The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Suspect Richard Allen arrested in 2017 killings of 2 teens in Indiana

Becky Patty and her husband, Mike Patty, speak during a news conference in 2017 about updates on the investigation of Liberty German's and Abigail Williams's deaths. The Pattys are grandparents of Libby German. (J. Kyle Keener/AP)
4 min

Police announced on Monday that a suspect has been arrested in the killings of two teenagers that rocked a small town in Indiana more than five years ago.

Authorities said that Richard M. Allen, 50, of Delphi, Ind., was taken into custody last week and charged with two counts of murder Friday in the killings of Liberty German, 14, and Abigail Williams, 13, whose bodies were found in 2017.

Allen pleaded not guilty in a preliminary hearing, Carroll County Prosecutor Nicholas McLeland said in a news conference Monday. Allen is being held at the White County jail without bond and has hearing dates scheduled for January and March 2023.

Officials did not discuss the timeline of events or evidence that led to Allen’s arrest, saying only that a judge determined that there was probable cause. It was unclear Monday whether Allen has an attorney.

The probable cause affidavit and charging information were sealed by court order, McLeland said, to protect the ongoing investigation.

“The time will come when additional details can be released, but again today is not that day,” Indiana State Police Superintendent Douglas Carter said. “It’s about Abby and Libby, their families and this community.”

The arrest has been long awaited by the families of Liberty and Abigail, as well as for the community of Delphi, which has kept a close eye on the investigation. The teens lived in the tiny town about 70 miles northwest of Indianapolis. Delphi has a park dedicated to the teens, called the Abby and Libby Memorial Park, honoring their love for sports and the outdoors.

For years, Becky Patty, Liberty’s grandmother, has posted a photo on Facebook every day in memory of the girls, usually with the words “Today is the day” in the image. Those four words have been used by family and community members to keep attention on the case as it remained unsolved.

“Now I sit here not needing to do it because at long last we have a face to go with our monster,” Patty wrote Saturday in a Facebook post.

On Feb. 13, 2017, the two friends had gone for a hike on the Delphi Historic Trails and were reported missing by their families when they did not return home that afternoon. The next day, volunteers from the community formed a search party, and found the girls’ bodies in a wooded area near the trail.

But police did not disclose the cause of death at the time, saying only that the case was a double homicide investigation — and the girls’ autopsies have remained under seal.

Police have released a new clue in the deaths of two girls — a chilling recording of three words

Days after the bodies were found, Indiana State Police released a photo of a man they suspected was involved in the killings. The photo, which was recovered from Liberty’s cellphone, showed a man who authorities said was walking on the Delphi Historic Trails and might have “participated in the murders,” according to a news release.

Another chilling detail recovered from Liberty’s phone emerged about a week after the girls were found — a recording of what might have been the killer’s voice. In the audio, police announced, a male voice appears to say “Down the hill.” Officials offered a download of the audio and asked anyone who recognized the voice to send in a tip.

“This young lady is a hero, there’s no doubt,” Indiana State Police Sgt. Tony Slocum said at the time, referring to Liberty. “To have enough presence of mind to activate that video system on her cellphone, to record what we believe is criminal behavior that’s about to occur.”

In an effort to help the public recognize whom they were looking for, Indiana State Police in July 2017 released a composite sketch of what they thought the killer looked like.

Nearly two years passed before authorities released a second composite sketch in April 2019, this one in stark contrast to the first, which they said “more accurately” depicted the killer, the Indianapolis Star reported.

On Sunday, Patty posted a photo of Liberty near a pool, a beach towel tied around her like a cape with the caption: “Fitting.”

After Monday’s news conference, Kelsi German, Liberty’s sister, said in a tweet: “Oct. 28th was the day.”

Sarah Larimer contributed to this report.