On February 25, 1937, Franklin County Judge Roscoe C. O’Byrne sentenced two men, John J. Poholsky and Frank Gore Williams, to be executed for their participation in a grisly murder scheme. The two ex-cons, along with co-conspirators Heber “Jimmy” Hicks and William A. Kuhlman, had killed and dismembered retired fire captain Harry R. Miller of New Trenton, Indiana in a plot to steal the dead man’s wealth. The corpse was then disposed of in various locations, including along the banks of a lake near Carrolltown, Kentucky (pictured above). Eventually, all four men would be put to death for the crime.
Just after midnight on February 14, 1977, Roger Drollinger (23), Michael Wright (21), Daniel Stonebraker (20), and David Smith (17) forced their way into a remote trailer near Raccoon Lake in Parke County. Within an hour, they had robbed, tortured, and brutally shot five people inside. What they didn’t realize was that someone had survived.
Betty Jane Spencer was watching television with her son Gregory Brooks (22) and stepson Ralph Spencer (14) when four men cut the mobile home’s electricity and kicked in the door. The intruders pulled Reeve Spencer (16) out of bed then ordered everyone to “get down, noses to the ground.” Forcing the family to lay down shoulder-to-shoulder on the living room floor, the armed men ransacked the mobile home. When Raymond Spencer (17) arrived home from work, he was also forced to line up on the ground. The men demanded money and were given everything the blended family had — roughly $30. Then, Betty said, “I heard some clicking noises behind me. Suddenly a shot was fired and a piece of Greg’s head fell right beside my face.”
The home invaders fired a total of eleven shots into their victims. Yet somehow, Betty was still alive. Realizing her attackers believed they’d succeeded in killing her, she remained as still as possible, helplessly playing dead and listening as blood gushed from her sons’ wounds. Once the killers left, she walked through the snow to her neighbor’s house to report the murders of her sons. The detailed eyewitness information she was able to give police eventually led to the convictions of all four men.
Four years ago today, someone killed Liberty “Libby” German and Abigail “Abby” Williams in the woods near Deer Creek in Caroll County. Their families have been waiting for justice ever since.
On the Monday afternoon of February 13, 2017, the eighth-grade girls had the day free from classes at Delphi Community Middle School. Taking advantage of the unseasonably warm weather, they asked Libby’s older sister drop them off at the Delphi Historic Trails around 1:30. A little more than half an hour later, Libby posted a picture of Abby walking along a stretch of abandoned railroad track known as the Monon High Bridge. It was the last sign of life from either girl.
Volunteers found their bodies the next day. They were located in a nearby ravine on the property of 77-year-old Ron Logan. Neither girl’s cause of death was released.
When police recovered the girls’ phones from the scene, they made a chilling discovery. Libby had left behind clues to her own murder. Apparently realizing the danger she and Abby were in, Libby had managed to record the man believed to be their killer.
Police have released two sketches in connection with the case. The first sketch, depicting a middle-aged man with a goatee, was released July 17, 2017. Then, in April of 2019, Indiana State Police announced that their attention had shifted away from the goateed man to a younger, clean-shaven man instead. He was described as a white male between 5-foot-6 and 5-foot-10, weighing 180 to 200 pounds, with reddish brown hair. Police also said he possessed “a youthful appearance, but could fall in the age range from his 20s to late-30s.” Authorities did not say what had caused the direction of the investigation to change.
The case remains unsolved.
If you recognize either of these men, or if you were in the area of the Delphi Historic Trails on the day the girls disappeared, police would like to speak with you. Although you can remain anonymous, there’s a $240,000 reward if your tip leads to an arrest.
Tip Line: (844) 459-5786
Indiana State Police: (800) 382-7537
Carroll County Sheriff: (765) 564-2413
From The Indianapolis News, February 8, 1871:
“Fort Wayne, February 8 —On Monday last, Rueben Stevens was arrested near here, as being one of the ringleaders of a mob who took from the Allen County, Kansas, jail a man named Dotson, charged with murder in the first degree, last June. The charge against Dotson was such an aggravated one that the citizens took the law into their own hands. Stevens being identified was arrested, but made his escape, and has been hunted through Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Ohio and North Carolina, and was finally arrested. He is now confined in our county jail awaiting a requisition from Kansas.”
February 5, 1881 – A man, identified only by the surname Hill, was on his way to begin serving his sentence at the Indiana State Prison South in Jeffersonville when he managed to give his police escort the slip. The train the pair was traveling on had slowed as it approached a crossing and, seeing that the Vigo County deputy sheriff accompanying him was momentarily distracted, the shackled convict took his chances. He jumped from the moving train and made good his escape.
On February 4, 1989, the body of mortally-wounded Eldon T. Anson was found lying in the snow near his home in Huntington County. Still clinging to life, he was taken to Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne where he died three days later. It was determined he had suffered six head wounds from a .22 calibur gun, as well as deep lacerations to his skull and hands caused by an ax.
Three high school students later pleaded guilty in connection with the crime. Seventeen-year-old Jarrod M. Wall claimed he had attacked Anson because he believed the man was gay. However, his accomplices Erick Esch and John Velasquez, also seventeen, claimed Anson had been killed in a robbery gone wrong.