Suspect in 2017 Delphi murder of 2 girls appears in court for status hearing

Richard Allen's court hearing four months ahead of his jury trial, scheduled for January 2024

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Editor's note: The video in this story is from an earlier report.

The man accused of killing two young girls in Delphi, Indiana in 2017 is expected to appear before a judge Thursday for a status hearing.

Richard Allen will appear in a Fort Wayne court room at 1 p.m. CT, WTHR reports. During the hearing, Judge Francis Gull will address both the defense and prosecution ahead of Allen's jury trial, slated for Jan. 8, 2024, the report said.

NBC Chicago will stream the hearing in the player above once it begins.

Below are the latest updates.

Court Docs: Killings part of 'ritual sacrifice'

Court documents revealed horrifying new claims in the killings of two young girls in Delphi, Indiana, alleging the possibility that their deaths were actually part of a "ritualistic sacrifice."

The new allegations were made in court filings by attorneys representing Richard Allen, the man charged with killing 13-year-old Abigail Williams and 14-year-old Liberty German in 2017, which asserted the girls died in a "ritualistic sacrifice" by white nationalists who practice a Norse pagan religion and said their client was not involved.

The girls were killed after a relative dropped them off at a hiking trail near the Monon High Bridge just outside their hometown of Delphi, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) northwest of Indianapolis. Their bodies were found the next day in a rugged, heavily wooded area near the trail.

Allen has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The killings have haunted Delphi, a city of about 3,000 where Allen lived and worked at a drug store.

Defense attorneys Andrew J. Baldwin and Bradley A. Rozzi revealed the shocking new claims in a 136-page memorandum, obtained by USA Today, which they said supports Allen's request for a hearing to contest the validity of a search warrant. The filing asserted that several white nationalists practicing the religion Odinism "ritualistically sacrificed" the girls, and nothing linked Allen to Odinism or any religious cult.

Odinisim, according to the Anti-Defamation League, is a term frequently given to a racist variant of the Norse pagan religion known as Asatru -- a religious sect that attempts to revive ancient Norse religious beliefs and practices of pre-Christian Europe. 

Evidence found at the crime scene consisted of symbols in the form of runes made up of sticks and fashioned with tree branches, which defense attorneys said were obvious signatures left behind by Odinites.

The Carroll County prosecutor’s office didn’t immediately reply to a Monday phone message seeking comment about the defense’s claims.

According to the filings, detectives previously obtained information that connected two groups of men who practiced Odinism to the murders, one in or near Delphi and another that lived in Rushville. Writing in the court documents, defense attorneys stated that a letter regarding the possible connection between the killings and the group practicing Odinisim in Rushville was withheld by the prosecution. The attorneys accused prosecutors, as well as multiple law enforcement officers, from hiding information about the Odinist connections to the murders, the documents revealed.

What happened on Feb. 14, 2017

The two girls were found dead near the Monon High Bridge on Feb. 14, 2017. An autopsy showed that they had been stabbed.

In a search warrant request in March 2017, an FBI agent claimed the girls’ bodies appeared to have been “moved and staged” at the crime scene.

Allen, 52, a drugstore worker who had been living in the same small community where the teens resided, was arrested on murder charges in October 2022. Insisting their client is innocent, the defense attorneys stated that it wasn't plausible that one person was responsible for the murders of Libby and Abby, listing 92 reasons in support of their claim.

Early on in the investigation, authorities consulted with a Purdue University professor concerning what resembled possible Odinism signatures left behind at the crime scene, the defense attorneys wrote. But that angle was "essentially abandoned" after the professor told law enforcement "it was not Odinism or any type of cult worshipping or any type of group that would have conducted the crime," as stated in the filing.

According to the memorandum, as of Sept. 7, the investigators claim they can't identify who the purported professor is, have no reports from the purported professor and have indicated they may never be able to figure out who the person is.

Authorities failed to "arrest or even properly investigate" multiple "obvious suspects" who had connections to Odinism, attorneys stated in the documents.

"Yet, law enforcement in charge of the Delphi investigation seemingly, and quickly, abandoned the obvious correlation between the crime scene and Odinism, despite an obscene amount of evidence linking Odinism to the crime scene, and even in spite of powerful evidence linking specific Odinites in and around Indiana to the murders," the attorneys stated in the filings.

The defense claimed in the memorandum that the Carroll County Sheriff lied about evidence to obtain a search warrant at Allen's property and asked the judge to deem the search warrant "illegal" and to suppress what was obtained when it was executed.

Defense attorneys said no forensics, including DNA, and no electronic data extracted from computers or phones or from social media linked Richard Allen to the crime scene. Furthermore, he had no connection to the Odinist suspects, according to court documents.

"Richard Allen had nothing to do with this crime, but rather is an innocent man; a patsy for the police, arrested 26 days before an election," the attorneys asserted.

Allen's trial is scheduled for January 2024.

NBC Chicago/The Associated Press
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