Police are reportedly investigating a possible connection between the murders of two Indiana teenagers and a man accused of child molestation, after the public drew similarities between his mugshot and an FBI sketch of the alleged killer.
Charles Andrew Eldridge, 46, was arrested on January 8 during an undercover sting in Union City, Indiana, after he arranged to have sex with a Randolph County Police officer posing as a 13-year-old girl, the Daily Mail reports. He was arrested and charged with two counts of child molestation, one count of attempted child molestation and one count of child solicitation.
After his mugshot was circulated in local news, Indiana residents began calling in to the tip line at the Carroll County Sheriff's Department, which is investigating the murders of Abby Williams, 13, and Libby German, 14. Many callers noted similarities between Eldridge's mugshot and a sketch of the girls' alleged killer.
The girls' bodies were discovered Valentine's Day 2017, 24 hours after they were dropped off at a local nature trail to go walking. They were never seen again. Their bodies were found about half a mile upstream from an abandoned bridge at the nature preserve, and no cause of death has ever been revealed for either, despite autopsies being conducted.
A multi-investigative team in Delphi, Indiana, comprised of the FBI, local and state police has revealed that they are investigating to see if there could be any connection between Eldridge and the murders of the two young girls.
Nearly two years after their tragic deaths, the murders of Abby and Libby are still raw in the Delphi community, comprised of just 2,877 people and located in the farmlands about an hour from Indiana.
The two eighth-graders had attended softball practice earlier in the day before heading to the Delphi Historic Trails on a day off from school. the Mail reported. The girls took several photos of themselves standing on the railroad tracks on the trails, and they posted the images to Facebook and Snapchat.
One photo, captured on Libby's smartphone that day, shows a man in jeans, a blue jacket, brown hoodie and a hat heading toward them -- believed to be the man who likely abducted and killed the girls.
Libby also managed to document more evidence before she died. A short audio clip in which a man can be heard saying, "Down the hill," to the girls was captured on her phone.
The photo and audio is largely the only concrete evidence police have had to go on in pursuit of their killer. Since their deaths, the multi-investigative team says they have pursued 30,000 leads to no avail. Many had high hopes about Daniel Nations, a "person of interest" in Colorado who was investigated in 2017, but he was never officially named a suspect nor arrested.
A few months after their deaths, the FBI released a composite sketch of the man they believed to have murdered Abby and Libby, depicted as a white male with red-brown hair, between 5 foot 6 inches and 5 foot 10 inches tall and weighing 180 to 220 pounds. Now, in 2018, hope has been reinvigorated by the arrest of Charles Eldridge, who was nabbed about 116 miles from the Delphi Historic Trails - the scene of the girls' murder.
Eldridge reportedly admitted to his own history of sexual encounters with minors upon his arrest, telling law enforcement he has engaged in sexual acts with a child younger than 13 on multiple occasions, Fox 59 reports. He is currently being held without bond before his first court appearance.
Capt. Dave Bursten, the chief public information officer for the Indiana State Police, assured the public that all tips submitted about the murders are investigated, whether they are publicized or not. He added that members of the multi-investigative team can't comment on specific actions taken in an ongoing case.
“We know it’s hard for the public and media to resist posting side-by-side comparisons on social media of people who are alleged to have committed heinous crimes and also resemble the sketch of the Delphi murder suspect," Bursten said.
“The only positive result from these actions is it keeps this open investigation in the mind of the public," he continued. "What we really appreciate is when the public submits their tip information to either the tip email address of Abbyandlibbytip@cacoshrf.com or calls the tip line at (844) 459-5786 to pass along their information.”
“I can promise you this: When an arrest is made of a suspect identified by the multi-agency investigative team as the alleged perpetrator of the Delphi Murders, rest assured, we will let everyone know.”