For nearly six years, Delphi, Indiana, a small town an hour north of Indianapolis, has been holding its breath. And Monday morning, when Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter stepped to the lectern to announce the arrest and charging of local resident Richard Allen with two counts of murder, it seemed the victims’ families and nearly 21,000 residents of Carroll County were finally allowed to exhale.
And as the sun came up Tuesday, 22 hours later, it meant a new reality for the town that describes itself as “small town living, big town adventures.” The unknown, now partly known, and the question of who, partly answered.
At the Stone House, a Main Street staple and one of the few restaurants in town, there wasn’t much chatter about the announcement, but the quiet seemed to say everything: relief. The non-stop questions since teenagers Abby and Libby were found dead near a creek just outside of town would continue, but for today, just for a while, it was about understanding the new phase of a case that’s drawn worldwide attention.
Mike and Becky Patty, the grandparents of Liberty German, said the announcement of an arrest presents a fork in the road, where they go from advocates for finding a killer to a role that, for now, they’re still unsure of.
“I think the reality of it is still setting in,” Mike Patty said in an interview with HLN’s Susan Hendricks. “And more importantly, trying to figure out what our path forward is, and that is the prosecution of the case.”
The arrest also provides a new path forward for investigators, who are still asking the public for help, and were adamant during their news conference that the investigation is far from over.
“If there’s anything out there that law enforcement doesn’t know about, we want them to know about it. And especially with this arrest, and this person being charged with this,” Patty said. “There’s a face to the ‘bridge guy’ now. And a name with the ‘bridge guy.’”
‘Everything changes now’
Authorities would not give any details about Allen’s alleged involvement in the killings, and it’s unclear whether Allen is in fact the man on the bridge, or the voice that uttered the phrase “down the hill,” recorded by Libby’s cell phone shortly before the crime.
Allen pleaded not guilty in an initial hearing. He has a pretrial hearing scheduled for January and a trial date set for March. Efforts to find an attorney representing Allen have so far been unsuccessful.
Authorities have pivoted from desperately asking the public for leads to clamping down on what information is released.
Nicholas McLeland, the Carroll County prosecutor, has sealed the charging documents and hasn’t released additional details surrounding the arrest.
“Now that the charges have been filed against Allen, the days of talking about what we have are over,” Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter said to HLN’s Susan Hendricks.
“And everything changes now.”
Allen is being housed in the White County Jail, nearly 16 miles from downtown Delphi. Over the weekend, Allen’s home was vacant, with curtains drawn, lights turned off, and no cars in the driveway.
A suspect among them
News of the arrest began to circulate in Delphi prior to Monday’s announcement, but the confirmation by authorities was the period at the end of a sentence locals had long been hoping would be written.
Lisa Greene, a Delphi resident and downtown business owner, said the news brings a sense of sadness not just for the victims’ families, but also for the family of the accused.
“It just breaks my heart. So many families are affected by this,” she said. “And I feel bad for his family and his friends, but I’m glad justice is going to be served, I hope.”
“I think the town has mixed emotions, honestly,” she said. “To know that another family is being affected by this breaks our heart, and to know he was a part of this community, and that we all liked him and trusted him and spoke to him on a daily basis sometimes, that’s kind of an upsetting feeling. It really is.”
Allen, 50, was employed at the local CVS. In the back of the store, near the pharmacy counter, there’s a wanted poster with an image of the man on the bridge. It’s a flier that Allen likely saw every day at work.
Denise Rossi, a Delphi resident who knew both girls, said she was shaken by the news.
“When I found out who it was, it was horrifying, and how close he lives to my house and all his neighbors that are good friends of mine,” she said. “There’s a handful of stores in Delphi. He works at CVS; everybody goes to CVS.”
Hoping the healing can begin
For now, the town of Delphi, the day after the arrest announcement, remains largely quiet and the work of continuing an investigation is left to those tasked with building the case.
“I look forward to telling the country the story, by presenting the facts, to what we know, versus what we think,” Carter said. “I hope that after today, people start healing just a bit and start trusting again.”
And for Becky Patty, the new phase of this case serves as a reminder that while her role may change, her life without Libby does not.
“You feel it, you live it every day,” she said. “She may not be here with us physically, but we take her with us everywhere we go.”
Drew Iden hosts and produces HLN’s podcast “Down the Hill: The Delphi Murders.” Listen here.