Community Crisis: How the Human Spirit Bounces Back

Memorials+set+up+in+honor+of+Abby+Williams+and+Libby+German.

Credit: Alex Martin, Journal and Courier

Memorials set up in honor of Abby Williams and Libby German.

Madison Stewart, Reporter

The Community of Delphi has awaited answers to lingering questions that have spanned over years. The impact that this famous case has left on the people of Delphi, Indiana is detrimental.

An arrest has recently been made in the 2017 murders of Abigail Williams and Liberty German. Since their death, the community has organized several events and even built a memorial park to remember the Delphi Daughters.

“You would think that when you catch this person who did this horrible crime you would have a sense of relief,” said Mary Anne Blue, a Delphi community member. “Maybe some joy or satisfaction, but we don’t have any of that.”

Memorial of Abby Williams and Libby German along the Monon High Bridge Trail. (WSBT, Nikos Frazier)

Over the last five years, changes were made to help make the Delphi community feel safe again. They welcomed a police presence in the parks, and are making sure they are patrolling. The Delphi community has seen the collective community band together to help one another, creating a safe feeling among the entire town. 

Closure is the next step for this community as they try to rebuild the safety they thought they had over five years ago in that same town. There is no doubt that the murders that happened in the community rocked people to their core. 

“I believe that it promotes fear, anger, and socially emotional withdrawal,” said Sharon Gomes said, Nonnewaug’s social worker. “This day and age, parents are more fearful about their child’s safety.  If crimes are not solved, it is harder for the community to feel safe again.”

Besides these threatening emotions, communities in of themselves are substantially impacted by these events. Even psychologically they are frightened by the fear that these horrible outcomes may become their reality again.

“I think when something bad happens in a community it affects the community’s sense of well-being,” said Marisa Christoff, an AP Psychology teacher. “It’s only natural for people’s anxieties to rise and even depression rates increasing. It definitely causes a community’s sense of well-being to drop.”

Movement in the case sparked hope in these community members and potential for relief after what seems like forever with unanswered questions. There’s no correct answer as to how a community such as this one comes back to a new normal but it can be even harder without the potential for closure.

“If there is no explanation or motive for the crime, it would take longer for the community to bounce back,” Gomes says. “Unfortunately, people are becoming numb to such crimes.”

In contrast, there can be many outlets for communities to recover from cases such as these. Joining together as a community to grieve as one is a start to beginning the journey of relief after horrible memories surface.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” says Christoff. “Unfortunately, you never want a disaster or a negative event to occur in a community but oftentimes, when they do happen, you see camaraderie come through. You see people’s generosity, and people’s humanity shines in terms of coming together and building the community back up.”

From community upbringings to banning together to work towards a new future, it seems as though communities are just as impacted by major criminal cases as the victims are. In honor of the whole Delphi community, a new normal is on the horizon, one that will celebrate the lives of those who are lost.