By Karen Morfitt
MONUMENT, Colo. (CBS4) – A man arrested near Colorado Springs could be involved in a double murder case in Indiana in February that captured the world’s attention.
One of the victims snapped a grainy image of a man that police have been looking for since the crime. Investigators now want to know if the same man was picked up in El Paso County earlier this week after reports surfaced of someone threatening several bike riders with a hatchet.
Daniel Nations was arrested on a weapons charge on Monday. He’s a registered sex offender out of South Carolina who has been living in Indiana.
El Paso County officials were asked not to comment on the Indiana case and Indiana police will only say they investigate every piece of information that comes in.
For Becky Patty, the grandmother of Liberty “Libby” German — of one of the teens killed — new leads means new hope.
“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,” Patty said.
The body of German, 14, was found along with her friend Abby Williams on a trail in Delphi, Indiana.
Police found the grainy image along with audio clips of a man believed to be connected on German’s phone.
People in the area around the time of the murders helped build a composite sketch of a possible suspect — who bares a striking resemblance to Nations.
“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,” Patty said.
Nations was arrested while driving a car that matched the description given in several tips of a man menacing people in the Monument/Mount Herman area with a hatchet. It’s the same area where cyclist Tim Watkins was found shot to death just a week earlier.
Arrest papers show the car he was in with his wife and two children, and the car had expired Indiana plates.
Inside, police found a hatchet and a .22 caliber rifle.
El Paso Sheriff’s office spokesperson Jacqueline Kirby said Nations hasn’t been charged in either of those cases.
“The charges he was arrested on are Woodland Park Police Department charges and that is possession of a weapon by a previous offender,” Kirby said.
Nations is a registered sex offender and has numerous arrests ranging from assault and battery to domestic violence. His last known address is less than 100 miles from Delphi.
While Patty says it gives them a glimmer of hope, she’s not quite ready to end the search for the killer.
“We will not stop any of that until law enforcement says we have him,” Patty said.
State police in Indiana say they have gotten thousands of photos of people that look like the sketch. Right now, they say there’s nothing that definitively connects this person to their investigation.
Nations is being held on a $10,000 bond.
Karen Morfitt joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around the Denver metro area. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.