Delphi, Indiana, police have been notoriously tight-lipped about the killings of 14-year-old Libby German and 13-year-old Abby Williams since the first news conference after the girls were found dead in February 2017. Even after the arrest of a suspect on Oct. 26, police have declined to answer most questions about the case, saying they don’t want to jeopardize the prosecution.
But this week, a judge unsealed the probable cause affidavit for the arrest of Richard Allen. Its Nov. 29 release clarified that the 50-year-old was accused of two counts of murder in the commission of a felony and finally allowed the public to learn key details that investigators had not revealed over the course of more than five years. (Allen has pleaded not guilty to the charges, and his attorneys said in a statement that he has “nothing to hide.”)
Three days later, that same judge issued a gag order, barring prosecutors, defense attorneys, the coroner, and family members, among others, from commenting on the case publicly or to the media in any form — including posting on social media. The order will remain in place until at least Jan. 13, 2023, when the next hearing on the case will be held.
From witness accounts placing Allen at the scene, including statements from Allen himself, to grisly details about the crime scene, here’s what we’ve learned about the case — and what we still don’t know.
Allen said — five years ago — that he was in the same place, at roughly the same time, that the girls were last seen.
According to the probable cause affidavit, Allen, a longtime resident of Delphi, told a law enforcement officer in 2017 that he was on the trails between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 13. Specifically, he said he walked on the Monon High Bridge, the abandoned railroad trestle where Libby German filmed a man telling the girls, “Guys, down the hill,” at 2:13 p.m. The affidavit includes several previously undisclosed details about the video: 1) As the man approaches them, one of the girls says “gun.” 2) The man says “Guys, down the hill” near the end of the footage, which authorities previously said was filmed just before the girls were killed. 3) “The girls then begin to proceed down the hill and the video ends.”
The affidavit says Allen himself in 2017 corroborated the statements of witnesses, a group of three girls who saw him on the trail between the two bridges on Feb. 13. (After the affidavit was unsealed, his defense lawyers also confirmed that Allen was there.) One of the girls said that he “just glared at them” when she said “hi,” and that he was “walking with a purpose like he knew where he was going,” and “had his hands in his pockets and kept his head down,” the affidavit says. That girl or another (their names are redacted) described him as “kind of creepy.”
Allen’s clothing that day is consistent with how witnesses described the man on the bridge.
The witnesses’ descriptions of the man’s clothes aren’t exactly the same, but most mention him wearing jeans and a jacket, walking with a hood up. Just before his arrest, Allen allegedly told police he had been wearing blue jeans and a blue or black hooded Carhartt jacket on the day of the killings; his wife said he still owned a blue Carhartt jacket. He also allegedly said he may have been wearing some kind of head covering as well.
A “muddy and bloody man” was spotted at 4 p.m. walking near the crime scene.
A woman driving on a street that parallels the Monon High Bridge trail said she saw a man who was “muddy and bloody,” wearing a blue jacket and blue jeans, walking toward her on the road, according to the affidavit. The direction he was walking was away from the crime scene and toward the abandoned building where Allen allegedly indicated he had parked. She said it looked like the man had been in a fight. Video of her car passing the Hoosier Harvestore, an agriculture company, narrows the time she would have seen him to 3:57 p.m.
An unspent bullet found between the girls’ bodies allegedly matches a gun owned by Allen.
The Indiana State Police Laboratory performed an analysis on Allen’s Sig Sauer Model P226 pistol and determined that an unspent .40-caliber round located within 2 feet of Libby’s body — and between both victims — “had been cycled through” Allen’s gun. Allen told police that he had never allowed anyone to use or borrow the gun, which investigators confirmed he had purchased in 2001. “When asked about the unspent bullet, he did not have an explanation of why the bullet was found between the bodies of [the victims]. He again admitted that he was on the trail but denied knowing Abby or Libby and denied any involvement in their murders.”
Police also found knives and other firearms when they executed a search warrant of Allen’s Delphi residence.
Aerial view of the Monon High Bridge Trail in Delphi, Indiana, where Abby Williams and Libby German were last seen on Feb. 13, 2017, and near where their bodies were found the next day, November 1, 2022 (Nexstar — WXIN, Indianapolis)
Police confirmed the victims’ clothes were found in a creek.
According to the police affidavit, Libby and Abby were “forced down the hill and lead to the location where they were murdered.” Search volunteers found the girls’ bodies in a densely wooded area at about 12:15 p.m. on Feb. 14, 2017. They were on the north side of Deer Creek, a stream that snakes underneath the Monon High Bridge.
The probable cause affidavit says their clothes were found in the creek, south of their bodies. (A local photographer previously said he’d seen girls’ clothing in the creek near the bridge.)
What we still don’t know
The girls’ cause of death remains unreleased, though an FBI agent noted in a March 2017 search warrant that the victims had lost a “large amount of blood” and because of the “nature of [their] wounds, it is nearly certain the perpetrator of the crime would have gotten blood on his person/clothing”; they had “had no visible signs of a struggle or fight”; and their wounds were “caused by a [redacted] weapon.” (The document has not been publicly released, but the Murder Sheet podcast obtained a copy and published it in May.)
The search warrant’s mention of a “[redacted] weapon” has led to speculation that the girls may have been stabbed. Police descriptions of stabbings sometimes use language such as “bladed” or “edged” weapons — both words that would seem to fit the length of the redaction. And if the victims had been shot, wouldn’t the newly unsealed police affidavit mention evidence related to fired bullets in addition to the single unspent round located near Libby’s body?
That investigators found their clothes in the creek also raises questions that are not addressed in the affidavit. Were they sexually assaulted?
The biggest question, of course, is why it took police five years to “encounter” Allen’s 2017 police statement, which proved key to his arrest. Who found the statement, and under what circumstances? In a Dec. 1 statement to Fox 59, the FBI disputed reports that the years’ delay was the result of a “clerical error” by an FBI civilian employee. “As stated in the past this is a complex multi-agency investigation. The implication that an alleged clerical error by an FBI employee caused years of delay in identifying this defendant is misleading. Our review of the matter shows FBI employees correctly followed established procedures.” So who is to blame?
Why did Allen volunteer the information that he was in the same location as the apparent killer around the same time? According to a press release issued by his defense attorneys on Dec. 1, “Rick volunteered to meet with a Conservation Officer outside of the local grocery store to offer up details of his trip to the trail on the day in question.”
Why would a “conservation officer” — commonly known as a game warden and usually tasked with enforcing laws related to the conservation of natural resources — take Allen’s statement? Why would they meet outside a grocery store? And if true, why didn’t police disclose these details in their probable cause affidavit or news conference announcing his arrest?
Allen’s defense team also asked a question posed by many since the probable cause affidavit was released: Why did the prosecutor say in a Nov. 22 hearing that authorities “have a good reason to believe” that Allen is not the only person involved in the killings — when no one else was mentioned in the probable cause affidavit or the news conference announcing Allen’s arrest?
Why did police wait more than two years to release Libby’s video of the suspect? Why did they originally release truncated audio, without including the word “guys,” which provided valuable context that the man was ordering the girls to go to the location they were killed? Why haven’t police said publicly that one of the girls said “gun” in the video, and that the footage ends with the girls going down the hill? Why did they release two completely different composite sketches of a suspect, whom they said were two different men? Was Allen identified as a suspect because of one or both of the sketches?
Why did the original judge, Benjamin A. Diener, recuse himself from the case on Nov. 3? (In an extraordinary court order he decried the public fascination with the case, saying, “The public’s blood lust for information, before it exists, is extremely dangerous. ALL PUBLIC SERVANTS administering this action do not feel safe and are not protected.”)
How reliable is the police analysis allegedly tying the bullet found at the crime scene to Allen’s gun? His attorneys are already disputing the science behind it. “We anticipate a vigorous legal and factual challenge to any claims by the prosecution as to the reliability of its conclusions concerning the single magic bullet,” they said.
Idaho Student Killings Update
It has been more than three weeks since four college students were brutally stabbed to death in their home in Moscow, Idaho, and police — like those in Delphi — have revealed few details about their investigation. More than once, they’ve had to issue clarifications to their own statements; people are still debating what the description of it as a “targeted” attack means exactly; tiny details about the 911 call and the surviving roommates have been shared in a piecemeal fashion; and police were forced to issue press releases to clarify contradictory statements made by their own prosecutor.
Meanwhile, frustrated family members are dominating headlines with new interviews. Here are a handful of things they’ve said, which have not been confirmed by police:
Kaylee Goncalves and Maddie Mogen were sleeping in the same bed when they were killed. Speaking at a campus vigil on Nov. 30, Kaylee’s father, Steven Goncalves, said the best friends from childhood chose to attend the same college and share an apartment. “And in the end, they died together, in the same room, in the same bed … the beauty of the two always being together comforts us.”
Xana Kernodle fought back. On Nov. 17, her father, Jeffrey Kernodle, told 3TV in Phoenix that the autopsy showed “Bruises, torn by the knife. She’s a tough kid. Whatever she wanted to do, she could do it."
Kaylee’s injuries were much worse than Maddie’s. Their “means of death don’t match,” Steven Goncalves said on Fox News’ Lawrence Jones Cross Country on Dec. 3. "Their points of damage don't match.” He seemed to suggest that he had the right to share this detail, which he said “wasn't leaked” to him. “I earned that. I paid for that funeral. … I sent my daughter to college. She came back in a box, and I can speak on that."
Kaylee and Maddie might have been initial targets. Steven Goncalves joined Fox News again on Dec. 4, saying on Fox & Friends that, assuming the killer entered through the sliding door on the middle floor (where Xana and her boyfriend, Ethan Chapin, were sleeping), “his entry and exit are available without having to go upstairs or downstairs. Looks like he probably may have not gone downstairs” (where the surviving roommates lived). “We don't know that for sure, but he obviously went upstairs. So I'm using logic that he chose to go up there [to Maddie and Kaylee’s rooms] when he didn't have to."
At least one victim’s family believes the students were targeted. Xana Kernolde’s mom, Cara Denise Northington, told NewsNation's Ashleigh Banfield on Dec. 2, “I do not think it was the house that was targeted. I believe wholeheartedly that it was those kids who were targeted. … They did everything together. How could it not have been a planned thing?” She also said that police “haven't said anything” to her: “I learn more on the news and on TV than they have said to me,” she said. “We need more answers.”
Kaylee’s dog was “found in a room where the crimes had not been committed,” and “there was no indication the animal had entered the crime scene.” This new detail was confirmed and vetted by police — they shared it in a press release on Dec. 5.
Police acknowledged the families’ frustration in this latest press release — and also noted the dangers to the prosecution that releasing information prematurely could cause:
“There have been statements and speculation about this case, victim injuries, cause of death, evidence collection and processing, and investigative techniques. With the active criminal investigation, law enforcement has not released additional facts to the family or the public. We recognize the frustration this causes and that speculation proliferates in the absence of facts. However, we firmly believe speculation and unvetted information is a disservice to the victims, their families, and our community. The Moscow Police Department is committed to providing information whenever possible but not at the expense of compromising the investigation and prosecution.”
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