In 2017, the Monon High Bridge Trail was much more inconspicuous than it is today. Mention the bridge or its namesake pedestrian trail to anyone now – especially anyone in Indiana – and the terrible murders of two young girls immediately leap to mind. But before someone lured Abby Williams and Libby German there to their deaths, making the area infamous, it was one of the state’s many hidden gems, appreciated by the local cognoscenti while simultaneously unknown to the outside world.
Built in the 1890s as a part of the Monon Rail Line spanning Deer Creek, the trestle bridge technically belonged to CSX Transportation at the time. However, in all practicality, it’d stood abandoned since the 1980s. The intervening years had seen the decaying bridge fall into disrepair and become dangerous to cross. By 2017, High Bridge had been pretty much forgotten by everyone except the surrounding community, for whom it remained both a source of worry and a popular hiking attraction. Posting pictures from atop the crumbling, 60-ft-tall bridge had become a social media rite of passage for the more-adventurous local teens and photographers.
Both Libby and Abby were into photography, and it seemed only natural they would be interested in joining the many other liberated students roaming the trails that day. Besides, there was safety in numbers and the girls were together, so it would’ve been perfectly understandable if no one had realized anything was wrong when the duo failed to turn up for the ride home. However, one of the most painful details about this entire case is just how quickly people did realize something had gone very, very wrong with Abby and Libby, yet still couldn’t save them.
When he’d initially agreed to be the girls’ return driver, Derrick had explained that he needed to finish his current task first and wouldn’t be available until sometime between 3 and 3:30. He’d arranged to shoot Libby a text when he was on his way though, so the girls would know when to return to the trailhead. True to his word, phone records indicate Derrick started texting at 3:11. When he didn’t receive a reply, he tried calling but received no answer. It wasn’t like his daughter to just ignore him, and Derrick began to worry, thinking perhaps the girls were hurt or lost. He parked his car and almost immediately started walking the trails in an attempt to find them.
Around five minutes later, Derrick encountered “an older man” coming from the 501 trail. Little information has been publicly released about this person, other than he was wearing a flannel shirt that day and has since been interviewed extensively by police. Derrick reportedly asked the older man in the flannel shirt if he’d seen the girls down on the trail; the man denied it but said that there were “a couple” under the bridge. Because this older man indicated the girls weren’t on the 501, Derrick headed down the trail known as the 505. There was still no sign of either Abby or Libby.
At that point, the concerned father began enlisting the help of other family members. He called his mother Becky, who conferred with her own sister, Tara. Both women tried unsuccessfully to reach Libby for more than half an hour before Tara left to join Derrick in his search. Meanwhile, Becky was faced with the unfortunate task of telling her husband, Mike, and Libby’s sister Kelsi that the girls couldn’t be found.
The family continued searching the woods for the girls on their own before calling police at 5:20 pm.
By then, the girls had been missing for just over two hours.
My apologies for the lateness of this entry. The entire purpose of this site is to help inform people of these crimes, and even one wrong word could result in the spread of misinformation. In the attempt to triple-check all known facts, posts sometimes take longer than anticipated. However, I feel I owe it to the victims and their families to be thorough. Please join me tomorrow for the next installment in this series.