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Judge approves new murder charges against man in case of slain Indiana teens

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A judge approved two new murder counts Monday against an Indiana man charged in the killings of two teenage girls but rejected a prosecutor's bid to add kidnapping charges.

Special Judge Fran Gull approved the two counts in addition to two counts of murder while committing or attempting to commit kidnapping that Richard Allen of Delphi already faced.

Allen was arrested in October 2022 and charged in the 2017 slayings of 13-year-old Abigail Williams and 14-year-old Liberty German. He pleaded not guilty to the original charges.

Carroll County Prosecutor Nicholas McLeland said when he filed the amended charges in January that it “more accurately aligns the charging information with the cause’s discovery and probable cause affidavit.”

In addition to approving the new charges, Gull also ruled that all future hearings in the case will be held in Carroll County, other than jury selection on May 13. Some hearings have been held in Fort Wayne, where Gull is an Allen Superior Court judge.

A relative of one of the teenagers dropped them off on Feb. 13, 2017, at a hiking trail near their hometown of Delphi, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) northwest of Indianapolis. They were reported missing that evening after they didn’t show up at a meeting place where they had arranged to be picked up. Their bodies were found the next day in a rugged, heavily wooded area near the trail.

The killings have haunted Delphi, a city of about 3,000 where Allen worked at a drugstore, and the case has been closely watched in the state and nationwide.

Gull issued a gag order in December 2022 barring attorneys, law enforcement officials, court personnel, the coroner and the girls’ family members from commenting on the case to the public or the media in any form, including social media.

Prosecutors had sought the order, citing intense public scrutiny and media attention. Gull was brought in as a special judge to oversee the case after a Carroll County judge recused himself.

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This story was first published on March 18, 2024. It was updated on March 20, 2024, to correct the new charges against a man in the slaying of two teenagers in Delphi, Indiana. He newly faces two counts of murder, while he had already been charged with two counts of murder while committing or attempting to commit kidnapping.