In February of 2017, two girls went missing from a hiking trail in Delphi, Indiana. The following day, a search party found their remains on that same trail. Since making that gruesome discovery, the details of their case have been shrouded in mystery, yet highly speculated upon.
Now that a man has finally been charged with the murders, the true crime community runs the risk of jeopardizing a meticulously-investigated case.
The Girls Went Missing On February 13, 2017
On Monday, February 13, 2017, 13-year-old Abigail “Abby” Williams and 14-year-old Liberty “Libby” German had the day off of school.
According to the official case file, the friends decided to spend the day hiking and were dropped off by a family member at 1:45 p.m. by an abandoned bridge that led into the popular trail. However, the girls didn’t return to the bridge to be picked up, and they were reported missing less than four hours later at 5:30 p.m.
Authorities immediately organized search efforts, and searchers discovered Abby and Libby’s bodies at a nearby creek bank around noon the very next day. The double homicide rocked the small town of Delphi, Indiana—which has a population of fewer than 3,000 people.
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The media coverage surrounding the case has been something of a contradiction. While the public has maintained national interest in the girls’ case, there’s been very little information to go on in the last five years.
All we have is a location, a couple of eyewitness sketches of a potential suspect, a couple of blurry photographs of the suspect, and a short video recording obtained from Libby’s phone.
However, while these pieces of evidence have generated thousands of tips, they also allude to the existence of more evidence. Yet, the public still hasn’t seen all of the footage Libby was able to capture, nor has their official cause of death been released.
Law Enforcement Has Finally Made An Arrest
This level of privacy is normal, even for such a high-profile case. The public never has the full story when it comes to active investigations.
When law enforcement seals certain details, it’s usually for a good reason. However, the breadth of evidence that law enforcement has withheld from the public in this case has confused media outlets and true crime fans alike.
That confusion came to a head earlier this month when Carroll County law enforcement made an arrest in the case. Over five years after the murders of Abby Williams and Libby German, Circuit Judge Benjamin Diener found that there was probable cause to arrest and charge Richard Matthew Allen with the crimes.
Allen, who has not been on the public’s radar until now, has pleaded not guilty to both murder charges.
Yet, instead of celebrating just yet, law enforcement has surprised the public by making a plea for patience. They’ve urged those who’ve followed the case not to jump the gun, reminding them that the case is far from closed.
Strangely, the arresting officers have even reminded the public that Allen must be presumed innocent until they have definitively proven his guilt in a court of law. They’ve also encouraged the public to keep the tips coming in, even if their information has nothing to do with Allen.
Prosecutors have even filed a motion to keep the probable cause affidavit—the document containing law enforcement’s reasoning for arresting Allen in the first place—sealed from public viewing.
The Public Questions The Investigation
There’s no doubt that Libby and Abby’s case has been highly unusual, and it seems like things are just getting stranger. Jack Crawford, a former Indiana prosecutor, has spoken out, insisting that he’s never filed a motion to seal a probable cause affidavit.
“That’s an important public document and advises the public what is going on in the case. Considering this is one of the most notorious murders in Indiana history … the public has a right to know important facts about this most serious case,” Crawford, who’s practiced criminal law for 35 years, told Fort Wayne’s 13News.
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It seems like prosecutors are trying to get as much time as they can to bolster the case against Allen before releasing any more information to the public. Even Libby German’s older sister Kelsi—who has worked tirelessly to bring awareness to the case on social media—supports the prosecution’s plea.
“All parties are innocent until proven guilty. Please do not wish harm on anyone or convict anyone before there is a trial,” German Tweeted on November 2. “At this point there has been an arrest, but the investigation is not over.”
German has even promoted a petition to keep the probable cause affidavit sealed. Right now, observers in the true crime community are being put to the test. Do true crime enthusiasts just want access to all of the gory details? Or do they truly want to see justice prevail in these tragic cases?
We’ll find out at the public hearing scheduled for November 22 where a judge will consider the prosecution’s motion to keep the records sealed.
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