A sex offender with a lengthy criminal record in several states is suspected of threatening people with a hatchet near a bike trail in Colorado and police say he could be connected to two other unsolved cases, including the killing of a cyclist near where the hatchet threats occurred and the unsolved murders of two girls in Delphi, Indiana.
Daniel Nations, 31, is currently being held only on a weapons charge, and police have not released details about why they think he could be tied to the other cases, KCNC-TV reports. He was arrested Monday in Teller County, Colorado. The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office is still investigating him as a suspect in the threats, which occurred on a hiking trail there, according to the news station.
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office also said authorities in Indiana are looking into whether there is any connection to the deaths of Abigail Williams, 13, and Liberty German, 14, who were killed on a trail in Delphi in February 2017, KCNC reports. Police have released a photo and sketch of the killer, but the case has remained unsolved for several months, despite thousands of tips and nationwide attention.
“We are aware of the arrest of Daniel Nations and have been told by law enforcement that he is being looked into. We pray that the truth will be revealed and we will keep searching for answers and passing out fliers until Abby and Libby’s killer is behind bars.” Libby German’s grandmother, Becky Patty, told Fox 59.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Nations Became a Sex Offender After Exposing Himself to a Woman & Her Child Who Were Riding Bikes, 1 of 7 Times He’s Been Arrested for Public Indecency
Daniel Nations has been a registered sex offender since 2007 after he was convicted of indecent exposure in Beaufort, South Carolina, that year, the state’s sex offender database shows. According to a WTOC-TV report from the time of his arrest, Nations, then a Marine stationed at Parris Island, exposed himself while he was in his car in a parking lot and then again in front of a woman and her child who were riding bikes.
But police said it was not his first time being arrested for that crime. He was charged with indecent exposure four times while stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and a fifth time while in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
He served two years in prison and was ordered to register as a sex offender for life. Nations also registered as a sex offender in Florida in 2012 after moving there, according to that state’s database.
He was also convicted of public indecency in 2016 in Indiana for fondling “the genitals of the defendant or another person in a public place.” According to WRTV, Nations was found hiding in a women’s bathroom at a gas station, peeping on women and pleasuring himself.
His last known address was listed as being in Martinsville, Indiana, in Morgan County. Martinsville is about 100 miles south of Delphi. He has also lived in Greenwood, which is about the same distance away from Delphi.
The Indiana sex offender registry shows that Nations is “non-compliant,” because he has not reported his whereabouts to police.
“WANTED IN JOHNSON COUNTY FOR FAILURE TO APPEAR IN COURT AND FAILURE TO REGISTER AS A SEX OFFENDER,” the sex offender registry says.
He has also been convicted of domestic abuse in Indiana, KRDO-TV reports.
Nations is originally from Chesnee, South Carolina, and is the father of a young daughter, according to his Facebook profile. In the intro section of his profile he wrote, “my daughter is my life.” And in the about section, he said, “life…..it’s not about me… It’s about you and our daughter!” and “I hope at my heavenly appointment God will judge me by my heart and not my actions!”
In May 2016, he wrote on Facebook, “Thank you God for touching my heart and making me a better person.” He also wrote, “I am human… I have made mistakes… But I am not a bad person! I believe that God sent his son to die for us on the cross…and I love what’s left of my family…. So I wish people would stop treating me like I am scum! And if you care about me then show it don’t just say it”
In another post that same month, he wrote, “God why do some people say one thing to your face and do another when your not around…. They say they want to be in your life but when your not there they couldn’t be bothered less… I swear sometimes ppl just like to toy with your emotions just to see how you will react.”
Along with the domestic violence and public indecency convictions in Indiana, Nations has several other arrests in that state, court records show. He has a pending case for driving with a suspended license and possession of drug paraphernalia that was filed in 2017 in Greenwood City Court. He also has a pending case from 2016. He is facing charges of possession of marijuana, possession of paraphernalia and knowingly or intentionally operating a motor vehicle without ever receiving a license in that case.
He has been convicted of invasion of privacy, possession of marijuana, failure to pay child support, driving with a suspended license and operating a motor vehicle without financial responsibility.
Nations posted on Facebook that he served in the Marines, but details of his service were not immediately available. He wrote, “Marines do not know how to give up ” the chips are all in” when it comes to anything we put our minds too…. Die or die trying…. Till my last breath I will never give up.”
His wife, Katelyn, filed for divorce in April 2017, according to Indiana court records. The case is still pending. Both Katelyn and Daniel failed to appear at several hearings in the divorce case, and it appears court officials have been unable to reach them for several months. A Facebook post by his wife shows that they moved to Colorado in May to “start over.”
Nations had previously lived in a long-term hotel in Greenwood, Indiana, WLFI-TV reports. Before that, he lived in a farmhouse in Martinsville that was owned by his boss, according to the news station. The farmhouse’s owner, who did not want to be identified, told WLFI that they knew “something was not right” about Nations, and that he destroyed their property with a hatchet and ruined part of their electrical system. They contacted police several times and eventually had him removed from the property by a court order.
The former boss also told the news station that Nations had been working in Zionsville, about an hour from Delphi, for a construction company, and loved being in the woods.
2. He Admitted to Having a Hatchet in His Car When Stopped by Police, but Says He Never Threatened Anyone
Daniel Nations was stopped about 3 p.m. by police Monday in Woodland Park, Colorado, KKTV reports. The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office told the news station that the red Chevrolet Prizm with Indiana license plates was identified in several tips regarding menacing complaints in the Mount Herman area, and in the town of Monument. Police said the car was spotted after several people, including bicyclists, were threatened by a “hatchet man,” according to police.
Nations was questioned at the scene and booked into the Teller County Jail on a weapons charge at 9 p.m. According to an affidavit obtained by KRDO-TV, a woman, Katelyn Nations, and two children were also in the car. Katelyn Nations was not arrested.
Police in Woodland Park said they spotted the red Chevrolet with expired Indiana license plates and a broken taillight in an Arby’s parking lot. The officers waited until a man and a woman, later identified as Daniel and Katelyn Nations, got into the car, and then pulled it over. The officers split up the couple and questioned them, according to the affidavit.
Katelyn Nations told police she had a .22 rifle in the car’s trunk. She said she purchased it for protection after the car was broken into, according to police. Katelyn Nations also told the officers that she had broken the taillight when she hit a tree earlier Monday. Police ran her name and found she had warrants for failure to appear in court, but they were non-extraditable, so she was released.
Daniel Nations told police he had a hatchet in his car, but said he never threatened anyone with it, KRDO reports. He told police, “We’re not that kind of people,” according to the affidavit. He did say that someone had run them off the road and he shook his fist out of the car window at them. Nations also had non-extraditable failure to appear warrants, but was arrested on a charge of being a previous offender in possession of a weapon, police said.
A former employer told Fox 59 that Nations often carried around a machete, and once threatened her and her family with it when he was living with her and working on their farm in 2015.
“At first he seemed like he was a decent guy, said he was ex-military. But the more I got to know him the more I realized he wasn’t as decent as we thought he was,” Suella Ferrand told the news station.
She said Nations showed some “worrisome” behavior. “He had a really bad temper, to the point where at times it could be a little eerie,” she said. Ferrand said that her family cut ties with him before he did anything violent. “I think if given the chance he would’ve done something to one of us, but we obviously didn’t give him the chance,” she said.
3. Watkins, the Slain Bicyclist, Was Found Dead of a Gunshot Wound 3 Days After He Disappeared
Police have not yet officially said if they believe the hatchet threats Daniel Nations is suspected of are connected to the death of Tim Watkins, 60, a popular bicyclist who was found shot to death near a Mount Herman bike trail on September 17, KOAA-TV reports. He had last been seen on September 14. Police have called Watkins death a homicide, but have not named Nations as a suspect.
Watkins was heavily involved in the mountain biking community in El Paso County and had trails named after him, according to KUSA-TV. “He was such a legend in the mountain bike community,” bike designer Jeff Tessier told KCNC-TV. “You were always proud to be one of his friends because he was loved by so many people.”
His daughter, Arielle Watkins, told the Colorado Springs Gazette, “He was the most big-hearted, wonderful, caring, loving (person) on the planet. He was my best friend. He was my role model.”
Palmer Lake resident Adam Guller told the news station, “If you knew Tim, he was an incredible human being.” Guller and others are convinced police have captured their friend’s killer. “Thank God they got someone,” Guller told KCNC.
“It’s got to be the guy , it’s got to be the guy,” Palmer Lake resident Anthony Ramos told the news station.
4. The Sheriff’s Office Says There Are ‘Many Similarities’ to the Delphi Killings, but Would Not Elaborate
El Paso County Sheriff spokesman Jacque Kirby told KCNC-TV that there are “many similarities” between the cases they are investigating and the February deaths of the two teen girls in Delphi, but would not elaborate because Indiana State Police have asked them to not release other details to the public.
“They have asked us not to speak on their case. So I’m not at liberty to elaborate on anything that’s related to what happened in Indiana,” said Kirby told the news station.
Sergeant Kim Riley, a spokesman for the Indiana State Police, told WLFI-TV that they are investigating every lead brought to their attention, and the Colorado tip is no exception. He told WBBM-TV that it is too early to draw a connection between the cases:
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 everyone 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.
Abby Williams, 13, and Libby German, 14, were found dead on February 14, one day after they disappeared while hiking on abandoned railroad tracks that are part of a popular hiking trail in Delphi, Indiana. The case has been investigated as a double homicide. Police released a photo of the man they believe to be the killer taken on Libby’s cell phone before she was killed. They also released a sketch of the possible suspect. You can see those photos below:
Indiana authorities have also released a short audio clip of the suspect saying what they believe to be “down the hill.” You can listen to that clip below:
The girls, from Delphi, in Carroll County, were reported missing by their family on Monday, February 13. Abby Williams and Libby German were dropped off by family members at trails near the “Monon High Bridge” just east of their hometown of Delphi about 1 p.m. Monday, WTTV-TV reports. The middle school friends did not have class on Monday because of a snow-day built into the calendar, according to community members.
Hundreds of people, including police, firefighters, family, friends and residents of the surrounding community, searched for the girls into the night Monday and again Tuesday morning. The bodies were found about 12:15 p.m. Tuesday.
The girls posted an eerie final photo on Snapchat before they disappeared, according to WRTV.
The photo, which you can see above, was posted about 2 p.m. It was taken by Liberty German and shows Abigail Williams walking along the railroad bridge. Liberty posted it to her Snapchat account.
According to police and family members, the girls phones pinged in multiple locations but were shut off shortly after they were reported missing.
An autopsy was completed, and police confirmed Williams and German were the victims of a double homicide. Authorities have not released a cause of death, and say further testing, including toxicology reports, are still being completed.
“There is someone out there that did this crime and we’re going to track them down,” Carroll County Sheriff Tobe Leazenby told reporters in February. “Folks should continue with business as usual but be more mindful and watch your surroundings a little closer. We’re going to get to the bottom of this, we feel confident.”
Riley said in February parents should keep an eye on their children.
“I think people need to be cautious and careful,” Riley said. “Parents should make sure they know where their children are and what their children are doing, and if nothing else, know what’s going on in their lives. That’s the most important thing I can say at this point in time.”
A reward of more than $230,000 has been offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the Delphi killings. You can read more about the murders at the link below:
5. He Is Being Held at the Teller County Jail, Police Say
Nations is currently being held on $10,000 bail at the Teller County Jail, KRDO-TV reports. He was charged with possession of a weapon by a previous offender.
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office later charged Nations on September 28 with felony menacing and reckless endangerment, stemming from the alleged machete threat incidents, according to a press release. “We anticipate more charges will be forthcoming in the next few days,” the sheriff’s office said.
It is not clear if Nations has hired an attorney. He appeared in court Wednesday in Teller County and was back in court, in Cripple Creek, on Thursday, on another unrelated charge. He was wanted for false identification/false reporting stemming from an incident in July, KMGH-TV reports.
His wife, Katelyn Nations, told the Colorado Springs Gazette, “This whole situation is a shock to me and I am so embarrassed.”
His grandmother, Frona Hamm, 87, said she is his only other family. His mother is dead and his father is in prison. Hamm told the Gazette that she raised Nations from when he was 6, but she hasn’t talked to him for about five years, when she asked him and his wife to move off her property.
“I don’t know nothing about him,” Hamm said. “He hasn’t called me or nothing. I can’t get him out of trouble and even if I could I wouldn’t because he knows better.”
Anyone with information about the El Paso County cases should contact the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office at 719-390-5555.
Meanwhile, Indiana authorities and the families of the Delphi victims say they are “cautiously optimistic” that they have a break in the unsolved case.
“We’ve been high and we’ve been low so we’re, as the saying goes cautiously optimistic with this kind of information that comes into us,” Carroll County Sheriff Tobe Leazenby told WLFI-TV.
“It is still in the preliminary stage, but we are putting a lot of resources into checking out this possible connection,” Leazenby told the Herald-Journal. “There have been some similarities brought to our attention, but I cannot speak of the details. The local FBI office in Lafayette has been in contact with FBI field agents in Colorado and they are looking into the case as we speak.
“I was in Colorado last week for sheriff training and I was given the opportunity to present info about the case. I don’t know if that helped in this coincidence, but it makes you think. When I heard the news, I was like ‘wow, I was just in Colorado.’ You just never know where the next lead will come from or take you,” Leazenby told the newspaper.
“It’s so hard emotionally if you allow yourself to get wrapped up in it, even though I’m sitting here with my fingers crossed that this is the person,” Becky Patty, Liberty’s grandmother, told CBS Denver. Patty said Nations’ mugshot bears a striking resemblance to the sketch of the Delphi suspect. “My first reaction at a quick glance was ‘Well, the eyes are a little wide,’ but once I was given the pics side-by-side with the sketch … there’s a lot of similarities.”
She told the news station, “We will not stop any of that until law enforcement says we have him.”
“Anyone with information about this case, no matter how insignificant, is encouraged to call the Delphi Homicide Investigation Tip Line at (844) 459-5786. Information can also be reported by calling the Indiana State Police at (800) 382-7537, or the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department at (765) 564-2413. Information can also be emailed to Abbyandlibbytip@cacoshrf.com,” the ISP said.