The man charged with murder in the 2017 deaths of two teenage girls in Delphi, Indiana, appeared in court Friday, where a judge ruled the high-profile case will be tried in the county but a jury pool will be selected from another area.
Richard M. Allen, 50, of Delphi, was arrested Oct. 31, marking an explosive break in the case that that gripped the nation, and piqued the interest of online crime sleuths, for five years.
He was charged with murder in the deaths of Abigail “Abby” Williams, 13, and Liberty “Libby” German, 14, whose bodies were found in the woods near the Delphi Historic Trail. He has pleaded not guilty.
There’s been a flurry of interest in the case regarding what motivated the teens’ killings, and why it took so long to name a suspect.
Judge Frances C. Gull issued a gag order in December, after Allen’s lawyers shared a press release defending his name. The order barred those involved in the case, family members and police from releasing information to the public.
On Friday, Gull ruled that gag order will stay in place, John McGauley, Court Executive of Allen County said.
Gull also ruled that the trial will not be moved to another county, but instead a jury pool from another county can be selected. The decision comes after Allen’s attorneys had asked for a change of venue citing the “extensive media attention” of the case that could block the chances of an untainted jury pool.
“I think it is important to try here,” Gull said on the location for the trial, NBC affiliate WTHR of Indianapolis reported.
Gull gave the prosecution and defense one week to agree on a county to elect a jury from and bring it to Carroll County.
Trial dates haven’t been set yet and will be discussed in February. A bail hearing is set for Feb. 17.
The girls disappeared on Feb. 13, 2017. They were dropped off at an abandoned rail bridge in Delphi, their hometown about 60 miles northwest of Indianapolis, to hang out police said. But when it was time to be picked up from the area, they never showed.
Their bodies were found the next day in woods area near the Delphi Historic Trail, a half-mile upstream from the bridge.
Officials said a bullet found near the bodies of the teens had been linked to a .40-caliber pistol owned by Allen, court documents revealed.
In the investigation, police released grainy photos of a person walking on an old railroad bridge the girls visited with audio of a man’s voice saying “down the hill.” The footage came from Liberty’s cellphone.
Investigators believe that Allen is the man in the victim’s video, according to the affidavit, and that he was seen in the area by at least three other witnesses they interviewed who described a man dressed similarly to the one in the video.