An Indiana Judge concerned about his family’s safety has recused himself from presiding over the Delphi murder case.
Carroll County Judge Benjamin Diener blamed the public’s ‘blood lust’ and morbid interest in the case for his decision. Mr Diener had initially said his court could not keep up with a storm of requests for 50-year-old Richard Allen’s probable cause of arrest, which was sealed following an appeal from the prosecution.
Mr Allen, a Delphi local, was taken into custody on 26 October and booked into Carroll County Jail. Two days later, he was charged with two counts of murder in the 2017 slayings of teenage best friends Libby German and Abby Williams in the city 20 minutes from Lafayette.
On Thursday, Judge Diener said concerns about videos circulating online with the faces of his family members had prompted him to recuse himself from the high-profile case. A special judge in Allen County is now expected to take over the proceedings, local news station 13WTHR reported.
It comes after Carroll County Sheriff Tobe Leazenby filed a motion saying his department cannot provide the supervision to jail Mr Allen due to safety concerns for the suspect fueled by “extensive coverage from an array of various media platforms, both mainstream and social, throughout this state, the United States, and the world.”
Mr Leazenby filed the request to have Mr Allen’s custody transferred to the Indiana Department of Correction, which was approved by Judge Diener on Thursday.
Mr Diener agreed that Mr Allen “is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death, or represents substantial threat to the safety of others,” according to filings obtained by the Daily Beast. “This FINDING is not predicated on any acts or alleged acts of [Mr Allen], since arrest, rather a toxic and harmful insistence on ‘public information’ about [Mr Allen] and this case.”
He added: “The public’s blood lust for information, before it exists, is extremely dangerous.”
Mr Allen has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is said to be refusing to cooperate with the investigation.
It is not clear what information has led to Mr Allen’s arrest now, more than five years on from the 2017 murders, and a probable cause of arrest was sealed by Judge Diener at least until 26 November after prosecutors requested so.
Among the few concrete details shared during a press conference on Monday, authorities confirmed that a pretrial hearing was set on 13 January 2023. Meanwhile, a trial date was scheduled for 20 March.
However, after mounting requests from the media, some details such as the case number and upcoming court dates, have been released. It was also revealed that Mr Allen’s bond was initially set at $20m following his arrest, before he was denied bail, WTHR reported.
The probable cause for arrest remains sealed and a hearing on 22 November will determine if that will continue to be the case.
“From a PR standpoint, I am concerned that there is a sealed case with no cause number available (or known publicly), no PC, and no public hearing date to determine if the record should be sealed,” Indiana Supreme Court Chief Public Information Officer Kathryn Dolan had told WTHR.
“I do suggest the court be clear with procedural information on what is public and when or why (according to the rule) it is not public.”
More details are expected to be revealed in the case that has captured international attention for years.
Mr Allen, a married man and worker at a CVS, was initially booked into Carroll County Jail following his arrest. He was eventually moved to a state facility, reportedly for his own safety.
State Police confirmed the arrest and announced the charges on Monday, a bombshell development in the case that has rocked the small, close-knit community of Delphi and had gone unsolved for more than half a decade.
Officials did not rule out the possibility that other individuals were also involved in the teenagers’ brutal murders and, if so, vowed that they will also face charges.
Libby and Abby went missing on 13 February 2017 after they set off on a hike along the Monon High Bridge Trail in Delphi, Indiana. Their bodies were discovered the next day in a wooded area around half a mile off the trail.
For years, police have refused to say how the girls died and have revealed few details about the crime scene. However, shocking new details about the murders came to light in a search warrant application obtained by podcast The Murder Sheet and shared with The Independent back in May.
The warrant, filed by an FBI agent investigating the murders back in 2017 and partly redacted, was to carry out a search on the home of a local man Ronald Logan.
In it, the agent revealed that the girls had lost “a lot” of blood during their deaths and that their killer is believed to have moved and staged their bodies, before taking some sort of souvenir from the scene. For the first time, the warrant also revealed that the teenagers had been killed by some type of weapon.
The word for the weapon was redacted in the document.
The murderer would have been covered in the victims’ blood in the aftermath of the slayings due to the “large amount of blood was lost by the victims at the crime scene”, it reads.