Suspect Charged in Delphi Murders

delphi-murders-update.jpg - Credit: Michael Conroy/AP
delphi-murders-update.jpg - Credit: Michael Conroy/AP

Nearly six years after two girls were found dead on a hiking trail in Delphi, Indiana, authorities there announced on Monday they’d apprehended a suspect in their murders. Richard M. Allen, 50, also from Delphi, was arrested on Wednesday, and charged on Friday with the murders of Liberty “Libby” German, 14, and her friend Abigail Williams, 13.

Libby and Abigail, both eighth-graders, disappeared Feb. 13, 2017, while on a hike near an abandoned railroad bridge during a school vacation. The girls’ bodies were found the next day, but their murders remained unsolved until now.

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The case captured international attention, in part because one of the girls had recorded a cell phone video of a man whom authorities believed to be the killer. He could be seen walking behind the girls in one clip released by police. In another, he could be heard saying “down the hill.” That phrase became the title of a popular HLN true crime podcast that covered the case — Down the Hill: The Delphi Murders. Some of the victims’ family members embraced the media attention, working to keep the girls’ case in the news. Libby’s grandparents wrote an open letter in 2021, asking the public to keep talking about the case, and Libby’s older sister, Kelsi German, spoke about it on a panel at a recent CrimeCon. Last year, the reward offered for information leading to an arrest grew to $300,000. On Friday, Oct. 21, Kelsi tweeted, “Today is the day.” On Monday she wrote, “We got him. October 28th was the day,” with a picture of Allen in custody and a press release about his arrest.

At a press conference announcing the arrest and charges, authorities thanked the state, local, and federal agencies who helped in the investigation, as well as the people who offered tips. Law enforcement refused to comment on any evidence in the case, however, and did not say whether they believed Allen was the man captured in the cell phone video. They also said that the probable cause affidavit for Allen’s arrest and charging documents were sealed and unavailable to the public for the time being. County Prosecutor Nicholas McLeland acknowledged the move to withhold this information was “unusual” but said the integrity of the case relied upon it. “I want to have an opportunity to explain the evidence, and not have that be tarnished or tainted,” McLeland said. He added that there will be a public hearing at some point to determine whether those documents will remain sealed.

Authorities refused to answer questions about what led them to Allen, when he became a suspect, or whether they believed anyone else was involved, but they said they were leaving the tip lines open and solicited further information from the public on Allen and possible other suspects. “We haven’t closed the door on the investigation,” McLeland said. “That’s why we keep the tip line and the email open. We’re not presuming anything at this point, but we’re going to continue to take tips, continue to take any information anybody has, and, as we’ve done with all the information we’ve gathered, we’re going to look at that and examine that and see where it leads us.”

Allen has appeared before a judge and entered an initial plea of not guilty. He is being held without bond. He will appear in court for a pretrial hearing in January, and a trial is currently scheduled for March of 2023. It was not immediately apparent whether Allen has an attorney. Indiana court records show he has a history of traffic arrests, including for reckless driving, and he was found guilty of drunk driving on two occasions.

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