(DELPHI, Ind.) -- More than three weeks after the murder of two Indiana teens, the grandfather of one of the girls pleaded for the public's help to find his granddaughter's killer Thursday.
Mike Patty stood with his wife, Becky, who appeared emotional, by his side as he addressed reporters in Delphi, Indiana, for the first time since the girls' deaths Thursday morning, saying the last thing he said to his granddaughter Liberty German before she died was "I love you."
"In our house [the last conversation] is always, 'I love you,'" he said. "Before they go to bed, when they get up, drop them off for school ... it's always, 'I love you.'"
The trauma in Delphi began on Feb. 13 when German, 14, and her friend Abigail Williams, 13, went for a hike and didn't return. Their families reported them missing, and the next day, the girls' bodies were found in nearby woods.
Police have released a photograph of a man who they say is the prime suspect in the investigation, but no arrests have been made.
Patty Thursday morning pleaded with the public to study that photo, as well as a brief audio clip recovered from one of the teen's phones and released by police that says three words: "down the hill."
"He's someone's neighbor, coworker, family member, friend, husband or acquaintance," Patty said. "Somebody knows something."
"Look for someone who has recently changed their appearance ... if you think it could be but then say, 'No, he's not like that,' go with your initial instinct. Let law enforcement ... make that determination. How ever small it may seem ... please, we need your help," he added.
Patty also read a statement on behalf of the family of the second slain teenager, Abigail Williams. The Williams family has not spoken publicly.
Police said Thursday that 11,000 tips have poured in and a reward has grown to more than $224,000. The community is rallying in support of the girls with fundraisers, and the FBI has joined local and state law enforcement as investigators race to solve the case.
Patty said "the pain will always be there," but added that the support from the community is "overwhelming."
Sgt. John Perrine of the Indiana State Police Thursday morning said he's confident the investigation will lead them to the person responsible.
Carroll County Sheriff Tobe Leazenby agreed, saying, "We will get that justice."
People can provide information by calling the tip line at (844) 459-5786. Information can be reported anonymously. Tips can also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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