DELPHI, Ind. — The murder scene police discovered late in the morning Feb. 14, 2017, on the north bank of the Deer Creek conjures up hellish images, based on the description published in accused killer Richard Allen’s memorandum filed Monday.
The memorandum in support of a hearing to suppress evidence is the first time many details about teenagers Libby German and Abby Williams’ deaths has been public. The motion and accompanying 136-page memorandum suggests that Tony Liggett, lead investigator and now Carroll County sheriff, ignored obvious suspects during the nearly six-year investigation and omitted or lied in October 2022 in order to get a warrant to search Allen’s house.
The memorandum states that the girls died from having their throats slashed — which has been rumored but has never been public — and the crime scene was staged — which has been alluded to in other filings, but not with the graphic details published Monday.
What the court documents say about the crime scene
“The scene was ghoulish,” the memorandum states on page 28. “Libby was found at the base of a tree with four tree branches of varying sizes intentionally placed in a very specific and arranged pattern on her naked body.”
“The murderers treated Abby very differently,” the memorandum states. “Abby was found just a few feet away fromLibby.”
“Abby was fully clothed,” the memorandum states. “In fact, Abby was dressed in Libby’s sweatshirt and jeans.
“No blood appeared on Abby’s clothing, meaning that she was likely murdered while naked and then dressed by the murderers after she expired and after the blood had stopped spilling from her neck,” according to the memorandum.
“The murderers appeared to have gone to great lengths to keep Abby’s body and clothing clean from blood,” according to the filing, which also notes that Libby’s body did have blood on it.
Abby also had cut tree branches placed over her body.
Libby’s body was laid out at the base of a tree near where she was killed, and her blood was used to paint a letter on the tree trunk.
Abby’s body was moved after her death and place beside Libby’s, according to the memorandum.
“At least one of the tree branches appears to have been cleanly cut by some instrument (like an electric saw) rather than split or broken by hand, indicating that this was a preconceived plan,” the memorandum states. “Above Abby’s head were smaller sticks that had been placed over her hair, crudely mimicking horns or antlers.”
The branch placement was intentional to represent Germanic letters associated with Odinism, Allen’s defense claims in the memorandum. The branches and the letter painted on the tree tie the killings to a ritual sacrifice of the ancient Norse religion, the defense claims.
All of these allegations by the defense are based on evidence disclosed in the course of trial preparations.
Who is Richard Allen?
Police arrested Richard Allen on Oct. 26, 2022, and charged him two days later with murder. His pretrial detention has been in a maximum-security Indiana prison in solitary confinement for his protection. But the memorandum and previous court filings suggests that Allen is mentally defeated by his treatment in prison. The memorandum also alleges that some of Allen’s prison guards are members of the Odinist religion and threatening to Allen and his family.
The memorandum suggests that Allen’s alleged admission to killing the girls was made under threats from Odinist guards and made to safeguard his family.
Prior to his arrest, Allen was a Delphi resident who worked at a local CVS and no apparent criminal history, according to news reports and online court records.
Allen’s arrest comes at the conclusion of nearly six years of investigation and less than a month before the election of Tony Liggett as Carroll County’s next sheriff. Liggett also was the lead investigator in the case who determined if people were suspects or not based on the information police had.
For months, Carroll County Prosecutor Nick McLeland refused to release the probable cause affidavit detailing evidence that tied Allen to the killings. When Special Judge Frances Gull ordered a redacted affidavit public, it revealed that tool markings on an unfired bullet found at the scene appear to have been made by Allen’s pistol.
The affidavit also alleges that witnesses saw Allen on the trail, wearing muddy and bloody clothes, and that his car was seen parked at the old Child Protection Services building near the trails.
The memorandum points to the descriptions of the car do not match Allen’s Ford Focus, and that the witness who saw a man on the trail reported his clothes appeared muddy, not bloody. That was added by law enforcement, according to the memorandum.
Neither of the eyewitnesses’ descriptions match Allen, according to the memorandum.
Allen told police he arrived at the trails about noon and left about 1:30 p.m. Libby’s recording of the man telling the girls “down the hill” was made at 2:13 p.m., according to the memorandum.
More than one killer at the scene?
Allen’s defense team goes into graphic details about the scene to lay out its hypothesis that Allen, who is not associated with Odinism, did not kill the girls. Instead, the memorandum suggests up to five possible suspects with ties to Odinism might be behind the killings.
The memorandum suggests that one person could not have confined both teenagers, killed both girls, staged the scene and left in the timeline suggested by police and prosecutors.
“Once he and the girls arrived at the murder scene, this single, solitary person then somehow would have had to subdue either Abby or Libby in rope or some other restraining device in order to have the ability to kill the unsubdued child without fear that the other child would run away or scream,” the memorandum states.
A single killer would have to kill one of the girls then the other, then gather up the branches and twigs for the staging of the scene, according to the memorandum.
If only one person, allegedly Allen, killed the girls, he then had to lay out Libby’s body, which was near where she was killed.
The single killer theory, according Allen’s attorney, then required the one man to redress Abby in Libby clothes, including putting Libby and Abby’s bra on Abby’s body. The single killer than staged Abby’s body without getting the clothes dirty or wet, according to the memorandum.
“One man, 5 foot 4 inches in stature, handled all these tasks?” the memorandum asks.
“All these things occurred between seventeen minutes and one hour and seventeen minutes after the girls heard the phrase “down the hill” at approximately 2:13 pm. Again, not plausible,” the memorandum states.
If not Richard Allen, then who?
One self-confessed Odinist who lives in Logansport admitted he frequently went to Delphi for Odinism worship services at a friend’s house, according to the memorandum. That self-confessed Odinist said he never met the girls, but his then teenage son dated Abby, according to Allen’s defense.
This Logansport Odinist had a falling out with his fellow Odinist who lived in Delphi. That happened sometime in February 2017, according to the defense’s memorandum.
“(He) told her (the Odinist in Delphi) and ‘his crew’ was responsible for the murders of the ‘girls in Delphi’ and a fire that killed two girls,” the memorandum states, quoting a report on Odinism and suggesting that the cult also is tied to the Flora fire that killed four girls. “I asked her if she knew of the fires in Flora that killed four girls. …
“She said (the Logansport Odinist) told her that (the Delphi Odinist) and ‘his crew’ had friends in several statesand that they have no problem killing ‘race traders,’ ” the report state, as per Allen’s defense memorandum. “I asked her to clarify ‘race trader’ and she said she believed it meant white people who ‘mix’ with other races.”
None of this prompted a closer look into Odinism, the Logansport man or the Delphi man, both of whom were dismissed as suspects, according to the memorandum.
Police officers in Rushville investigated two Odinist want-to-be members and discovered possible ties to the Delphi killing, according to the memorandum. One of the want-to-be suspects has the mental capacity of a child, according to the memorandum.
“I am in a lot of trouble,” the man told his sister in October 2017, according to Allen’s defense. “I am going away for a long time.
“I was on that trail and that bridge with those girls when they were murdered,” the man told his sister, according to Allen’s memorandum. “There were two other people there with me when it happened. I spit on one of the girls (after they were killed).”
There were more details that only someone at the scene would know that the man revealed to his sister, according to the memorandum.
“(He) told (his sister) Abigail is a little troublemaker, that he placed leaves on her and used sticks to give her horns,” according to Allen’s defense.
The man’s sisters passed a polygraph test on the matter, yet he was not investigated in depth despite his alleged statements, according to Allen’s memorandum.
When police collected his DNA from the possible suspect, the man asked, “If my spit is found on the girls, but I can explain it away would I still be in trouble?”
Despite the two Rushville Odinist want-to-be members lack of convincing alibis and suspicious statements, investigators did not follow up and they were eliminated as suspects, according to the memorandum.
Witnesses describe suspect with poofy hair
Two witnesses told police they saw a man they believe might be the killer on the Delphi trails and the Monon High Bridge, but their descriptions are dissimilar, as are the descriptions of the car police say in an affidavit is Allen’s Ford Focus.
One witness told police four days after seeing the man on the bridge that he was youthful and slim with poofy hair, according to the memorandum.
“Ligget heard (the witness’) description of a much younger man with brown poofy hair but chose to conceal this information from (Carroll Circuit) Judge (Benjamin) Diener,” the memorandum argues of the omission which might have got the October 2022 search warrant denied. “(The witness’) description of a youthful, boyish looking person in his twenties, maybe early thirties with brown poofy hair, obviously, does not at all describe Richard Allen.”
“Liggett had a legal obligation to inform Judge Diener of the vast differences between (the eye witness’) description of the man she observed on the bridge, and Richard Allen. He did not. That fact alone should be sufficient to merit tossing the warrant and suppressing the fruits of an illegal search,” the memorandum states.
Liggett also maintains that the sketches released two years apart are of the same man — Richard Allen, according to the memorandum.
Allen’s attorneys through the motion and supported by the memorandum asks for a Franks hearing, which is a hearing to assess whether law enforcement was truthful in getting a warrant and collecting evidence.
“Part of the Franks analysis involves the Court reviewing the behavior of law enforcement to determine whether Liggett intentionally concealed and falsified evidence in Liggett’s Affidavit for Search Warrant,” the memorandum states. “Liggett and (Indiana State Police investigator Jerry) Holeman and the rest of Unified Command’s reaction to the information contained in the polygraph examination, concerning sticks formed into horns on Abby’s head, may very well reveal whether Liggett is interested in the truth, or in burying the truth. Which again, is part of the Franks analysis.”
Allen’s attorneys also filed Monday a motion to move Allen out of the state prison and to a county jail.
McLeland has not yet filed a rebuttal to Allen’s motions for a Franks hearing or the memorandum.
Gull has not set a hearing date on Allen’s petition.
Reach Ron Wilkins at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter: @RonWilkins2.
This article originally appeared on Lafayette Journal & Courier: Delphi murders: Document details ‘ritualistic’ crime scene, suspects
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