Does Delphi probable cause rule out conspiracy?

According to information contained in the probable cause affidavit released Tuesday, it seems likely accused Delphi killer Richard M. Allen intended to commit murder when he went to the Monon High Bridge on February 13, 2017.  If he parked his car at a place and in a manner that would make it difficult to conclusively identify, if he carried a gun and dressed in a manner that disguised his appearance, as seems to be the case, then he almost certainly went to the bridge intending to kill.  He wasn’t just standing on the bridge staring at the fish when the urge to murder came over him.  Moreover, if the probable cause affidavit is accurate, then he displayed little interest in other females who were on the trails that day.  Of course, it could just be that his plan was to wait and see if any females crossed the bridge.  Maybe that was the necessary precondition to set his plan into motion.  Additionally, it seems likely that he intended to carry out the assault in the area of the bridge.  Why wait until his victims crossed the bridge to try to force them at gunpoint through the woods, across the creek, out to the road and back to his car?  If Richard M. Allen is the killer, which a fair amount of compelling evidence would seem to suggest, then he knew he was going to kill before he went there, and he may have even known who his victims would be.

If the evidence contained in the probable cause affidavit is correct, then Richard M. Allen spent a great deal of time at the scene of the crime.  By his own admission, he did not leave the bridge area until 3:30 p.m.  Also, a witness saw a man walking along County Road 300 North “at approximately 3:57 p.m.” wearing “muddy and bloody” clothes matching the description of the clothes Richard M. Allen admits to wearing.  This means he probably spent a better part of an hour at the crime scene.  If true, this detail would be consistent with statements made by former Carroll County Prosecutor Robert Ives who described the crime scene as “odd” and noted the presence of at least three “signatures.”  “It was not your normal ‘a person was killed here’ crime scene, that’s probably all I can say about it,” Ives said.  These details would appear to indicate that Allen was engaging in behavior that went beyond the act of murder.  Indeed, the Ron Logan search warrant makes reference to staging the scene.  According to WISH-TV, “The document says authorities also found that two articles of clothing from one of the girls ‘…was missing from the crime scene while the rest of their clothing was recovered. It also appeared the girls’ bodies were moved and staged….Based upon my training and experience it is common for perpetrators of this type of crime to take a ‘souvenir’ or, in some fashion, memorialize the crime scene.’”

Clearly, the perpetrator of this crime had a plan, something he had fantasized about for some time.  Richard M. Allen’s purported behavior at the bridge that day appears consistent with someone who had bloody intentions and could very likely have had a clear target in mind.  But why that time, that place and those two innocent children of Delphi.  Could an overweight, balding, boastful, depraved exploiter of young girls have tipped off Richard Allen, or an anonymous profile that turned out to be Allen?  As Alice of The Prosecutors podcast recently theorized, “Kegan could have just been bragging because he’s stupid…It could potentially be, taking it out of the coincidence world, out of the crazy conspiracy world, where they’re all working together behind the scenes, Kegan could have just been stupid and posted a snapshot of his conversation and been like, ‘I got two girls coming to meet me.’  He was never going to go because he is a sad guy who never carries out what he’s going to do.  But someone saw that and was like, ‘That’s an opportunity.  I’m gonna do this.’” 

While it’s definitely within the realm of possibility that Kline’s messaging with Libby, the Marathon Gas Station search, the waiting in a red vehicle admission and the Wabash River search were all just coincidences and lies, Alice’s theory seems entirely reasonable as a possible explanation of these connections.  However, I wouldn’t be too quick to rule out the possibility of “they’re all working together behind the scenes.”  While there may not have been a highly coordinated diabolical plan in operation here, as I’ve written about in previous blog posts, some level of communication or possible coordination is not without precedent in this part of Indiana. 

A June 17, 2022 press release from the Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana titled Two Predators Sentenced to Federal Prison for Sexually Exploiting Four Children They met on Social Media Platforms reads:

“INDIANAPOLIS – Thomas James Israel, 46, of Ft. Wayne, and Max Schafer, 31, of Brownsburg, were each sentenced to federal prison for their role in exploiting four children between October 2019 and August 2020. One of the victims was exploited by both Israel and Schafer during separate incidents.   Israel previously pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a child and distribution of child sexual abuse material. On November 15, 2021, Chief Judge Tanya Walton Pratt sentenced Israel to twenty-five years in federal prison. Late yesterday, Schafer pleaded guilty to receipt of visual depictions of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct and possession of child sexual abuse material. District Judge James R. Sweeney II sentenced Schafer to over fourteen years (175 months) in federal prison.

“According to court documents, between April 2020 and June 2020, Israel met his first minor victim, who was 14, using online applications such as Omegle and Meetme. Using Snapchat and Kik, Israel persuaded this victim to meet with him in person, then forced the victim into sadomasochistic sexual abuse, including forceful oral sex and assault. Israel recorded the sexual abuse on his mobile phone and later sent the video to the victim.

“Israel met a second minor victim using Snapchat and persuaded the victim to send him explicit videos and photos of herself. When this victim was between 14 and 16 years old, she sent her minor boyfriend sexually explicit images and videos of herself. Without her consent, the boyfriend disseminated the images and videos over the internet. Israel downloaded those images and videos onto his online storage account and viewed them for a sexual purpose. 

“Israel met his third minor victim, who was between 14 and 16 years’ old, over Omegle. Knowing that the victim suffered from mental health issues, Israel induced her to produce child sex abuse material, and to sell the images and videos to others online. Israel took a percentage of the fees and paid the victim by sending her gift cards from Victoria’s Secret.

“According to court documents, Schafer also met Israel’s first minor victim using Omegle. Knowing that the minor victim was only fourteen years old, Schafer met and engaged in sexually explicit conduct with the victim. Schafer also persuaded the victim to send him the video that Israel produced, depicting Israel’s violent sexual abuse of the child.”

As this case and many others show, these predators are highly networked.  While it may be rare for one to commit murder, it is not at all rare for them to coordinate and share victims, whether it be for the purposes of sharing images or in person sexual assault.  As one former investigator put it, when it comes to this type of criminal behavior, “There are no coincidences.”

Interview Room panel sheds light on Delphi predator

Sunday evening’s episode of The Interview Room with Chris McDonough featured a panel of experts from the Cold Case Foundation who provided a number of valuable insights into a possible profile of the assailant of Abigail Williams, 13, and Liberty German, 14, of Delphi, Indiana.  The panel included McDonough, Gregory Cooper and Dean Jackson, all of the Cold Case Foundation.  Also joining the group was Tom McHoes, an investigative journalist who co-authored with Cooper the book Predators: Who They Are and How to Stop Them.

A bulk of the insights into the Delphi predator came from Cooper, who is executive director of the Cold Case Foundation and a former FBI profiler.  Because little is known about the crime scene, Cooper relied mostly on the perpetrator’s approach to the crime to discern possible traits and motivations of the killer.

“What type of person would select two young girls in an isolated area, would make that approach with sufficient intimidation to manipulate them, to garner their compliance and submission?  Just the approach alone, what does that tell us about this individual without talking about the crime scene?”  

“What’s he out there for?  He’s prepared to commit a crime.…He has weapons on him….(He is) able to to take a look at those victims and assess their vulnerability right away….He makes this approach, addresses them, refers to them as guys and directs them down the hill.  And, evidently, they comply.  So, at some point, he has the ability, early on, and is confident enough that if he makes this approach, that he’s going to get them to respond the way he wants (them) to.”

“He’s prepared to do this.  He’s been thinking about this.  And he didn’t just wake up that morning thinking about it.  This isn’t the first time he thought about committing a crime like this.  He’s looking for the right victims at the right time, the right environment, situation and circumstances, that to his planning and fantasy that he’s been engaged in for a significant period of time is going to match.  The stars are going to line up for him.  And they did.”

Cooper’s description of the assailant here is chilling.  According to Cooper, the Delphi predator, more commonly referred to as Bridge Guy, is at the Monon High Bridge that day fully prepared and intending to commit a crime.  Whether he knew Abigail and Liberty would be there or not, he was seeking a victim.  Cooper repeatedly makes clear that this was not an impulsive act.  The crime that occurred that day was not the result of another criminal act that escalated or spun out of control.  The predator had been fantasizing, planning and preparing for this moment “for a significant period of time.”

Crucial to the Delphi predator’s “approach” is the victim type.  Cooper examines in detail why Bridge Guy made the choices he made concerning the victims.  At the top of the list would be choosing a victim that would ensure success carrying out his fantasy.

“I would theorize that he’s not looking for adult victims.  He knows that the more vulnerable, the least resistant, the more compliant, it reduces his risk level.  Number one of being caught and identified, and it increases his level of being successful….He’s determined before the type of victim, even the age range.  He has an interest in younger females that he’s been fantasizing about what he’d like to do….They weren’t targeted because they were known, but they were targeted because they fit the profile of his fantasy.  It would increase the success of his crime, plus it would satisfy his inclinations and urges.”

“What level of confidence would they have with an adult female who is mature and confident?  What type of behavioral characteristics in this type of offender?…This is not a guy to drive a sports car, to go out with an attractive woman who can carry on an intelligent conversation.  This is a guy who feel’s more comfortable around children because they’re easier to influence….Consequently, he has developed a sexual interest in them as well….This guy lacks confidence in social circles.  He withdraws from normal social circles.  He’s not confident carrying on an intelligent conversation, mutual conversations with an intelligent adult female.”

From Cooper’s description, it seems likely that the Delphi predator did not feel confident that he could manipulate and control an adult female victim, and likely lacks confidence around adult females in general.  Bridge Guy chose his victims and his approach because it gave him a sense of confidence and assurance that he could be successful in fulfilling his fantasy.  But where did that confidence come from?  Why was he so sure he could manipulate younger victims and “garner their compliance and submission?”  According to Cooper, “I don’t think it was his first time.  I think there were other incidents.”  

More of Cooper’s thoughts and observations will be examined in a subsequent blog post.

Another layer of darkness descends over Delphi case

Anyone who has paid much attention to the Delphi case the last five years knows the darkness runs pretty deep in parts of rural Indiana.  Every now and then some act of unspeakable depravity is brought into the light, causing Delphi investigation onlookers to speculate whether the latest perpetrator could be the one who murdered 13-year-old Abigail Williams and 14-year-old Liberty German on February 13, 2017.       

In April of last year, James Brian Chadwell lured a young girl into his home in Lafayette, brutalized her and almost certainly would have killed her if not for the swift action of family and law enforcement to locate the girl and save her from the vicious assault.  Chadwell was sentenced to 90 years in prison for child molesting and attempted murder of the nine-year-old girl.

At the time, Chadwell seemed like a pretty solid suspect for the Delphi murders.  After all, how many child murderers could there be living within a 20 mile radius of Delphi?  Perhaps more than one, as it seems Chadwell is probably not responsible for the Delphi killings.

Then, last December, another potential child predator was revealed by Indiana State Police.  Investigators issued a press release seeking any information regarding the online profile anthony_shots.  Within hours it was discovered that this profile belonged to a man named Kegan Anthony Kline of Peru, Indiana, another town near Delphi.  

The news again ignited speculation that this individual might have some involvement with the Delphi homicides.  Kline was questioned by investigators in the weeks following the murders and admitted to collecting pornograpic images of underage girls using the anthony_shots profile.  Arrested in 2020, Kline is currently sitting in jail awaiting trial on multiple counts of child exploitation, possession of child pornography, child soliscitation and obstruction of justice. 

Last week, the true crime podcast, The Murder Sheet, made available the transcript of a 2020 police interrogation of Kegan Anthony Kline.  While illuminating previously unknown facts and circumstances surrounding the crime, revelations from the interrogation simultaneously cast another layer of dread and darkness over a case that was already quite dark to begin with.  

The Kline police interview reveals an individual obsessed with obtaining and disseminating sexually explicit images of underrage victims.  Under the guise of anthony_shots, an often shirtless young male with model good looks, Kline was able to insert himself into the lives of Liberty German and some of her peers.  In one instance, Kline as anthony_shots is exchanging messages with Liberty German while she is attending a slumber party.  Ensconced in the confines of his disgusting hovel, Kline is virtually in the room with these middle school girls who believe him to be a cute boy with a Lamborghini. 

In another instance, anthony_shots was in communication with a girl whose family was acquainted with the Kline family.  This girl made arrangements to meet up with anthony_shots at her house after school before her parents arrived home from work.  On the appointed day, when the girl arrived home from school, she discovered a man in a ski mask peering inside her bedroom window.       

In one of the most damning revelations of the interrogation, investigators discovered that anthony_shots was in communication with Liberty German on the morning of the murders.  Later, the profile communicated with Liberty’s friend, saying that he was supposed to meet Liberty the day of the murders.  

Throughout the interview, investigators make it clear that they believe Kegan Kline is not the only individual with access to the anthony_shots profile.  They confront Kline with a lot of evidence showing that his father, Tony Kline, may have been accessing the account as well.  In fact, whether it was just an interrogation technique or detectives really believe it, interviewers admit to Kegan Kline that they don’t think he killed the two girls and seem to be pressing him to give up his dad. 

Tony Kline, as we learn in subsequent Murder Sheet podcasts, is an unpredictable and extremely sadistic character capable of extreme violence at the most benign trigger.  His own step-children relate stories of Tony brutalizing the family over innocent transgressions.  It is easy to see why investigators seem to be focusing on him, and who knows what other evidence they have that may point to the elder Kline.         

Still, though, Tony Kline has not been arrested, and you have to wonder if there are others who may have had access to the anthony_shots social media account.  Investigators have said that the arrest of Kegan Kline has led to the largest child porography investigation in the state’s history.  There is mention by interviewers that Kline had a Dropbox account that may have been accessible by some of his other deviant acquaintances on the internet.  Could there be others in this twisted milieu who had access to the images and messages obtained by the anthony_shots profile?  No doubt, investigators are exploring all these angles, and hopefully there will soon be an arrest.

In the meantime, it just seems like social media apps like Instagram and Snapchat are perfectly fitted for those strangers your parents warned you never to talk to.  These apps readily connect the innocent, trusting and unsuspecting to wolves hiding behind an attractive smiling face and a cool car, who then can invade a private space like a sleepover or a family home in a way that never could have been previously imagined.  And once the wolf is let inside, the damage is only limited by its appetite for depravity.