
We hope that our podcast, “Down The Hill” can help. Like all crimes, this shouldn’t have happened. I never met Abby and Libby, but I have come to feel like I have. And I tell everyone I see about them, too.
This tragedy has given me a different perspective. For the first time I feel like I'm on the inside looking out, instead of being on the outside looking in. I feel like I'm on their side, looking out to the cameras, instead of looking in. I know that when you come down to it, it’s not my story. But I do feel like a part of it, whether it was meant to be or not. Would I have connected so much had I been assigned another story when this one came up? I don't think so, but I don't know, but it’s given me a new perspective as a journalist, a mom, and a human being.
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