A bullet found near the bodies of two teenage girls killed in Delphi, Indiana, was linked to a gun belonging to the suspect when they died in 2017, recently unsealed court documents have revealed.
An analysis performed on a .40 caliber pistol belonging to 50-year-old Richard M. Allen determined that an unexpended .40 caliber bullet found by the bodies of the victims – 13-year-old Abigail “Abby” Williams and Liberty “Libby” German, 14 – allegedly shot from the gun, according to a probable cause affidavit released on Tuesday.
On February 13, 2017, according to investigators, Abby and Libby were dropped off at approximately 1:49 p.m. near an entrance to the Delphi Historic Trail. Video found on one of the victim’s phones shows she met a man in the southeastern part of Monon High Bridge at 2:13 p.m., the document says.
In the video, investigators saw the man in a dark jacket and jeans walking behind one of the victims.
“As the male subject approaches Victim 1 and Victim 2, one of the victims mentions ‘weapon,'” according to the document. “Towards the end of the video, a man is seen and heard saying to the girls, ‘Guys, down the hill.’ The girls then start going down the hill and the video ends.”
The man is believed to have forced the victims down the hill to where they were killed, the affidavit states.
The girls were found in the woods near the trailhead on Feb. 14, 2017, with an unexpended .40 caliber bullet between their feet from each of them, the document says. Clothing belonging to the victims was also discovered in Deer Creek, just south of where they were found.
Investigators believe Allen is the man in the victim video, according to the affidavit, and was seen in the area by at least three other witnesses they interviewed who described a man dressed in the same way as the one in the video.
Allen said in an interview that he was on the trails Feb. 13 from about 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and saw three young girls before heading to Monon High Bridge to watch the fish, the document says. Later he returned to the trail and sat on a bench before leaving.
Investigators believe Allen was not seen on the trail after 2:13 p.m. because he was in the woods with the victims, the affidavit states. They also believe witnesses saw him return to his car, a black 2016 Ford Focus, with “muddy and bloody clothes”.
Last month, authorities searched Allen’s home in Delphi and found a .40 caliber Sig Sauer Model P226 pistol. Analysis of the weapon by the Indiana State Police laboratory determined that the unexpended .40 caliber bullet found near the girls’ bodies was fired from Allen’s gun, according to the document.
Investigators determined Allen purchased the gun in 2001, and he said it was never used or borrowed by anyone else, according to the affidavit. Allen was unable to explain why the unspent cartridge was found by the bodies of the victims, and although he admitted to being on the trail, he denied any involvement in their murders.
NBC News has requested a comment from Allen’s attorney.
Police arrested Allen on October 31. He is being held without bail at the White County Jail.
Abby and Libby disappeared in 2017 while hiking in their hometown of Delphi, about 60 miles northwest of Indianapolis. Their disappearances have puzzled the community and online crime detectives for years.
“Today is not a day to celebrate,” Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter said at the time of the arrest, adding that the arrest is “a major step leading to a conclusion in this long-term and complex investigation”.
State police have released additional details since investigations began after the February 2017 killings. Requests for additional information from the public and media were granted Tuesday by order of Allen County Judge Fran Gull, who released the redacted affidavit upon Allen’s arrest.
In his ruling, Gull wrote that “the public interest is not served by barring access” to the documents and that witness safety and Allen’s personal information could be protected by redacting portions of the records.
Marin Scott and The Associated Press contributed.