DELPHI, Ind.—Almost immediately after the murders of Liberty German, 14, and Abigail Williams, 13, the conversations in the small community started swirling about trail safety.
The teens disappeared after going for a walk along the Delphi Historic Trails on February 13, 2017, and their bodies were discovered the following day.
A trail task force convened less than a month after the shocking crime; its goal was to identify and implement feasible safety improvements along the trail and its access points. Task force members have spent the better part of the past year consulting with law enforcement, raising money and putting together a plan.
“None of us are experts, but we wanted to see something happen,” said Julia Leahy, executive director of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce and member of the trail safety task force.
The Delphi Historic Trails represent about a network of roughly 10 miles of walking paths. They draw visitors and tourists to the county and to Delphi, but since the murders, Leahy said requests for trail maps have pretty much stopped.
But before any type of security improvement could be implemented, the task force needed to raise money to fund them, so they embarked upon an online fundraising campaign that turned out to be incredibly successful.
The task force raised roughly $90,000 through online contributions, and received a $50,000 matching grant from the Indiana House and Community Development Authority. It’s enough to pay for better lighting at all five trail access points, cameras, information kiosks at three points along the trail, public WiFi in places and trail markers placed every tenth of a mile.
“We want to make sure every park and every trail entry point has some sort of cameras and some lighting and better signage and markings,” said Leahy.
In addition to the visible security measures, Leahy said a new E911 Overlay mapping system will give emergency services precise maps of where the trail markers are and how to access them—the goal is to reduce response time if someone calls in about an incident.
The task force signed a contract with Digital Video Solutions and Security, a company based out of Avila, Indiana, to install an estimated 70 cameras at trail access points. Members hope the cameras can assist law enforcement should any time of crime or vandalism occur along the trails.
The trail markers are essentially done and waiting to be installed along the path when the weather gets warmer. Leahy says they will need to wait until the spring before they can do trenching to bring electrical to certain areas, but she anticipates all the security improvements to be complete within the next six to eight months.