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Judge issues gag order in Delphi murders case

DELPHI, Ind. (WISH) — A judge on Friday issued a temporary gag order in the criminal case against Delphi murders suspect Richard Allen.

Allen, 50, faces two counts of murder for the deaths of Abigail “Abby” Williams, 13, and Liberty “Libby” German, 14, near Delphi in February 2017. He was arrested in the case on Oct. 28.

The order, issued by Judge Frances Gull, means that prosecutors, defense, police, and family members are barred from talking publicly about the case until a Jan. 13 hearing. That’s when Gull will hear arguments on extending the gag order as well as arguments about the request by Allen’s attorneys to move the trial out of Carroll County.

The gag order was handed down less than 24 hours after Allen’s defense attorneys issued a three-page news release attacking the evidence provided in the probable cause affidavit. Allen’s attorneys maintain that their client is innocent and said Thursday that he is “confused” by the charges filed against him.

In the release, Allen’s attorneys said in part, “The next time Rick heard from the police was in October, 2022. This was approximately two weeks before a contested Sheriff’s election and within days of a federal lawsuit filed against the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office by its former second in command, Michael Thomas.”

In a federal lawsuit, Michael Thomas, a Carroll County sheriff’s deputy, says Sheriff Toby Leazenby of violating Thomas’ constitutional rights to free speech and due process. He claims that Leazenby did not approve of Thomas running for sheriff in part because Thomas had made suggestions and offered assistance in the investigation of “a high-profile child homicide investigation,” which were overruled and which Leazenby and others in Carroll County Sheriff’s Office feared would become publicized as a result of the campaign and or Thomas’ potential election.

Thomas lost a bid for sheriff in May’s Republican primary. After the primary election, Thomas was assigned to the animal control office, essentially becoming the county dogcatcher. Thomas remains employed with the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office.

Allen’s attorney says in the news release that Thomas was the sheriff’s office’s former second-in-command. “Thomas further claimed that the Sheriff and others in the department feared the disagreements with Thomas would become publicized as a result of the political campaign for Sheriff,” the news release said.

Thomas’ attorney sent I-Team 8 a statement that says that “although we understand and appreciate the significance of the Delphi child homicide matter, Mr. Thomas’ allegations relating to that investigation constitute only one component of the broader scope of his Complaint.”  

On the day police announced Allen’s arrest, I-Team 8 asked Doug Carter, the superintendent of Indiana State Police, if the timing of Allen’s arrest was tied to the sheriff’s upcoming election. “That is shameful is my only response to that,” Carter said.