A sex offender 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 threats were reported just days after a bicyclist, Tim Watkins, was shot and killed in the same area, on Mt. Herman Road. Nations has not been charged in Watkins’ death.
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.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Nations 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.
2. Watkins Was Found Dead of a Gunshot Wound 3 Days After He Disappeared
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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.
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.
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3. 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.
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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. Riley did not comment further.
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:
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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. “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 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.”
You can read more about the murders at the link below:
4. Nations, Convicted of Indecent Exposure in South Carolina, Is Listed as a ‘Non-Compliant’ Sex Offender in Indiana
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. Details of that conviction were not immediately available. 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. But 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.
5. He Is Being Held at the Teller County Jail & Other Charges Are Pending, 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.
Police told KCNC-TV that other charges are pending.
It is not clear if Nations has hired an attorney. It is also not known when he is scheduled to appear in court.