DELPHI, Ind. – A ritualistic killing involving cultists. A conspiracy among prison guards.
Investigators fixated on a single suspect.
Those are among the stunning allegations made in court documents filed by defense attorneys on behalf of Delphi murder suspect Richard Allen.
Allen is charged with two counts of murder in the February 2017 killings of Abby Williams and Libby German in Delphi. Investigators announced his arrest in October 2022, more than five years after the killings.
Attorneys Bradley Rozzi and Andrew Baldwin filed a 130-page motion that lays out, in their opinion, the reasons the October 2022 search warrant for Allen’s property should be thrown out.
The attorneys filed an amended motion to suppress the search warrant last week. They’ve now requested a Franks hearing, alleging that investigators withheld information from a judge in order to get the warrant approved.
But the filing goes well beyond a dry court document and lays out the defense’s extraordinary alternative theory that the killings were linked to a cult.
The theory involves several members of a purported Odinist cult operating in central Indiana.
What is Odinism? What is its relation to Delphi?
Odinism itself is an ancient Nordic religion sometimes known as Asatru.
While often peaceful, some adherents practice animal sacrifice and ritualistic killings. And in recent years, some white supremacist groups have coopted the religion, making it an overtly racist ideology.
There is also “an additional dark, demonic component” to Odinism, Allen’s attorneys claim. An unnamed Indiana State Trooper deposed by the defense told the attorneys that Odinism essentially consisted of two types: “the good and the evil.”
A report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, cited by the defense, warned about the rise of Odinist beliefs tied to white supremacists.
Allen’s attorneys believe followers of the religion “ritualistically sacrificed Abigail Williams and Liberty German.” They point to the crime scene itself, in which the girls’ bodies were posed and tree branches were “intentionally placed in a very specific and arranged pattern” on and around their bodies.
Someone used blood matched to one of the girls to paint a symbol similar to the letter “F” on trees. The “F” symbol, the defense attorneys contend, is associated with Odinism beliefs.
Allen’s attorneys believe the slayings were the work of more than one person. They don’t believe Allen had the time or ability to carry them out by himself.
If not Allen, who’s responsible?
The filing devotes nearly 60 pages to a wide-ranging conspiracy involving individuals who are purportedly members of a cult-like group.
Investigators in the Delphi case were aware of the allegations, and a few investigators spent at least some time looking into a possible cult connection. But early on, investigators were mostly dismissive of the idea after consulting with an expert who determined, based on sketches of the crime scene, that the crime was not associated with Odinism or “any type of cult worshipping.”
Allen’s attorneys believe these alleged cult members were involved in the teens’ deaths. At the very least, the attorneys wrote in the filing, investigators failed to disclose evidence that could’ve cleared Allen as a suspect.
One of the men had a son who dated Abby Williams (“Nobody denies this fact,” attorneys wrote in the document). Defense attorneys also cast doubt on alibis offered by the purported cult members, along with inconsistencies in their individual stories.
At least one of the alleged cult members knew details about the crime scene that weren’t public knowledge. Another, the filing said, was the subject of a tip to investigators just two days after the girls’ bodies were found. The individual was allegedly a member of “Vinlanders” (another term for Odinist followers) and posted social media photos of “half dead women” and strange “symbols made out of tree branches.”
Allen’s attorneys allege the individuals had the access and proximity to the Delphi area to carry out the killings. The attorneys also wrote that Richard Allen has no known ties to the group of any white supremacist ideology.
Purported Odinism at Westville Correctional Facility
Allen’s attorneys claimed the Odinist connections don’t stop there. In their motion to have Allen moved to a different facility as he awaits trial, Baldwin and Rozzi said prison guards wore patches that appeared to show Odinistic symbols, including one that purportedly said, “In Odin We Trust.”
During later interactions, the guards no longer wore the patches, the attorneys said.
The attorneys contend Allen has been monitored by guards with ties to Odinism during his time in captivity, with the guards using Tasers against him on multiple occasions.
Another inmate claimed, “corrupt and ranking officers [were] calling Richard Allen a child killer, teasing him that he has a visit from his family.”
Two guards, in particular, were almost always by Allen’s side and within earshot of conversations involving Allen, his attorneys and his wife. Their close proximity to Allen and alleged ties to Odinism make it impossible for Allen to discuss things openly with his defense team.
The attorneys also allege Allen, during one meeting, “mumbled in a somewhat incoherent fashion that Odinites were threatening him.” They had not discussed the purported Odinism-related aspects of the case to him at that point.
Falsified evidence alleged in affidavit
Allegations of a pagan cult aside, the filing also casts doubt on the rationale in granting a search of Allen’s residence in the first place. While Liggett applied for the search warrant in October 2022, and Carroll County Judge Benjamin Diener approved it, the defense argues that certain details described by witnesses didn’t match what appeared in the affidavit.
Defense attorneys said a key witness described a vehicle that looked nothing like Allen’s black Ford Focus. The same witness described a man who didn’t resemble Allen. Her description involved a white male in his 20s with brown curly hair and a medium build—the subject of Composite Sketch No. 2.
The sketch bears little resemblance to Allen, the attorneys contend, and investigators didn’t release it for more than two years after the killings. The original composite sketch was released within months of the Delphi murders and showed a heavier set, older individual.
Nowhere in the affidavit did Liggett write that the witness’ description of a person she encountered near the bridge bore little resemblance to Allen.
The presence of Allen’s Ford Focus is also in dispute, defense attorneys argued. Allen told investigators he arrived on the trails around 12 p.m. and left around 1:30 p.m. According to the timeline set by investigators, the killings likely happened between 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m., meaning Allen would’ve left, according to his recollection.
A witness reported seeing a different vehicle—not Allen’s Ford Focus but rather a 1965 Ford Comet—parked outside the CPS building around 2:15 p.m. But this detail was omitted in the affidavit.
A separate witness reported seeing a man wearing a “tan colored coat,” not a blue jacket. She also told investigators he was “muddy.” The affidavit, however, said the man was “wearing a blue colored jacket and blue jeans and was muddy and bloody,” with Liggett adding that last detail—not the witness.
Defense attorneys contend Liggett massaged the information to make it look like both witnesses had seen the same person when it’s entirely possible, in the defense’s view, that they were different individuals.
From the filing:
“There is a reason that in his sworn affidavit Liggett concealed key information from Judge Diener and lied about other key information: Had Diener known the hidden and falsified facts then Diener would never have signed the search warrant – a search warrant that was already insufficient in linking Richard Allen to the murders even before Liggett’s lies and deceptions.”
The filings represent the latest legal maneuvering by Allen’s attorneys in the Delphi case. They are again seeking to have their client moved away from Westville Correctional to a different facility—suggestions included the White County Jail or the Cass County Jail—for his own safety.
At the same time, they’re advancing an alternative theory behind the killings that they believe would clear their client of wrongdoing. They’re also alleging Liggett “acted intentionally or recklessly when he omitted, or lied, about information” contained with the affidavit for the search warrant.
Allen’s trial is set for January 2024, according to court records.