Delphi murders crime scene photo leak threatens to derail the case

‘The Murder Sheet’ podcasters – journalist Áine Cain and attorney Kevin Greenlee – speak to Rachel Sharp about the ‘catastrophic’ leak

Friday 20 October 2023 17:19 BST
Richard Allen escorted out of court
Richard Allen escorted out of court (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

A leak of crime scene photos from the Delphi murders case has threatened to derail the trial of accused killer Richard Allen.

Graphic photos of the scene where teenage best friends Libby German and Abby Williams were found brutally murdered in February 2017 have been circulating among members of a social media community, according to The Murder Sheet podcast.

The leak allegedly originated from a man close to the defence team representing Mr Allen – the 51-year-old local man now charged with the murders.

Now, in a bombshell twist, Mr Allen’s attorneys Andrew Baldwin and Bradley Rozzi have quit the case amid the scandal – throwing the trial and wider case into turmoil.

A brief court hearing was held in Allen County, Indiana, on Thursday 19 October, where Special Judge Fran Gull was set to preside over several matters including the leak of the images.

Within minutes of the hearing starting, the judge said that Mr Allen’s attorneys had both withdrawn from the case, leaving the accused killer without legal representation.

“We’ve had an unexpected turn of events, ladies and gentlemen,” said Judge Gull.

“Earlier this afternoon, the defence attorneys have withdrawn their representation of Mr Allen.”

Mr Baldwin made an oral motion to withdraw from the case, while Mr Rozzi will be submitting a written motion to withdraw.

The hearing was adjourned and Mr Allen was returned to the state prison where he has been held for almost a year since his October 2022 arrest. A hearing slated for 31 October is still expected to go ahead.

Now, with no legal team representing Mr Allen in the high-profile case, it seems inevitable that his trial will be delayed from its start date of 8 January 2024 – once again delaying any possible semblance of justice or closure for the families of Libby and Abby.

Back in early October, a photo had circulated on social media showing a tree with what was claimed to be markings etched with Libby’s blood. These photos have not been verified.

Libby German (left) and Abby Williams (right) pictured together
Libby German (left) and Abby Williams (right) pictured together (Facebook)

Speaking to The Independent ahead of the court hearing, The Murder Sheet podcasters – journalist Áine Cain and attorney Kevin Greenlee said that days later, on the morning of 5 October, a source sent them a “number of graphic crime scene pictures and other images that are part of the discovery in the case”.

“We were very disturbed by what we saw,” said Ms Cain.

“The discovery is under a protective order by the court so that it can’t be leaked or disseminated in any way. So it’s not only disturbing to see these images but it’s disturbing in terms of what it means for the case.”

Describing what they saw as a “catastrophic” leak, Mr Greenlee voiced concerns for quite how far the leak of evidence might have spread.

“It’s hard to speculate how far this could have progressed if the leak had not been stopped as what’s the next step after leaking crime scene photos? Autopsy reports? That information just doesn’t need to be out there,” said Mr Greenlee.

“As well as the impact on Abby and Libby’s families this leak also represents a threat to the rights of the accused man Richard Allen... He has a right to a fair trial.”

Not knowing where the leak originated from, they said that they contacted both Mr Allen’s attorneys and law enforcement to report the leak.

After that, they learned that the photos had been shared with the source by an individual allegedly connected to Mr Allen’s attorneys Andrew Baldwin and Bradley Rozzi.

The man was a close friend of Mr Baldwin and previously worked as an employee at his law firm, the podcasters said.

However, he had never worked on the Delphi case and left the firm years ago.

The individual died by suicide last week after a police investigation into the leak was launched.

Ms Cain said that they had seen no evidence that Mr Baldwin and Mr Rozzi were directly responsible for the leak.

“In what we saw, we didn’t see direct evidence implicating attorneys Andrew Baldwin and Bradley Rozz in the leak,” she said.

However, depending on the judge’s decision on the attorneys’ involvement in the matter, the repercussions of the leak had the potential to be huge.

“The judge has a lot of latitude in how she responds to this,” said Mr Greenlee, an attorney.

Makeshift memorial to Abby and Libby
Makeshift memorial to Abby and Libby (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

“She can give a reprimand – a scolding, don’t do this again... there can be contempt of court charges, or there could be the removal of one or both attorneys in the case. The gamet ranged from something rather minor to a major sanction so it’s hard to know what she will do.”

The Independent reached out to Mr Allen’s attorneys, the Carroll County Prosecutor’s Office and Indiana State Police for comment. Both Mr Allen’s attorneys and ISP declined to comment as expected as officials involved in the case are subject to a gag order.

Last week, Judge Gull announced the hearing for 19 October, saying that it would be to “discuss the upcoming hearing on October 31, 2023, and other matters which have recently arisen”.

Mr Allen was expected to appear in court – where several matters were on the table – and he was transported from the prison to the courthouse in Allen County on the morning of 19 October.

But, minutes after the hearing was due to start, the judge entered the courtroom and revealed that the defence had withdrawn.

Now, the scheduled trial date of 8 January 2024 will almost certainly be delayed, as the married father-of-two will need to be assigned a new set of public defenders to represent him.

“I don’t believe counsel will be prepared within the next couple of months to try a case of this magnitude this January,” said the judge.

As Mr Greenlee said ahead of the hearing: “One thing the defence has been making a point of is the huge amount of discovery received from prosecutors for example the multiple hard rives, thumb drives and the like.

“So if you think how long it would take a new defence team to go through all of that, likely leading to a lengthy delay and that would result in a delay for the families getting justice.

“And Richard Allen is innocent until proven guilty so a delay will also mean the longer he is held in prison. It’s a no-win situation.”

This marks the latest twist in the tragic case which shook the tight-knit Delphi community for more than five years before an arrest was finally made last year.

Flowers at the Monon High Bridge in memory of Libby and Abby
Flowers at the Monon High Bridge in memory of Libby and Abby (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

It began on 13 February 2017 when Libby and Abby set off on a walk along the Monon High Bridge 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 – found on Libby’s phone following their murders – 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.

In October 2022 – over five years later – Mr Allen was arrested and charged with their murders.

Following his arrest, the case has continued to be fraught with controversies, with Mr Allen’s attorneys claiming that the suspect is being treated poorly as he is held behind bars.

But, as Ms Cain pointed out, a leak of sensitive evidence is the most “serious situation we’ve seen so far”.

“This case has a rabid online social media following which is helpful in keeping the spotlight on it but it can be detrimental as well in this case,” she said, referring to the leak of the images in the social media community.

“This could be an opportunity for the judge to lay down the law and say ‘this madness needs to stop’.”

In one of the latest twists, Mr Allen’s attorneys made the bombshell claim last month that Libby and Abby were killed – not by the suspect – but as part of a “ritualistic sacrifice” at the hands of a white nationalist cult called Odinists.

“Members of a pagan Norse religion, called Odinism, hijacked by white nationalists,ritualistically sacrificed Abigail Williams and Liberty German,” state the documents, seen by The Independent.

The bombshell 135-page document detailed how Libby and Abby’s bodies had both been staged with tree branches and sticks across their bodies in the shape of pagan symbols, the documents state – which “resembled possible Odinism signatures left behind at the crime scene”.

They also revealed never-before-known details about how Libby and Abby died.

Richard Allen pictured in mugshot after arrest for Delphi murders
Richard Allen pictured in mugshot after arrest for Delphi murders (Indiana State Police)

The teenage best friends both had their necks slashed, the documents reveal.

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” and blood spots and drippings all over her body.

Abby meanwhile was fully clothed, including in Libby’s sweatshirt and jeans, the documents state.

There was no blood on her clothing, indicating that she was likely murdered while naked and then dressed after she was killed. Tree branches and sticks had also been arranged on her body, the documents state.

Both victims appeared to have been moved and positioned after they were murdered.

Libby’s blood had also been used as paint to mark a tree with a rune that looks similar to the letter “F” – a rune known to be associated with the pagan religious cult Odinism.

According to Mr Allen’s attorneys, law enforcement officials had explored possible links between the killings early on in the investigation – but then quickly “abandoned” the theory.

They claim the state failed to hand over this information until this September.

The defence even took the extraordinary step of naming four apparent Odinites as potential suspects in the killings.

While his legal team has maintained that he is innocent of any involvement, Indiana investigators have said that they believe Mr Allen may not have acted alone.

According to prosecutors, Mr Allen – a local man who served the victims’ families in his job at the Delphi CVS store – is the so-called “bridge guy” captured on camera by the victims.

The criminal affidavit previously revealed that he wa finally tied to the February 2017 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 last October and both he and his wife Kathy told police he was the only person with access to it, the documents state.

The documents also revealed 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.

Libby German posted a Snapchat as the girls walked along the trail
Libby German posted a Snapchat as the girls walked along the trail (Snapchat)

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.

As well as the ballistics evidence, 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 affidavit previously revealed.

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”.

Since his arrest, Mr Allen has confessed to the 2017 murders multiple times behind bars – including in a jailhouse phone call with his wife, dramatic court documents revealed back in June.

While prosecutors say that the accused killer admitted “several times” that he carried out the brutal murders, Mr Allen’s attorneys claim that his confession cannot be believed due to his current mental state.

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