Indiana police announced the arrest of a suspect Monday in the 2017 killings of two teenage girls in Delphi, Indiana, a case that has puzzled the community and online crime sleuths for years.
Richard M. Allen, 50, of Delphi, was arrested on two counts of murder in the February 2017 deaths of Abigail “Abby” Williams, 13, and Liberty “Libby” German, 14, Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter announced Monday.
“Today is not a day to celebrate,” Carter said, noting the arrest is “a major step in leading to a conclusion in this long term and complex investigation.”
Williams and German vanished while hiking in their hometown of Delphi, about 60 miles northwest of Indianapolis.
Liberty German and Abigail Williams. via NBC5 Chicago
They were dropped off at an abandoned rail bridge on Feb. 13, 2017, to walk around and hang out, according to police. But when it was time to be picked up from the area, they never showed.
Their bodies were found Feb. 14, 2017, in a wooded area near the Delphi Historic Trail, a half mile upstream from the bridge.
On Wednesday Oct. 26, detectives with the Delphi Double Homicide Task Force took Allen into custody and he was formally charged with two counts of murder on Friday, Indiana State Police said in a release. He is currently being held without bond at White County Jail.
Charging documents sealed
Carter said limited details will be released on the arrest to protect the integrity of the case and investigation. Officials did not explain what evidence led them to arrest Allen.
He explained the probable cause affidavit and charging documents have been temporarily sealed as “this investigation is far from complete.”
“Since the murders of Abby and Libby 2,086 days ago, the daily investigative team has worked tirelessly and is certainly worthy of mention today,” Carter said Monday.
Officials said in the news conference that Allen had his initial hearing and entered a preliminary not guilty plea. A pre-trial date is set for Jan. 13, 2023, and a trial date is slated for March 20, 2023.
“Per the court order we cannot talk about the evidence in the probable cause or the charging information,” Carroll County Prosecutor Nicholas McLeland said. “Right now is not that day. Today is about Abby and Libby, focusing on them.”
McLeland did not answer questions about how long Allen has been a suspect.
Allen was CVS employee who didn’t charge Libby’s family for photo processing
Following the news conference, the grandparents of Libby German revealed to reporters that Allen worked at a local CVS where he processed photos for Libby’s family.
Becky Patty, Libby’s grandmother, nodded when asked about reports that Allen had processed photos for the family at the store and didn’t charge them for it. She said, “That is accurate,” without going into further detail.
CVS acknowledged Allen was an employee in a statement Monday saying: “We are shocked and saddened to learn that one of our store employees was arrested as a suspect in these crimes. We stand ready to cooperate with the police investigation in any way we can.”
“As members of the Carroll County community, we remain devastated by these murders and our hearts go out to the German and Williams families.”
Libby’s grandfather Mike Patty said when the family heard the charges read out, “it was kind of bittersweet.”
“I just know that there’s another job, another hill for us to climb ahead of us, But we’re up for the challenge, and we’re gonna keep after it. We’re not gonna stop,” he said.
When asked if he had any words for the suspect, Patty said: “No, I’ll save that for when I see him face to face.”
For years police worked to find the girls’ killer and previously said the assailant may have had close connections to Delphi, a city of about 3,000 people.
Carter said back in 2019 he believed the suspect was “hiding in plain sight.”
Police previously released two sketches of a suspect.
They also released grainy photos of a person walking on an old railroad bridge the girls visited on their hiking trip with audio of a male saying, “Down the hill” taken from Liberty’s cellphone.
The photo appeared to depict a white male wearing blue jeans, a blue coat/jacket, and a hoodie, who police said was believed to be a suspect in the homicides.
Marlene Lenthang is a breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital.