Town of Delphi, Indiana, left heartbroken and rattled by murders of 2 teenage girls

PHOTO: Abigail "Abby" Williams, left, and Liberty "Libby" German are pictured in undated handout photos.PlayHandout via WLFI
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The rural town of Delphi, Indiana, has been rocked by the unsolved murders of two teenage girls, whose bodies were found a day after they disappeared on a nearby nature trail.

Liberty German, 14, and Abigail Williams, 13, were first reported missing by their families on Feb. 13 after they did not return from a hike, according to authorities.

A widespread search was immediately launched for the girls. On Tuesday, a volunteer discovered the bodies of German and Williams in the woods by Deer Creek.

Based on "the way the bodies were found," state police believe the girls were murdered, Indiana State Police Sgt. Kim Riley told ABC News.

So far, no one has been arrested. However, authorities have released an image of a man they believe is a person of interest in the double-homicide case.

PHOTO: A photograph provided by the Indiana State Police of a subject who was on the Delphi Historic Trails, Feb. 13, 2017 around the time Abigail Williams and Liberty German were walking. Indiana State Police
A photograph provided by the Indiana State Police of a subject who was on the Delphi Historic Trails, Feb. 13, 2017 around the time Abigail Williams and Liberty German were walking.

The man was photographed on a nature trail around the same time German and Williams were hiking before they disappeared, according to state police.

"We are asking help from the public to help identify him so he can be contacted regarding what he might have seen," state police said in a statement Wednesday.

Investigators also told ABC News that a search warrant was executed at a home in Delphi on Thursday night, but it did not yield anything of value to the investigation.

Meanwhile, the double-murder mystery has left the tight-knit community of Delphi heartbroken and fearful.

"Delphi is one of the safest places, and now, to think something could have happened here in our own town -- it's scary," resident Melissa Deal, a family friend of the two girls, told ABC News.

PHOTO: A cop car sits at the scene where two bodies were found in Delphi, Indiana.WRTV
A cop car sits at the scene where two bodies were found in Delphi, Indiana.

Another family friend, Kevin Kolonginsky, told ABC News he was shocked that such a "horrible" thing could happen in the nature trail near the town.

"We have a wonderful trail system here, that's one of the beautiful things about living here," Kolonginsky said. "And this is as horrible a thing that could happen to an asset like that for a town and to the children of our town."

He said that "from now on, kids on trails will have their moms and dads with them."

Delphi's mayor, Shane Evans, told ABC News today that the loss of German and Williams has been "surreal" for the town's residents.

"This is difficult time for everyone," Evans said. "I think a double-homicide is rare anywhere, but it's extremely rare for the city of Delphi."

The mayor, 27, said the last homicide there that he could remember happened when he was in middle school.

Delphi, with a population of roughly 2,800, is known for its historic courthouse square and a restored section of the historic Wabash & Erie Canal, according to The Associated Press.

Evans said Delphi is a "generally very safe and friendly area" where "people wave when they see each other on the streets."

Despite the heartbreak, Evans said that the community has come closer together in "an outpouring of support" for each other, the girls and their families.

Hundreds of people in Delphi and other communities in Carroll County showed up on Tuesday to try and help find the two girls after they were reported missing, according to Indiana State Police Sgt. Kim Riley.

"You got to realize this is rural Indiana," Riley told ABC News. "Most of the people born and raised here stay here. People are family. Everyone knows everyone."

News that the girls were found murdered really hit the community hard, according to Carroll County Sheriff Tobe Leazenby.

"It's not like anything we've had in our past," Leazenby told ABC News. "This one has a different feel to it. These were wonderful girls ... this was their innocence taken away from them at a very young age."

The mayor said that the town's residents will likely "continue to carry on but with increased vigilance and more acute awareness of their surroundings in the interim."

PHOTO: An exit sign for the city of Delphi is pictured on the Hoosier Heartland Corridor near Delphi, Ind., Nov. 29, 2012.John Terhune/Journal & Courier via AP
An exit sign for the city of Delphi is pictured on the Hoosier Heartland Corridor near Delphi, Ind., Nov. 29, 2012.

"We all had hope we'd find the girls alive, but then that hope turned into sorrow when their bodies were found, and then that sorrow turned into frustration and anger for whoever did this," he said.

As law enforcement continue to work around-the-clock to find the girls' killer, the community has set up several public events in the coming days to honor the lives of German and Williams.

Viewings for both girls are being held on Feb. 18 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Delphi High School gymnasium, ABC's Indianapolis affiliate WRTV reported.

Brad Henry, a longtime friend of the Williams family, told WRTV that Williams was a wonderful young girl who was taken way too soon.

"It’s tragic, and there are really no words to describe it," Henry said. The lack of answers has the small community rattled the most, he noted.

"It impacts everybody, especially if you have children," Henry said. "People move away from the city to small towns to get away from this kind of thing, and you think it's never going to happen, and when it does, it's total chaos, and it's total shock."

ABC News' Enjoli Francis, Lindsey Griswold, Michael Edison Hayden and Jason Volack contributed to this report.

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