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,The Murder Sheet podcast revealed this week.
In a bombshell twist, it emerged that 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Now, Mr Allen’s attorneys Andrew Baldwin and Bradley Rozzi have withdrawn from the case – throwing the trial into disarray.
A brief court hearing was held in Allen County, Indiana, on Thursday, 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Within minutes of the hearing starting, the judge said that Mr Allen’s attorneys had both withdrawn from the case, leaving the accused killer without legal representation.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“Earlier this afternoon, the defence attorneys have withdrawn their representation of Mr Allen.”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 scheduled trial date of 8 January 2024 will now 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.
The hearing was adjourned and he 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.
The dramatic turn of events – only the latest twist in a case that has rocked the small town of Delphi and shocked America for the past six years – began back in early October when a photo 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.
Days later, The Murder Sheet podcasters – journalist Áine Cain and attorney Kevin Greenlee – told The Independent in an interview earlier this week 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.”
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. “That being said, it’s a serious beach and we imagine the court will address it.”
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”.
Had the attorneys not withdrawn themselves, the judge could have dismissed them anyway over the matter. Alternatively, the judge could have simply reprimanded them or charged them with contempt of court.
The high-profile case is subject to a gag order, making the leak of the evidence all the more significant – besides the ethical impact on the victims’ families and Mr Allen’s right to a fair trial.
“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,” Mr Greenlee told The Independent earlier this week.
“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.”
This marks the latest twist in the tragic case which left the teenage victims’ families desperately searching for answers for years before an arrest was finally made in October 2022.
It began back 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.
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 2017murders 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.
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.