Indiana man’s arrest of interest to state police in teens’ homicide case

An Indiana man with a criminal case pending in Bartholomew County is being investigated by Indiana State Police hoping to identify the person who killed two Delphi teens on the Delphi Historic Trail, although a direct connection has not been made.

Daniel J. Nations, 31, who gave his address as Indianapolis in 2015, was arrested Monday in Woodland Park, Colorado, and booked into the Teller County Jail, said Jacqueline Kirby, media relations officer with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.

Nations was arrested in Teller County on a charge of possession of a weapon by a previous offender, Kirby said. On Tuesday, he remained in jail on $10,000 bond.

Kirby said the vehicle he was driving in Woodland Park matched one described by witnesses who had reported a man menacing them in the Mount Herman Road area and the town of Monument in nearby El Paso County during the weekend of Sept. 15 and 16. Those areas are north of the El Paso County seat, Colorado Springs. KCNC in Denver reports that Nations was threatening people with a hatchet.

Woodland Police Department said the red Chevrolet Prizm had expired Indiana license plates.

From Sept. 14 to 17, people in El Paso County were searching for Timothy Watkins, a 61-year-old man who was found shot to death Sept. 17 on an El Paso County trail. However, authorities have not said that Nations is a suspect in Watkins’ death.

Indiana State Police Sgt. Kim Riley said the police agency was given information about Nations on Wednesday, but no connection has yet been made between Nations and the deaths of two Delphi teenagers.

“It’s still early,” Riley said.

Abby Williams, 13, and Libby German, 14, were reported missing Feb. 13. German and Williams were dropped off near the Monon High Bridge Trail near Delphi to go hiking. But when a family member came to pick them up, they weren’t there. Search volunteers discovered the girls’ bodies near the Delphi Historic Trail on Feb. 14.

Investigators in Indiana released this statement:

“We are aware of the arrest of the person in Colorado and are investigating to see if he could be a suspect in the Delphi double-murder investigation. Please keep in mind the Indiana State Police has received more than a thousand photos of persons alleged to be similar in appearance to the composite sketch of the Delphi person of interest. Each and every one of these tips are investigated for any potential connection to our case. We will give the same attention to the person arrested in Colorado, but right now there is nothing that definitively connects this person to our investigation. If that should change — with this tip, or any other tip — rest assured we would be sharing such news with all media sources.”

Bartholomew County arrest

Bartholomew County court records show Nations was arrested locally in July 2015 for public indecency, accused of fondling his genitals in a public place.

Sheriff’s deputies were called to a Taylorsville gas station in the 11000 block of North U.S. 31 on July 24, 2015, about the incident, Sheriff Matt Myers said. Deputies and detectives took statements at the scene and forwarded a report to the Bartholomew County Prosecutor’s office, which issued a warrant for Nations’ arrest, Myers said.

Myers has not been contacted by state police or other investigators about the Nations case, he said.

Represented by public defender Grant Tucker in Columbus, Nations entered into a plea bargain in Bartholomew Superior Court 2 on Jan. 15, 2016, agreeing to plead guilty to the misdemeanor public indecency charge and receiving a one-year suspended sentence in the Bartholomew County Jail and a $183 fine for court costs, court records state. He was also ordered to pay monthly probation fees and to obtain a mental health evaluation.

Court records show he was to start his probation and suspended sentence upon his release from the Morgan County Jail, where he was being held on charges of domestic battery, filed Dec. 14, 2015 in Morgan Superior Court 2, and invasion of privacy, filed on Dec. 23, 2015 in Morgan Superior Court 1.

On Oct. 10, 2016, the Bartholomew County Prosecutor’s office filed a petition to revoke Nations’ probation, and Nations requested a public defender to represent him. The petition to revoke was about failure to obtain the mental health evaluation, Tucker said.

According to court records, Nations appeared in Bartholomew Superior Court 2 on Jan. 9, again represented by Tucker, for a hearing on the revocation and again March 6 for a fact-finding hearing.

A hearing to rule on the revocation was set for May 1, but Nations failed to appear, court records state. Nations had told Tucker his wife was in the hospital and he could not attend that hearing, Tucker said.

The hearing was then reset for June 5, court records state. Nations failed to appear for that hearing and a warrant, still pending, was issued for his arrest on that day, court records state. Tucker said his file on Nation’s case remains open with the pending warrant.

In July, Indiana State Police released a sketch of a suspect in the Delphi case. The suspect has been described as 5-6 to 5-10 and weighing 180 to 220 pounds with reddish brown hair.

Mike Patty, German’s grandfather, said he saw the information on Nations, but had not heard from investigators about any update in the case.

Johnson County arrests

Nations had lived in Johnson County, where he was arrested twice and also failed to register as a sex offender, according to court documents.

Earlier this year, he registered with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office that he was living in a hotel on Main Street in Greenwood. But in May, Nations moved out of the hotel and didn’t tell the sheriff’s office, and he was charged this week with a felony count of failing to register as a sex offender, according to the court filing.

Nations was required to register as a sex offender after he was convicted of indecent exposure in 2007. Police in South Carolina said he exposed himself and touched himself in front of a woman in a store parking lot, according to the sex and violent offender registry.

But Nations did not register properly, and is also wanted for not appearing in court in Johnson County, according to the registry.

In April, Nations went to the sheriff’s office to register his Greenwood address, and investigators tried to reach him to verify his address, but couldn’t. In May, the manager of the hotel said Nations had moved out and not updated his address, the filing said.

Nations was arrested on two previous occasions in Johnson County.

In March 2015, Nations was arrested on a charge of possession of marijuana during a traffic stop on Old State Road 37, near State Road 144, according to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office report.

The deputy smelled marijuana, and Nations told him where he would find the drug in his vehicle. The deputy found a small box and a smoking pipe inside the vehicle, and arrested Nations, the report said.

Nations entered the pretrial diversion program, where a charge will be dropped if the offender meets certain requirements. But in July, Nations failed to show for a compliance hearing, and a warrant was issued for his arrest, according to court records.

In April, Nations was arrested after a traffic stop in Greenwood.

The officer found a smoking pipe and marijuana in Nations’ pocket, and Nations also had a suspended license, according to the Greenwood Police Department report.

Nations was arrested on a charge of driving while suspended and possession of paraphernalia. That case is still pending. Nations did not show up for an initial hearing in July, court records said.

Nations also has a warrant out for his arrest in Marion County on drug and vehicle-related charges.

How to help

A tip line has been set up for the February double homicides in Delphi, Indiana, where the bodies of Abby Williams, 13, and Libby German, 14, were found near the Delphi Historic Trail on Feb. 14. If you have information on the case, call 844-459-5786.

The Daily Journal, a sister publication of The Republic, contributed to this report, along with WISH-TV in Indianapolis, a newsgathering partner of the newspapers.

Author photo
Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.