It has been almost two years since the murders of two young Indiana girls gripped the nation.
But in response to social media rumors and several viral reports, Indiana police say there is so far no evidence to prove a man arrested for unrelated charges more than 100 miles away from the site of the horrifying crime has any connection to the case.
Last week, Indiana State Police said their multi-agency investigative team was aware that a man arrested for allegations of sexually related crimes against children resembled a suspect sketch in the Delphi case.
“It is important for the public and media to know that many similar tips and arrests of other persons alleged to be connected to the Delphi murders occur with some frequency in and outside of Indiana,” state police said in a statement. “Each tip - whether it receives media attention or not - is investigated for any connection to the Delphi case.”
On Feb. 13, 2017, 14-year-old Liberty German and 13-year-old Abigail Williams vanished while hiking along a trail near their hometown about 60 miles northwest of Indianapolis. Their bodies were found the next day in a wooded area.
Charles Eldridge, 46, of Union City, was arrested Jan. 8, 2019 on charges of child molestation and child solicitation, according to authorities. Police said he was taken into custody after a detective posed as a 13-year-old girl on a social media site and he went to meet the teen at specific location. Police said after his arrest, Eldridge admitted to engaging in sex acts with a different child under 13 years of age on multiple occasions.
Randolph County police said “outside of the person resembling the sketch, there is currently zero evidence that ties him to this case and he is not a suspect in the case.”
“Although we understand that people are trying to help the investigation, by doing this with zero evidence other than a mere appearance, it can also hurt or hinder an investigation,” the department said in a statement.
Capt. Dave Bursten with Indiana State Police also said Monday there was no evidence suggesting or disproving if Eldridge was connected to the Delphi case.
It wouldn’t be the first time an arrested man resembled the composite sketch released after the two teens were found dead.
In September, 2017, a man arrested for allegedly threatening people along a Colorado hiking trail also made headlines for his appearance. No connection was ever announced.
“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 in a statement. “The only positive result from these actions is it keeps this open investigation in the mind of the public. 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.”