The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Police have released a new clue in the deaths of two girls — a chilling recording of three words

Police say one of the two teenage girls killed last week in Delphi, Ind., may have recorded the voice of a suspect just before they died. At a Feb. 22 news conference, police played an audio clip of a man's voice saying "down the hill." The recording came from victim Liberty German's cellphone. (Video: Reuters, Photo: J. Kyle Keener, Pharos-Tribune via AP/Reuters)

The audio clip released by Indiana State Police on Wednesday contained a voice, and just three words.

Authorities hope it will be enough for someone to recognize the person speaking.

“If you hear this today, and you think, ‘My God, that sounds like fill-in-the-blank,’ call us, make an anonymous tip, tell us who you think it is, let us investigate it,” Indiana State Police spokesman Capt. David Bursten said at a news conference. “If it’s not the right person, they’ll just be out a little bit of time, and they’ll be cleared and they can go on and they’ll never know that you called.

“But you may tell us who the right person was. And you could be the person that helps us to solve this horrible crime.”

The “horrible crime” that Bursten referred to was the deaths of 14-year-old Liberty German, and 13-year-old Abigail Williams, two Indiana girls whose bodies were discovered in a wooded area this month.

The pair were reported missing on Feb. 13 by their families, according to a news release. Their bodies were were found the next day by volunteers who were helping to search for them.

The recording was captured on Liberty’s cellphone using its video camera function, according to Bursten. The audio, state police said in a news release “appears to be a male voice saying ‘Down the Hill.’ ”

You can listen to it here.

“This young lady is a hero, there’s no doubt,” Indiana State Police Sgt. Tony Slocum said. “To have enough presence of mind to activate that video system on her cellphone, to record what we believe is criminal behavior that’s about to occur.”

The Associated Press reported that Liberty and Abigail, both of Carroll County, Ind., were reported missing after they failed to return from a hike.

Here’s what the Associated Press reported on the search for the girls:

After organized searches, the bodies of the two girls were found Feb. 14 outside Delphi in the woods near Deer Creek, about three-quarters of a mile from an abandoned railroad bridge where they were dropped off the day before to go hiking. An autopsy revealed their identities.

Slocum told reporters that evidence indicated that the deaths were a double homicide, and the case was being investigated as such.

Bursten said during the news conference that the three words — “down the hill” — weren’t the only things captured on the phone, but authorities aren’t sharing all the information related to the investigation now.

“We have other information that we’re not sharing,” Bursten said, before saying that more than one person might have been involved in the incident.

Authorities previously released a blurry photograph of a man wearing jeans and a blue jacket. He had brown hair and appeared to be walking with his hands in his pockets. In a news release, state police said the man was on the Delphi Historic Trail around the time that Abigail and Liberty were walking.

“Since Wednesday, February 15th, law enforcement officers have distributed a photo of a person observed on the Delphi Historic Trail,” state police said in another news release Sunday. “The photo appears to depict a white male wearing blue jeans, a blue coat/jacket, and a hoodie. During the course of the investigation, preliminary evidence has led investigators to believe the person, in the distributed photo, is suspected of having participated in the murders of Abigail Williams and Liberty German.”

Although both the image and the audio came from Liberty’s cellphone, Bursten said that it was not yet clear whether the voice on the recording was that of the man in the picture.

“Someone knows who this individual is,” Indiana State Police Superintendent Douglas Carter said at the news conference. “Is it a family member? Is it a neighbor? Is it an acquaintance? Is it an associate? Or maybe that one guy, who lives over at that one place that just [is] kind of not right.”

Read More:
Ohio parents arrested after 8-year-old son overdosed on heroin, police say

An elderly good Samaritan was killed after trying to help a woman during a robbery, police say

Judge throws out murder case in slaying of Va. man who led secret double life in Fla.