The man charged with the 2017 Delphi murders was spotted mouthing “I love you” to two women in court as he lost his bid to move his double homicide trial out of the local area where he has allegedly spent the past six years hiding in plain sight, evading justice for the brutal killings.
Richard Allen, a 50-year-old local CVS worker, was led into Carroll Circuit Court in shackles on Friday morning – his first court appearance in two months on charges of murdering teenage best friends Libby German and Abby Williams in 2017.
Dressed in a yellow jumpsuit and protective vest, Mr Allen entered the courtroom after the defence table had been swept for security reasons given the high-profile nature of the case, according to Fox59.
When two unidentified women arrived in court, Mr Allen – a married man with an adult daughter – was seen mouthing “I love you” to them. His wife and daughter have remained silent publicly since his arrest.
At the brief hearing, Judge Fran Gull made a series of key decisions about his upcoming trial after hearing arguments on four issues: a gag order on the case, a change of venue, a discovery request from Mr Allen’s attorneys and additional funding for investigators.
Much of the arguments took place behind closed doors, with the defence and prosecution speaking to the judge in her chambers for some time before the 10-minute hearing got under way.
The judge denied a request from Mr Allen’s attorneys asking for the trial to be moved out of Carroll County, ruling that it would stay in the area but that a jury would be brought in from another county.
In court filings, Mr Allen’s legal team had asked for a change of venue to move the trial out of the small close-knit town of Delphi where the victims and the suspect lived.
The defence had argued that the “extensive media attention” surrounding the high-profile case meant it would be difficult for him to get a fair trial in Carroll County. Instead they wanted it to be moved at least 150 miles away.
Judge Gull agreed that it would be “difficult if not impossible” to find jurors in Carroll County who were not involved in the case to some extent, but she said it would cost too much to hold the trial elsewhere.
While ruling that the trial must stay put, she did give the prosecution and the defence one week to decide together which county the jury will be bused in from and sequestered for the duration of the trial.
In the hearing, the judge also ruled that a gag order should be upheld banning anyone associated with the case from speaking out about it.
The gag applies to anyone linked to the case, including Mr Allen, his defence attorneys, prosecutors, family members of both the suspect and the victims, as well as court staff and law enforcement, barring them speaking about the high-profile case to the public.
The prosecution had requested the gag order in early-December after Mr Allen’s attorneys released a three-page press release, claiming the 50-year-old’s arrest was driven by the political motives of prosecutors. At the time, the gag order was only preliminary but it has now been upheld throughout the case.
Judge Gull also ordered the prosecution and the defence to keep cooperating over the discovery of evidence, after the two sides clashed over what should be shared in the case.
In a motion filed in late-December, the defence asked the judge to order the prosecution to hand over a vast trove of information about the case, including names and addresses of all witnesses involved – as well as of individuals who may have knowledge of the case but are not being called as prosecution witnesses. Prosecutors had argued that they had already made clear what they would be happy to share.
A fourth and final ruling was made by the judge behind closed doors, around the defence’s request for additional funding to pay for investigators in the case.
Mr Allen cannot afford to pay for legal representation and the associated expenses without this additional support, his attorneys say.
Mr Allen’s attorneys have also requested a bail hearing but that did not take place on Friday. The suspect will instead return to court on 17 February where the judge will weigh that decision.
He has been held without bond ever since he was arrested and charged with murder in late October.
His trial has been scheduled for 23 March but Judge Gull indicated that this is likely to be moved back due to the “thousands upon thousands” of pages of “extraordinary, voluminous evidence” in the case.
Friday’s court appearance comes almost six years on from the brutal murders of Libby, 14, and Abby, 13, who went out one day together and never returned.
On 13 February 2017, the two best friends set off on a hike along the Monon High Bridge Trail in their hometown of Delphi.
During the walk, Libby posted a photo of her best friend on Snapchat as they walked along the Monon High Bridge.
Minutes later, Libby captured a video of a man – known as “bridge guy” – dressed in blue jeans, a blue jacket and a cap walking along the abandoned railroad bridge. In the footage, the man tells the two girls: “Guys, down the hill.”
Later that day, the teenagers were reported missing when they failed to return to a spot where a family member was picking them up.
The next day – Valentine’s Day 2017 – their bodies were discovered in a wooded area less than half a mile off the trail along the side of Deer Creek. Their cause of death has never been released with a previously-released search warrant application only detailing that they were killed with some type of weapon and lost a lot of blood.
For more than five years, the girls’ devastated families waited for answers in the case.
Then, in late October 2022, Mr Allen – a local man who served the victims’ families in his job at the Delphi CVS store – was arrested and charged with their murders.
According to investigators, Mr Allen is the so-called “bridge guy” captured on camera by the victims.
The suspect forced the two victims down the hill and led them to the location where they were murdered, according to his probable cause affidavit.
The affidavit, which was partly-redacted and released in November, reveals that he was tied to the brutal murders through a bullet found at the bloody crime scene.
Ballistics confirmed that an unspent .40 caliber round found close to the bodies of the teenage victims came from Mr Allen’s Sig Sauer Model P226.
The firearm – which he owned since 2011 – was found during a search of his home and both he and his wife Kathy told police he was the only person with access to it.
The bombshell document reveals that, in Libby’s cellphone footage, one of the victims mentions the word “gun” – suggesting that their attacker was armed with a firearm and was using it to coerce the victims.
In a police interview on 13 October, Mr Allen told investigators he had “no explanation” as to how the spent bullet ended up near the bodies of the two teenage victims, the document states.
The accused killer said he had “not been on the 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,” it says. The property owner – Ron Logan – was also previously tied to the case. He died in 2020.
Mr Allen was also tied to the killings after his vehicle was spotted parked close to the trail in “an odd manner” as if to “conceal the license plate”, the documents state.
Several witnesses also reported seeing a “creepy” man matching the description of “bridge guy” around the time of the murders while one person said they saw a “muddy and bloody” man leaving the trail around two hours after Libby and Abby were last seen alive. The witnesses did not see anyone other than “bridge guy” on the trail at the time, the affidavit reads.
The married father to a daughter had been on law enforcement’s radar back in 2017 after he admitted to being on the trail the day the girls were killed.
During a 2017 interview with police, Mr Allen confessed to being on the Monon High Bridge Trail that afternoon but denied any involvement in the murders and insisted he had never seen the two girls that day.
Despite placing himself at the scene of the crime at the time of the murders, he slipped through the net due to a “clerical error”.
The sudden arrest of the local man almost six years on from the murders marked a major break in the case.
But the investigation is far from over with officials saying that they believe Mr Allen may not be the sole person involved in the killings.
Prior to Mr Allen’s arrest, investigators had been searching for information about a catfishing account which was in contact with Libby on the day she was killed.
The man behind the account – Kegan Anthony Kline – was tied to the 2017 murders in December 2021 when investigators urged the public to come forward with information about a bogus online profile named @anthony_shots.
Kline, 28, allegedly confessed to using the fake profile to groom underage girls, get them to send him nude photos and their addresses, and try to get them to meet him in person.
In a 2020 police interview, a transcript of which has been seen by The Independent, Kline admitted that he had communicated with 14-year-old Libby on Instagram and Snapchat through the catfishing profile before she died.
The transcript revealed that he had exchanged photos with the teenage girl and that Libby had communicated with the fake profile on the very day that she and Abby were murdered.
On 25 February 2017 - less than two weeks after the two girls were brutally killed – police carried out a search of Kline’s home in Peru. Kline has never been charged in connection to the murders.
In 2020, he was arrested and charged with 30 child sexual abuse and child exploitation felonies over the @anthony_shots account. He has been held behind bars ever since.
While the affidavit made no mention of the catfishing account, investigators urged the public to continue submitting tips about the case following Mr Allen’s arrest and have said that they are not ruling out the possibility that other individuals may also have been involved in the teenagers’ brutal murders.