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Tragedy links towns: Teen murdered in Indiana tied to West Michigan

Posted at 6:21 PM, Mar 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-22 19:08:34-04

STANTON, Mich. — Where distance once separated two rural towns, grief has filled the space.

Cliff Williams and the rest of the Williams family can only sit and wait and wonder how they lost their little Abby so soon, as the search for the suspect who killed her and her friend continues.

“They may have lived a ways away, but they were very close," Lucy Hubbard said of the close bond between her brother Cliff and his only granddaughter—her great niece—Abigail Williams.

"It’s just hard to believe that she’s gone.”

Abigail Williams, 13 (left), Liberty "Libby" German, 14.

The bodies of 13-year-old Williams and her friend 14-year-old Liberty "Libby" German were found Feb. 14 off a rural trail in the small town of Delphi, Ind., just one day after the two were reported missing by their family. The town of nearly 3,000 is roughly an hour's drive north of Indianapolis.

In the month since, much of Williams' family has watched from Montcalm County waiting for answers and an arrest.

“You see these things on TV, but this is a reality to our family, that this little girl got murdered," Hubbard said. "Never, ever do you expect you’re going to get that call that this little 13-year-old girl and her friend are dead."

Hubbard said Abby and her mother moved to Delphi to live with the teen's grandmother shortly after she was born, shortly after Abby's grandparents separated.

Though Grandpa Cliff remained in West Michigan, Hubbard said he never wavered from taking time to see Abby, who he called his 'bumblebee.'

"Whenever Abby would call—it didn’t matter when—Cliff would go down [to Delphi]," Hubbard told FOX 17, adding the two saw each other for the final time the weekend before the teen disappeared.

"She called and said, ‘Grandpa, I’ve signed up to play ball and I need some equipment.’ So Cliff took the day off work and went down to Delphi, took her shopping and bought her a ball and glove."

Abby never got to use the ball and glove.

The family is now planning a memorial fundraiser luncheon on Sunday, March 26 between 2-5 p.m. at the Stanton American Legion Post. Money raised will go toward a scholarship in Abby's name which will help to send at least one student from Central Montcalm High School to the American Legion Boys State/Girls State program, which teaches government and leadership.

Attendees will also be invited to release more than 100 orange balloons in the teen's honor.

In the month since the teens' murders, police say they've received more than 10,000 tips and hundreds more continue to pour in each day.

>> MORE: Timeline of unsolved Delphi teen murders here.

Police released this photo of a man they are trying to identify after the bodies of two missing Indiana teens were found near a hiking trail. (Indiana State Police)

Investigators continue work to identify and find a man seen in a cell phone picture taken by German prior to her death. Police also revealed German recorded audio of the suspect on her phone during what was believed to be her final moments in which a man's voice is heard saying, "down the hill."

The reward for information leading to an arrest has surpassed $224,000, according to FOX 59.

On Friday, investigators searched a home at the home on the property where the teens' bodies were found. The property owner was taken into custody and is being held on a probation violation unrelated to the case, FOX 59 reports.

Anyone with information should call the tip line at (844) 459-5786 or send an email to abbyandlibbytip@cacoshrf.com.