DELPHI, Ind. — A motion filed by attorneys representing accused Delphi killer Richard Allen claims investigators misled the court about the interpretation of its interview with an expert from Purdue on the potential of pagan ritual in the murders of Abby Williams and Libby German.
The girls were found dead of knife wounds on Feb. 14, 2017, near the banks of Deer Creek below the Monon High Bridge.
Evidence revealed in a defense motion filed last month to suppress evidence in the case reported that Abby was wearing Libby’s clothing when the bodies were discovered, arranged sticks covered the girls and a carving in blood was found on a nearby tree.
Early on in the investigation, detectives investigated a potential connection to Odinism, a Norse pagan belief system, that practiced ritualistic sacrifice with runes and carved sticks laid out in a specific symbolic pattern.
Representations from the state indicated that the Odin connection was dismissed even after several men with connections to Carroll County were interviewed about their admitted practices and beliefs.
One reason cited by investigators for the dismissal of the theory was the claim that a Purdue professor with expertise in Norse and Germanic folklore doubted the evidence.
When Allen’s defense team asked this summer for the identity of the professor in order to confirm his opinions, the attorneys said they were told that the professor could not be located.
In a filing made Monday, the defense team told the court that it had recently acquired an audio tape of a Sept. 19, 2023, Indiana State Police interview with Jeffrey Turco, Ph.D.
In a filing made this morning, the defense revealed that far from throwing cold water on the potential of an Odin connection, Professor Turco actually found elements of the pagan rites present in the evidence shown him by detectives, and told investigators such as recently as last month after the state indicated it couldn’t find its expert.
“(Carroll County Sheriffs Deputy) Tony Liggett swore under oath at this August 8, 2023, deposition that a Purdue professor said that the sticks found on the girls did not represent ‘Odinism or any type of cult worshipping or any type of a group that would have conducted the crime,’” reads today’s motion which similarly quotes Indiana State Police Sergeant Jerry Holeman. “On September 6, 2023, the prosecutor Nick McLeland told the defense via email: ‘As stated before we are trying to identify the Purdue professor, but no luck yet…may not be able to identify him/her.’”
On Sept. 18, 2023, the defense filed its Franks Motion to disallow from evidence a gun found in Allen’s house that the state claims was present at the scene of the killings. The motion was based on a claim that investigators misled a Carroll County judge in October of 2022 when they sought a search warrant for Allen’s house but did not indicate that there could be alternate suspects or theories for the murders.
The day after the filing of the Franks Motion, ISP Sgt. Holman, according to today’s filing, finally found Professor Turco and reportedly apologized for taking nearly a month to meet with the State’s Odinism expert, even while the prosecutor was representing to the defense that the Purdue academic could not be found and might never be identified.
The defense writes that in the most recent interview, Turco says, “’It was a given’ that someone was trying to replicate a Germanic runic script,” (with the placing of the sticks), that a Harvard University colleague of Turco’s agreed with his assessment, that Turco confirmed, “Odinism is an extreme neo-Pagan/neo-Heathenism ideology that has right wing racist connotations,” “Vikings practiced ritual killings and sacrifices,” “He ‘could certainly imagine that this was somebody’s idea that when you do human sacrifice you carve runes…that scenario seems entirely plausible to me,” and, “Dr. Turco discussed how runes were thought to have ‘magical significance and would be used in incantations, in rituals and that there is a sacrificial connection in mythological poetry…these were things again where somebody who was sort of an Odin ‘fanboy’ would likely come across.”
Four discovery document dumps by the state in September gave Allen’s attorneys access to the state’s evidence against their client.
Turco’s recent interview with ISP was included in one of those submissions.
The defense claims that the interview and knowledge of Turco’s identity in August were confirmation that, “apparently in what seems like a completely hair-brained scheme, Holeman and Liggett decided to claim that they did not know the professor’s name hoping that this would put an end to the Defense looking into the Purdue professor,” and, “It would be difficult to find a more outrageous set of facts to support that Liggett and the Unified Command intentionally concealed the Odinite information,” from the judge who signed the original search warrant nearly a year ago, and, “it is easy to see that they would have no problem concealing all the evidence.”
In late September, Prosecutor McLeland responded to the Franks Motion and its speculation that Liggett misled the search warrant judge and that Odinists were behind the killings.
“The memorandum is colorful, dramatic and highly unprofessional, it is not completely true,” wrote the prosecutor, and that the allegations, “are not supported by evidence…Sheriff Tony Liggett did not intentionally or recklessly omit evidence or lie about evidence in the probable cause affidavit to support the search warrant.”
Liggett served as the Unified Command’s chief investigator and was elected Sheriff of Caroll County days after Allen was arrested.
In Monday’s filing in support of setting a Nov. 1 deadline for the state to turn over all of its files in advance of the trial date early next year, the defense observed that due to recent follow-up interviews with several men with admitted Odinism connections in Carroll County that, “the State has reopened its investigation.”
“Frankly I’m not sure the State ever closed its investigation,” said Murder Sheet podcaster Kevin Greenlee, an attorney who has closely tracked the Delphi investigation and its court filings.
”I think it’s important again for the investigators to go back and look into the Odinism angles because now that they know the defense intends to pursue that theory, it’s important that they are more fully prepared to deal with that in the trial with fresh interviews, a fresh look at the evidence,” he said. ”It certainly seems from what the defense filed that they feel that their recent action, their recent interest in Odinism, has inspired law enforcement to go back and take that theory perhaps more seriously than they did in the recent past and this indicates the defense feels that more and more information will be revealed by law enforcement in its investigation.”
Allen County Judge Fran Gull, who was appointed by the Indiana State Supreme Court to oversee the case after the original Carroll County judge bowed out, has yet to set a date to hear the defense motion to toss the search warrant evidence or compel the prosecutor to meet a discovery deadline.
”I’ve believed for a while now that the Jan. 8 trial date is an unrealistic date,” said Murder Sheet host Aine Cain. “And what we’re hearing from the defense attorneys in these filings indicates that they may be starting to feel the same way and they have a situation where they have so much to go through, they’re just two people, they may have staff helping them, but at the end of the day it’s on them to go through a lot of information and I don’t see them going forward in January with what they said they still have to do. There is always something around the corner that may surprise us all.”