A long-awaited, long-fought-for, yet redacted copy of a probable cause in Indiana’s Delphi Murders case has been released.
The eight-page document, which was made public on Tuesday, contains the working law enforcement timeline of the deaths of twin murders of Abigail “Abby” Williams, 13, and her friend Liberty “Libby” German, 14. The girls vanished while walking the Monon High Bridge Trail near Delphi, Indiana, on Feb. 13, 2017. The trail traverses an abandoned stretch of what once was the Monon Railroad and crosses an old trestle which is key to the understanding of the case. The girls were found dead the next day.
The affidavit contains only a few new threads of information to allege that Richard Matthew Allen was involved in the killings. Allen is charged with Indiana’s version of a felony murder in connection with the girls’ deaths.
Law&Crime has obtained only the first seven pages of what professes to be an eight-page document. Some names have been whited out — or redacted — from the paperwork in question.
Notably, the document asserts that an unspent bullet found “less than two feet away” from the victims’ bodies had been passed through Allen’s gun. That assessment, according to the affidavit, was based on “extraction marks” observed on the bullet. But the science used to make that connection has been met with considerable controversy in some courts of law.
The document does not explain how Williams or German died, and it does not contain the results of any laboratory analyses or testing beyond that pertaining to the bullet allegedly tied to Allen.
The document also says one of the victims said “gun” in a now-infamous video that shows a man believed to be Allen ordering both of the girls “down the hill” on the day they vanished. Only a short portion of what has been purported to be a much longer recording has been released in an attempt to help identify the man visible on it.
Both of the girls were found dead about two-tenths of a mile northeast of the old Monon Railroad bridge and on the north side of Deer Creek on Feb. 14, 2017, the document asserts. That’s the day after they vanished.
The girls “were dropped off across from the Mears Farm at 1:49 p.m.” on Feb. 13, the affidavit states. The above recording occurred at 2:13 p.m., and the local constabulary has long asserted that it was made by Libby German in an attempt to capture her abductor, killer, or someone relevant to the case.
The affidavit describes the recording in these terms; German is Victim 2, while Williams is Victim 1:
The video recovered from Victim 2’s phone shows Victim 1 walking southeast on the Monon High Bridge while a male subject wearing a dark jacket and jeans walks behind her. As the male subject approaches Victim 1 and Victim 2, one of the victims mentions, “gun”. Near the end of the video a male is seen and heard telling the girls, “Guys, Down the hill.” The girls then proceed down the hill and the video ends. A still photograph taken from the video and the “Guys, Down the hill” audio was subsequently released to the public to assist investigators in identifying the male.
“Clothes were found in the Deer Creek belonging to” both of of the girls “south of where their bodies were located,” the affidavit alleges. “There was also a .40 caliber unspent round less than two feet away from Victim 2’s body, between Victim 1 and Victim 2’s bodies. The round was unspent and had extraction marks on it.”
Several others who were in the area at the same time told the authorities they they encountered a “kind of creepy” male who “glared at them” when they tried to say “hi.” One said the man “was walking with a purpose like he knew where he was going” but kept his hands in his pockets and his head down.
One witness reported seeing a small SUV or PT Cruiser-style vehicle parked in an “odd manner” near an old Child Protective Services building near the trail. The vehicle was “odd” because it was “backed in near the building,” the affidavit states, citing the witness whose name does not appear in the document. The witness assumed it was backed in near the building so “as to conceal the license plate.”
The document explains the comings and goings of various vehicles as captured by a video camera at a nearby Hoosier Harvestore. However, it is hard to track the movements of the vehicles in the available copy of the affidavit because blanks exist in the document where the owners of the vehicles are named. The witnesses are not named as “Witness-1,” “Suspect-1,” etc., the way they might be in a federal court document — they’re presumably named and whited out in the public copy.
But one witness did see something suspicious, according to the document: a man with mud and blood on his clothes. The document explains:
Investigators spoke with [redacted], who stated that she was traveling East on 300 North on February 13th, 2022 and observed a male subject walking west, on the North side of 300 North, away from the Monon High Bridge. [Redacted] advised that the male subject was wearing a blue colored jacket and blue jeans and was muddy and bloody. She further stated, that it appeared he had gotten into a fight. Investigators were able to determine from watching the video from the Hoosier Havestore that [redacted] was traveling on CR 300 north at approximately 3:57 p.m.
Presumably, then, the witness saw the suspect at 3:57 p.m., or approximately an hour and 45 minutes after Libby German’s video was recorded.
Several “other people on the trail that day after 2:13 p.m.” were interviewed by law enforcement but did not report seeing the suspect or the victims.
The document explains that “an officer” interviewed Allen in 2017. That portion of the document states:
Mr. Allen was on the trail between 1330-1530 [1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.]. He parked at the old Farm Bureau building and walked to the new Freedom Bridge. While at the Freedom Bridge he saw three females. He noted one was taller and had brown or black hair. He did not remember description nor did he speak with them. He walked from the Freedom Bridge to the High Bridge. He did not see anybody, although he stated he was watching a stock ticker on his phone as he walked. He stated there were vehicles parked at the High Bridge trial head, however did not pay attention to them. He did not take any photos or video.
The document later states that Allen was likely referring to the former CPS building because there was not a Farm Bureau building in the area.
The document then makes a logical leap defense attorneys might have been able to exploit but for Allen’s subsequent statements to the police:
Investigators discovered Richard Allen owned two vehicles in 2017 — a 2016 black Ford Focus and a 2006 gray Ford 500. Investigators observed a vehicle that resembled Allen’s 2016 Ford Focus on the Hoosier Harvestore video at 1:27 p.m. traveling westbound on CR 300 North in front of the Hoosier Harvestore, which coincided with his statement that he arrived around 1:30 p.m. at the trails. Investigators note witnesses described the vehicle parked at the former Chile Protective Services Building as a PT Cruiser, small SUV, or “Smart” car. Investigators believe those descriptions are similar in nature to a 2016 Ford Focus.
In a subsequent Oct. 13, 2022 interview, the affidavit says Allen again admitted to the authorities that he was on the trail on Feb. 13, 2017. He allegedly said he walked out onto the bridge to watch fish in the stream below. He said he walked to the “first platform on the bridge,” “walked back, sat on a bench on the trail and then left,” the document goes on. He also allegedly admitted he “parked his car on the side of an old building.”
Allen next allegedly admitted he was wearing clothing similar to that observed by witnesses and in Libby German’s video: “blue jeans and a blue or black Carhartt jacket with a hood” and “some type of head covering.”
Authorities seized “jackets, boots, knives and firearms, including a Sig Sauer, Model P226, .40 caliber pistol.”
A lab analysis “determined,” according to the affidavit, “the unspent round located within two feet of Victim 2’s body had been cycled through Richard M. Allen’s Sig Sauer Model P226.”
The document admits that the comparison is “subjective in nature,” and some courts have strictly limited its use because it is far from an exact science and — importantly — because its reliability is not known.
In a subsequent Oct. 26, 2022 interview, the affidavit says Allen again admitted being on the trail on the relevant day in question. He allegedly said no one had used or borrowed his gun and could not provide an explanation for the unspent bullet. He also allegedly denied any involvement with the murders.
According to the affidavit, that authorities concluded that Allen was the only adult male in the area the day the two girls vanished and that “his own admissions” make him the prime culprit. The document asserts that Allen admitted being on the trail during the relevant time frame in question, admitted wearing clothes similar to those worn by the man recorded by Libby German, and admitting parking where others saw a car allegedly similar to Allen’s Focus.
“A male subject matching Richard Allen’s description was not see on the trail after 2:13 p.m.,” the document goes on to allege. “Investigators identified other individuals on the trails or C.R. 300 North between 2:30 p.m. and 4:11 p.m. None of those individuals saw a male subject matching the description of Richard Allen on the trail.”
“Investigators believe Richard Allen was not seen on the trail after 2:13 p.m. because he was in the woods with Victim 1 and Victim 2,” it further asserts. “An unspent .40 caliber round between the bodies of Victim 1 and Victim 2, was forensically determined to have been cycled through Richard Allen’s Sig Sauer Model P226. The Sig Sauer Model P226 was found at Richard Allen’s residence and he admitted to owning it. Investigators were able to determine that he had owned it since 2001.”
“Richard Allen stated he had not been on that property where the unspent round was found, that he did not know the property owner, and that he had no explanation as to why a round cycled through his firearm would be at that location,” the document continues, again laying most of its case on the strength — or perhaps the weakness — of the forensics. “Furthermore, he stated that he never allowed anyone to use or borrow the Sig Sauer Model P226. Investigators believe that after the victims were murdered, Richard Allen returned to his vehicle by walking down CR 300 North. Investigators believe he was seen by [redacted] walking back to his vehicle on CR 300 north, with clothes that were muddy and bloody.”
It also quibbles with the numbers: Allen allegedly said he recalled seeing three girls on the trail; four witnesses were allegedly present — plus, apparently, the two victims.
Time stamps on several photos taken by at least one of the witnesses corroborated their times on the trail, the document states.
Allen’s defense attorneys have roundly criticized the document as woefully incomplete given the notoriety of the case.
“It may be weird for defense lawyers, I suppose, to be arguing that we want things unsealed, but that’s how confident we are in our client,” said Allen attorney Andrew J. Baldwin after a hearing on Nov. 22. “That’s how confident we are that the evidence contained, at least what’s written in the probable cause affidavit, is nothing for us to worry about. We don’t know what other evidence is out there, but we’re confident that whatever is out there is not going to be enough to show that our client did anything here.”
Baldwin, who represents Allen along with Brad Rozzi, said Allen is “confused” and “bewildered” about the charges against him.
Baldwin repeated several times that Allen has professed his innocence to his attorneys.
However, prosecutors have said the case is “very solid.”
The full probable cause affidavit is available here.
[Images of the victims via the FBI. Image of the suspect via a mugshot.]
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