An Indiana judge, concerned for his family’s safety, has recused himself from presiding over the Delphi murder case.
Carroll County Judge Benjamin Diener blamed his decision on “bloodlust” and a morbid public interest in the case. Diener initially said his court could not respond to a barrage of requests for probable cause for the arrest of 50-year-old Richard Allen, which was sealed after a prosecutor’s appeal.
Mr. Allen, a native of Delphi, was taken into custody on Oct. 26 and booked into the Carroll County Jail. Two days later, he was charged with two counts of murder in the 2017 slayings of teenage best friends Libby German and Abby Williams in the town 20 minutes from Lafayette.
On Thursday, Judge Diener said concerns about videos circulating online of his family members’ faces prompted him to recuse himself from the high-profile case. A special judge in Allen County is now expected to take over the process, local news station 13WTHR reported.
It comes after Carroll County Sheriff Tobe Leazenby filed a motion saying his department cannot provide oversight for Mr. Allen’s jailing because of safety concerns for the suspect fueled by “extensive coverage from a number of different media platforms information, both mainstream and social, throughout this state. , the United States and the world.”
Mr. Leazenby filed a motion to transfer Mr. Allen’s custody to the Indiana Department of Corrections, which was approved by Judge Diener on Thursday.
Mr. Diener agreed that Mr. Allen “poses an imminent risk of serious bodily injury or death or poses a significant threat to the safety of others,” according to records obtained by the Daily Beast. “This FINDING is not based on any acts or alleged acts [Mr Allen]since the arrest, rather a toxic and harmful insistence on “public information” about it [Mr Allen] and this case”.
He added: “The public’s bloodlust for information, before it exists, is extremely dangerous.”
Mr Allen has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is said to be refusing to co-operate with the investigation.
It is unclear what information led to Mr. Allen’s arrest now, more than five years after the 2017 murders, and a probable cause arrest warrant was sealed by Judge Diener until at least Nov. 26 after prosecutors requested it.
Among the few specific details shared during a press conference Monday, authorities confirmed that a pretrial hearing was set for Jan. 13, 2023. Meanwhile, a trial date was scheduled for March 20.
However, following increasing requests from the media, some details such as the case number and upcoming court dates, have been made public. It was also revealed that Mr. Allen’s bond was initially set at $20 million after his arrest, before he was denied bail, WTHR reported.
The probable cause for the arrest remains sealed, and a Nov. 22 hearing will determine whether that remains in effect.
“From a public relations perspective, I am concerned that there is a sealed case with no cause number available (or publicly known), no computer, and no public hearing date to determine if the record should be sealed,” said Indiana Supreme Court Public Information Chief Officer Kathryn Dolan had told WTHR.
“I suggest the court be clear with procedural information about what is public and when or why (under the rule) it is not public.”
More details are expected to emerge in the case that has attracted international attention for years.
Mr. Allen, a married man and a CVS worker, was initially booked into the Carroll County Jail after his arrest. He was eventually transferred to a state facility, reportedly for his own safety.
State police confirmed the arrest and announced the charges Monday, a bombshell development in the case that has rocked the small, tight-knit community of Delphi and remained unsolved for more than half a decade.
Officials did not rule out the possibility that other people were involved in the brutal killings of the teenagers and, if so, vowed they would also face charges.
Libby and Abby disappeared on February 13, 2017 after setting out for a hike along the Monon High Bridge Trail in Delphi, Indiana. Their bodies were discovered the next day in a wooded area about half a mile off the trail.
For years, police have refused to say how the girls died and have released few details about the crime scene. But shocking new details about the murders have come to light in a search warrant application obtained by The Murder Sheet podcast and shared with The independent back in May.
The warrant, filed by an FBI agent investigating the murders in 2017 and partially redacted, was to search the home of local man Ronald Logan.
In it, the agent revealed that the girls had lost “a lot” of blood during their deaths and that their killer was believed to have moved and staged their bodies, before taking some sort of memento from the scene. For the first time, the warrant also revealed that the teenagers had been killed by some type of weapon.
The word for the weapon was spelled out in the document.
The killer would be covered in the blood of the victims in the aftermath of the murders due to the “large amount of blood lost from the victims at the crime scene,” it says.