The grandmother of one of the Delphi murder victims has said the teenager never mentioned speaking to anyone online prior to her disappearance and death, after investigators revealed they are probing possible ties to a fake social media account.
Becky Patty told The Independent that, up until now, there has never been any indication that the 2017 killings of her granddaughter Libby German, 14, and her best friend Abby Williams, 13, are connected to them meeting someone online.
“Up until last night we were all under the impression that there was no indication and even now, as far as I’m aware, there is no indication that the girls had any plans to meet anyone out there [on the trail],” she said.
Libby and Abby went missing on 13 February 2017 after they set off on a hike along the Monon High Bridge Trail in Delphi, Indiana.
Their bodies were discovered the next day in a wooded area around half a mile off the trail.
For more than four years, the families of the two girls have been searching for answers as to what happened and who was responsible for their murders.
But no arrests have ever been made with several promising leads or theories arising over the years, only to go cold.
Investigators have never revealed how the girls died or disclosed details about the crime scene.
Then, on Monday, Indiana State Police announced that, during their investigation, officials had “uncovered” a fake online profile called anthony_shots.
The profile was used from 2016 to 2017 on platforms including Snapchat and Instagram and used photos of a known male model, portraying him as being extremely wealthy and owning numerous sports cars.
Investigators said the person behind the account posed as the model in order to groom underage girls and get them to send nude photos and their addresses and try to get them to meet.
The male model whose photos were used has been identified and is not a person of interest in the case, investigators said.
It emerged on Tuesday that the creator of the bogus online profile has already been identified and was arrested on charges of child sexual abuse images and child exploitation tied to the account in 2020.
An affidavit obtained by WISH-TV reveals that Kegan Anthony Kline, a 27-year-old man with addresses in Kokomo and Peru, close to Delphi, admitted to grooming underage girls online.
The affidavit states that Indiana State Police and the FBI carried out a search warrant on 25 February 2017 - less than two weeks after Abby and Libby were murdered - at Mr Kline’s home in Peru after tracking down the user of the anthony_shots profile to the property.
Mr Kline allegedly told investigators he would use social media accounts to talk to underage girls and had exchanged messages with and received about 100 sexual photos and about 20 sexually explicit videos from around 15 underage girls.
Mr Kline was charged with 30 felonies in 2020 over the case.
The documents, filed in 2020 and heavily redacted, do not mention the murders of Libby and Abby and he has not been accused of involvement in their deaths.
Ms Patty, who raised Libby from the age of three along with her husband Mike Patty, told The Independent on Tuesday that she does not know Mr Kline and had never heard of him before investigators released the information about the social media profile to the public.
“The name means nothing to me,” she said.
“But I’ve heard that he lived in Kokomo and Peru - they’re just one and two counties over [from Delphi] so at all times he’s lived just about half an hour away.”
Ms Patty said she is not going to jump to any conclusions that the 27-year-old could be connected to her granddaughter’s murder.
“I don’t know if there is any connection between him and the girls. All I know is there is a connection between him and the account,” she said.
“Right now we don’t know if the account is connected to the girls. So I’m not going to judge this man - as horrible as he is - until there’s evidence.”
On the day the girls went missing, Libby had posted photos on Snapchat of her and Abby walking along the trail.
The 14-year-old also captured a grainy video on her phone of a man dressed in blue jeans, a jacket and a hoodie walking along the abandoned railroad bridge.
Investigators released a still image from the video and a chilling audio of the man telling the two girls: “Go down the hill.”
Investigators have long suspected that this man is the girls’ killer and have praised the girls for documenting the video as evidence.
The man has never been identified. He is described as a white male aged between 16 and 40 years old, between 5’ 6” and 5’ 10” in height and weighing between 180 and 200 pounds.
After so many leads have fallen flat over the years, Ms Patty said she isn’t getting her “hopes up” that this could finally be the breakthrough Libby and Abby’s families have been waiting for.
“We’ve had so many things that have come up that we don’t get our hopes up,” she said.
“We’re going to wait and let the police do their jobs.”
However, the grieving grandmother said to get answers about her granddaughter’s murder and see her killer brought to justice would finally allow the family “the chance to go to the next chapter in our lives”.
“We’ve just been stuck in time,” she said of the last four years.
Libby’s grandmother issued an emotional plea for anyone with information about the anthony_shots account to contact investigators.
“We just need people to share this as far as you can as we don’t know how far away this account was talking to girls,” said Ms Patty.
“It could have been in any of the 50 states so people just need you to share and to look back and think ‘did you at some point talk to this account?’ And if so, come forward.”
Anyone who communicated with, met, or attempted to meet the anthony_shots profile should contact law enforcement at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 765-822-3535
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