Richard Allen, 50, was the guy who worked at CVS. He played pool at the now-closed JC’s Bar and Grill. He was nice enough, not overly outgoing.
In the small community of Delphi, Indiana, that was about it, until this weekend.
“It shocked the hell out of me,” 74-year-old Tom Brower recalled while having a beer in the Office Tavern off Delphi’s Main Street. This face of the man who he described as helpful and courteous, popping up as a mug shot on the news. “No red flags,” Brower said.
“I freaked out,” agreed 68-year-old Mac McLeland, sitting next to Brower.
Neither had known Allen’s name. But CVS is the only pharmacy in the city of 3,000, so plenty recognized Allen’s face when state police announced he is a suspect in the 2017 killings of teens Abigail “Abby” Williams and Liberty “Libby” German.
The girls went for a hike on Delphi Historic Trails on a warm February afternoon, and their bodies were found in the woods nearby the next day. Five and a half years later, Allen has been charged with two counts of murder in the case, but the court has sealed the charging documents and the investigation remains open.
Bob Matlock, who owned JC’s Bar and Grill until he closed it late last year, can’t fathom how the regular patron he knew ended up in this position.
Allen and his wife came in three to four times a week, laughed with the other regulars, partook in the occasional somber conversation about what happened to the teens and how awful it must be for their families. Their families, too, were patrons of the bar, Matlock said.
The two suspect drawings released over the years hung on the bulletin board in the bar. There’s a picture floating around Facebook of Allen standing near the drawings, Matlock said. No one ever thought there was a connection. Matlock is still skeptical.
“They were a good family couple,” Matlock said of Allen and his wife. “That’s what I guess was the biggest shock.”
At the time of the slayings, 67-year-old Betty Cummings would occasionally have lunch with friends at the McDonalds next to the CVS, to discuss theories about the case. She remembers seeing Allen come there to pick up lunch every once in a while, calm and mild-mannered, not really interacting with anyone there. But he was never part of their discussions. He was the CVS employee working the floor, helping her find an item. Allen is a licensed pharmacy technician, according to public records.
“He just blended right in,” she said. “You wouldn’t even suspect the guy.”
Libby’s grandmother, Becky Patty, told reporters Monday that Allen had processed photos of the girls at a local drug store and did not charge the family for the cost.
Allen’s apparent undistinguished life in the community stunned local law enforcement.
“I’ve been in the business, our business, for a while and I thought, ‘Boy, how’d I even miss that one?” Carroll County Sheriff Tobe Leazenby, who’s been in law enforcement for 36 years and whose department assisted in the multi-agency investigation, told IndyStar.
Leazenby suddenly found himself trying to recall any bit of conversation he had with Allen ― the kind of pleasantries one has every day with someone ringing up a customer.
In a prepared statement from a spokesperson, CVS officials said they are “shocked and saddened” about Allen’s arrest in the investigation.
“As members of the Carroll County community, we remain devastated by these murders and our hearts go out to the German and Williams families,” the statement said. “We stand ready to cooperate with the police investigation in any way we can.”
Leazenby said an arrest in Abby and Libby’s case felt almost like a goal for him before his term as sheriff concludes at the end of the year. On a file cabinet in his office, Leazenby only has a few items pinned up: two schedules for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and a side-by-side photo of the Delphi suspect drawing and grainy photo taken from Libby’s cell phone. He’s kept the photos up since the first days of the investigation, as a reminder of his goal.
He always believed the day would come, citing his faith and the steadfast work of investigators from multiple law enforcement agencies as the sources of his hope. Yet, the news still feels surreal, he said.
“After five and a half years … you wonder whether or not you’re dreaming and whether or not this is actually real,” Leazenby said.
It doesn’t seem real to 48-year-old A.J. Robinson either, whose early impressions of Allen were benign. Robinson met Allen briefly for the first time at JC’s, the pool bar. They had a short conversation, where Robinson told Allen about how he is legally blind.
Anytime Robinson went to CVS thereafter, he said, Allen would come over to him and ask if he needed help.
“He was always nice. Anybody would tell you that,” Robinson said. “You’d never think in a million years.”
Residents around town marvel at what a national and international story has become of their community, with mixed feelings. Some feel protective of the victims’ families, like a local business who posted a sign barring media from entering. The CVS where Allen worked booked a private security guard to monitor the entrance Monday, something residents never see.
Above all, they’ve just wanted answers.
“It hits home here in this town. It really hits home,” Brower said. “People in this town want answers.”
Indiana State Police’s tip line remains open and those with pertinent information can email [email protected] or call 765-822-3535.
Contact IndyStar reporter Sarah Nelson at 317-503-7514 or [email protected]