FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — After a crowd of nearly 100 people including media, spectators and security waited in the courtroom for 30 minutes, a judge appeared — but not to begin the hearing.
Instead, Thursday’s hearing in Allen Superior Court for Delphi murder suspect Richard Allen was canceled, Judge Fran Gull announced to the room.
Allen was never brought into the courtroom, but he had been scheduled to appear for a status hearing in Fort Wayne at 2:00 p.m. Gull, the special judge appointed to oversee the case, told those in attendance the defense attorneys had “withdrawn their representation of Mr. Allen,” and the hearing could not continue.
Of the roughly 94 people in the courtroom — many of whom had waited since early Thursday morning for the afternoon hearing — there were three rows full of family members of 13-year-old Abby Williams and 14-year-old Libby German, the victims in the 2017 killings. The rest of the crowd consisted of media, several community members who have been following the case, and security, including about a dozen sheriff’s deputies.
Also in the room were two cameras from broadcast network Court TV, which shared the stream with the media.
There were two family members in attendance for Richard Allen — his wife and another woman. Before the hearing started, Allen’s wife was brought from the courtroom to the back hallway, and when she returned, she was visibly crying.
The state had brought in several witnesses for the hearing, including a representative from Indiana State Police. With an alleged evidence leak being investigated, that was expected to be discussed at Thursday’s hearing.
A Fort Wayne woman at the hearing told WANE 15 she finds the most recent development in the case “interesting because [the defense attorneys] know the truth.”
Another woman from Fort Wayne who has been following the case came to watch Thursday’s proceedings. Dabbing her own eyes with a tissue, the woman told WANE 15 that, after Allen’s wife came back into the courtroom in tears, “You want to hug [Allen’s wife], and then you want to hug [the victims’ families].”
The Murder Sheet podcast has been closely following the Delphi case developments on their Indiana-based podcast with journalist Áine Cain and attorney Kevin Greenlee, who both attended the status hearing.
“We thought there was going to be more of a fight from the defense rather than removing themselves from the situation,” said Cain, co-host of the Murder Sheet podcast. “They really seemed like they were advocating for a fight earlier.”
“They certainly had filings that indicated their narrative of ‘hey we wanna stay on with this client we are acting in his best interest and it wasn’t us who directly leaked’,” Cain said. “We wonder what happened between this morning and when we all sat in there and it was a 3-minute hearing.”
“I was surprised that it was so brief,” said Greenlee, the other co-host of the podcast. “I really thought the defense would put up a fight, and the fact that they did not really made me realize that they thought the cause was lost, and certainly behind the scenes that’s what we were hearing.”
“This was an incredibly serious breach that came after Judge Gull issued a protective order specifically for them to safeguard this material and they didn’t live up to that,” Greenlee said.
The next hearing is scheduled for Oct. 31 in Carroll Circuit Court where a new defense team will be appointed for Allen.
It’s the latest chapter to the ongoing seven-year saga that started when the two teenage girls were found dead in Delphi.
From multiple police sketches and multiple persons of interest to a purported Odinism cult, there have been many twists and turns throughout the case since it began in 2017.
Here is a timeline chronicling the events that led up to what would have been Thursday’s status hearing.
On Feb. 13, 2017, 13-year-old Abby Williams and 14-year-old Libby German went for a walk on a trail system in Delphi but did not return home.
When family members, community members and local authorities began searching for the two girls the next day, they were eventually found dead, which instantly sent shockwaves through the local community and eventually garnered national media attention.
At the beginning of the investigation, the FBI utilized billboards across the country to ask for information regarding the case, and Indiana State Police (ISP) had issued a $50,000 reward for information leading to the person behind the killings, which was later bumped to $200,000 through the efforts of Indianapolis Colts Owner Jim Irsay and former Colts punter Pat McAfee.
In July 2017, police released a sketch of the reported killer based on a blurry photo obtained from Libby’s phone.
Indiana State Police had also released a short audio clip from Libby’s phone shortly after the killings that appeared to record a man saying “down the hill” and nothing more.
The killings led to Delphi officials raising money to upgrade the trail system in September 2017 where the two girls were killed, including adding cameras and better lighting.
In December, the popular American talk show “Dr. Phil” aired a segment on the Delphi killings, which sparked a renewed interest in the case nine months after it started.
Despite receiving a multitude of tips and identifying multiple persons of interest in the case, authorities made little headway in the year after the Delphi killings.
Authorities also released little information to the public other than the police sketch, blurry photo and short audio recording.
In April 2019, over two years after the killings happened, authorities released new video that appeared to show a man walking on an abandoned bridge Abby and Libby visited the day they were killed.
Authorities also released an updated sketch of the supposed suspect that looked significantly different than the original sketch.
At the time, ISP Superintendent Douglas Carter said the new sketch came from “new information and intelligence” and that the original sketch had been based on eyewitness accounts.
Despite the new information, authorities still kept many significant details under wraps, such as how the girls were killed.
Following the release of the second sketch, ISP received hundreds of new tips related to the case, but authorities did not make much progress in the aftermath of the new information.
At the time, ISP said it believed the suspect was someone who either lived in Delphi or someone who used to live in Delphi and still frequented the city.
Three years after the Delphi killings, authorities still had not revealed much information to the public or made much progress in finding a suspect.
The case still garnered national attention on occasion, with Investigation Discovery airing an episode about the Delphi killings in April 2020.
In August 2020, authorities arrested Kegan Kline of Peru, Indiana, on numerous counts of child solicitation, child exploitation and possession of child porn, although his reported involvement in the Delphi killings would not come to light until 2021.
In late 2021, ISP asked the public for tips regarding a social media account named “anthony_shots” that apparently had connections to the Delphi killings, although authorities did not offer details as to how.
In March 2022, transcripts that were briefly posted on a Miami County court website revealed the connection between the Delphi killings, Kegan Kline and the “anthony_shots” social media account.
Although Kline has never been named a suspect in the Delphi killings, the transcripts reportedly showed Kline had used the fake social media account to communicate with Libby not long before she and Abby were killed.
In August 2022, a Miami County Circuit Court judge unsealed documents related to Kline and the fake social media account, which revealed additional details, including that authorities searched Kline’s home 12 days after the killings.
The investigation continued to stay close to Peru as authorities began combing the Wabash River only a few miles from Kline’s home for possible clues or evidence.
In late October, arguably the biggest bombshell of the investigation happened as ISP arrested current suspect Richard Allen and charged him with two counts of murder regarding the Delphi killings.
However, despite the apparent breakthrough in the investigation, authorities still did not release many details about the Delphi killings until nearly a year later when court documents regarding the investigation were unsealed.
As Allen’s case started to work its way through the court system, Carroll Circuit Court Judge Benjamin Diener recused himself from the case, which paved the way for the Indiana Supreme Court to eventually appoint Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull as a special judge to oversee the case.
In January, Gull ruled that the jury trial for the Delphi killings would remain in Carroll County, but she also ruled that the jury itself would come from Allen County since she said it would be “difficult, if not impossible” to find an impartial jury in Carroll County.
During a court hearing in June, Carroll County prosecutor Nick McLeland said Allen had “confessed five or six times” that he killed Abby and Libby in February 2017.
Allen’s defense attorney acknowledged “incriminating statements” made by Allen but attributed the comments to his client’s deteriorating mental state.
“He has made incriminating statements implicating himself in the crime,” said Bradley Rozzi, Allen’s defense attorney, in June.
Allen’s attorneys attributed his declining mental state to poor treatment and being treated as a “prisoner of war” at the facility Allen was housed at, leading to a request to have Allen moved to a different facility, which was denied by Gull in July.
June 2023 also became the month where the court documents regarding the Delphi killings were released, which discussed evidence found at the scene and how the two girls died.
In September, Allen’s defense attorneys again tried to have him moved to a different facility, but Allen’s defense team also presented their thoughts on how the Delphi killings happened, which involved the girls being “ritualistically sacrificed” by a cult related to Odinism.
McLeland called the defense’s Odinism claims ” a fanciful defense for social media to devour” and said the claims are not supported by evidence.
However, in a court filing from early October, Allen’s defense team said it believes investigators have reopened their investigation due to the Odinism theory.
Since mid-October, several developments happened in the Delphi case, including the alleged leak of sensitive crime scene evidence by Allen’s defense team.
Gull initially issued the order for the hearing in Allen County “to discuss the upcoming hearing on Oct. 31, 2023, and other matters which have recently arisen.”
The trial, originally scheduled for January 2024, is being rescheduled due to the canceled hearing in Allen County, and the new trial date has not yet been announced.