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.”

Two currents in Delphi investigation yet to merge

Two Indiana waterways, Deer Creek and the Wabash River, merge at a location southwest of downtown Delphi.  Each identifies a separate current of information known to the public about the police investigation into the murders of Abigail Williams and Liberty German of Delphi.  The Wabash flows through Peru within blocks of the home where Kegan Kline lived at the time of the murders.  Deer Creek is part of the crime scene, of course, and flows beneath the Monon High Bridge where, authorities contend, Richard Allen pursued and confronted the girls back in February of 2017.  Deer Creek empties into the Wabash River at Delphi, but will the two currents of the investigation ever merge?

According to WISH-TV, Richard Allen “told a state conservation officer he was in the area on the day of the killings, but his report may have been considered unfounded, a police source tells I-Team 8.

“Allen, a 50-year-old resident of Delphi, went to the conservation officer right after the teens’ murders on Feb. 13, 2017, and said he was on the Monon High Bridge that afternoon but didn’t see the two girls, the source says.

“Williams and German were dropped off near the bridge on the day of the murders. Their bodies were found the next day.

“Allen’s statement was forgotten until recently when Indiana State Police became frustrated with the status of the Delphi investigation and asked a group of investigators to look over files related to the case.

“Investigators believe Allen is the man on the bridge in the cellphone video and in sketches released by police, the source tells I-Team 8.”

This new revelation would seem to indicate that investigators stumbled upon the Richard Allen lead independent of any information they received from Kegan Kline.  Taken on its own without additional context, the information appears to indicate that Richard Allen acted alone.

However, the WISH-TV reporting goes on to verify another bit of speculative info related to the Wabash River branch of the investigation.

“The police source also confirms that the recent five-week state police search of the Wabash River in Peru was connected to the Delphi investigation.

“It was initiated after Kegan Kline told police they would find a cell phone and weapon in the river, the source tells I-Team 8.

“Kline, 28, a figure linked to the Delphi murders who has not been charged in the case, revealed that information while being questioned about the deaths of Libby and Abby.

“That evidence was never found and Kline is known for lying to investigators.”

While it is certainly possible that the Wabash River/Kegan Kline current of the investigation is entirely bogus, and Kline is just a big fat lying piece of excrement who has been misleading investigators for months, why then would we continue to see Kline’s trial postponed due to his ongoing negotiations with prosecutors?  Could it be that the current negotiations are related only to his child-porn-related charges?  

Perhaps, but there is another possibility which may hold the key to whether these two investigative streams will ever merge.  Regarding the sealing of the probable cause affidavit, Dr. Jody Maderia of the IU School of Law in Bloomington told WISH-TV, “There may be other individuals that they are seeking to apprehend and there could be details they don’t want getting out in the public to control the quality of that investigation.” 

Additionally, Allen was charged with what is commonly referred to as “felony murder,” indicating that he could be charged with other felony crimes, or he could have participated in the commission of a felony during which someone else committed the murders.  While bits of information emerge that on their own seem to point to Allen’s sole culpability, a wider context still allows for the possibility that Kegan Kline may somehow be involved.  Only when more of the pieces are in place will we learn if the two investigative currents merge like Deer Creek into the Wabash River, or diverge into a Kegan Kline initiated morass of bullshit and lies.

Nearly two weeks separates search of Delphi suspect’s home and arrest

According to Fox59, “50-year-old Richard Allen was arrested and taken into custody at the Indiana State Police’s post in West Lafayette on Wednesday, October 26. He was formally charged with two counts of murder two days later on October 28.”

On Monday night, HLN’s Barbara MacDonald reported that Delphi suspect Richard Matthew Allen’s home and property was searched by investigators on Thursday, October 13.  

What prompted investigators to knock on Richard Allen’s door that mid-October day, and can the nearly two week gap between the search and his arrest shed any light on how Allen ended up on their radar?  If the account MacDonald gleaned from Allen’s neighbors is accurate, it would appear that Richard Allen may have only become a suspect that morning, and investigators, most likely, had not yet acquired much evidence against him prior to arriving at his home that day.  

MacDonald reported neighbors “noticed a lot of activity outside his house, a lot of cars that appeared to them to be unmarked law enforcement vehicles, a lot of men not in law enforcement uniforms, but in suits and khaki pants, all arriving at the house just before noon.  They asked Richard and his wife to exit the home and to remain outside of the home throughout the day.  They weren’t allowed back into the home until around 11:00 p.m. that night.  During that time, Richard stood outside.  His wife sat in a van.  He stood outside that van for several hours.  One of the photos shows that, that we’ve exclusively obtained.  Another photo shows him sitting in the van with his wife, with the passenger door open for another several hours.  At some point, as it was starting to get dark out, these neighbors noticed that the Carroll County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Tony Liggett arrived.  He had a piece of paper with him.  He showed it to Richard Allen.  At that point a tow truck arrived and started taking the car away…one that he (Allen) routinely used.  They began a search inside the house and also in the yard using some sort of a device, perhaps like a metal detector or something like that, to search a flower bed and an area around a shed.  They did dig around the shed and some small areas.  They took a lot of photos in the shed….Officers came out of the house carrying several bundles of cloth, dark cloth, perhaps clothing, a Macy’s shopping bag, a shoe box, and a stack of books.  At this point we don’t know what any of that means for the investigation.”  

If the above account is accurate, and investigators are removing the Allen’s from their home while a search warrant is being obtained, it would seem likely that Richard Allen only became a suspect that very morning.  Why would they not have arrived there with a warrant in hand unless this was a spontaneous event?  Also, if they’d had conclusive evidence pointing to Allen, why would they not have arrested him the day of the search?  Whatever evidence or information led to his arrest, it likely was obtained during the search and required an additional thirteen days of examination before authorities felt confident enough to arrest Allen.

It seems doubtful that DNA led to Richard Matthew Allen.  If this was the case, then they probably would have arrived at his home with a search warrant and possibly an arrest warrant in hand.  It seems more likely that some tip or cyber discovery resulted in the identification or location of his home.  While there is yet no known linkage between Allen and Kegan Kline, does anyone honestly believe that this guy was not a consumer of online pornography?  If the killings were the realization of some fantasy, like many experts speculate, then it would be almost a cosmic certainty that the suspect Richard Allen was immersed in a world of online child sexual abuse material.  And if that’s true, could Richard Allen, or his online profile, have ended up in the orbit of Kegan Kline?  Was Richard Allen just a profile or an anonymous acquaintance of Kegan Kline’s before he became known by name to authorities on October 13?

Whatever prompted investigators to rush to the suspect’s home on October 13, it would be the granddaddy of all coincidences if one of the victims was in social media communication with a child predator in the morning and then was pursued and ultimately murdered by another child predator in an unrelated incident that afternoon.  It is heartening to see law enforcement continuing to investigate until they are certain that all involved are apprehended and justice can prevail for Libby, Abby, and their families.

Are Delphi investigators closing in?

During the past week, a great deal of new information has emerged regarding the Delphi murder investigation.  We learned that the Indiana State Police briefly took custody of Kegan Kline, for what purpose we do not know.  However, around the time this was occurring, a search of the Wabash River ensued in an area of Peru near where Kegan Kline lived with his father at the time of the murders.  We also found out that Kline is currently in negotiations with prosecutors regarding the numerous charges that are currently leveled against him.  All of this leads many to speculate that he may be cooperating with authorities in the Delphi investigation.  

However, the first piece of information to drop, the big steaming matzah ball served up for public consumption by the Murder Sheet podcast that kicked off this latest round of discussion, revealed that “Kegan Kline had searched for the location of the Marathon Gas station in Delphi on the day of the murders.”  This information set off a frenzy of speculation regarding what significance the Marathon Gas station might hold in the investigation.  Of course, it is impossible to know and any guess is bound to be way off base, but there are a few things we can deduce.  We know that Kegan Kline’s phone was in Peru at a location on Country Club Road around the time of the murders.  In the interrogation transcript, investigators indicate that they do not believe that Kline committed the murders.  Sure, they could have been blowing smoke up his fat, lying ass, but it is generally assumed that, while he possesses some knowledge of the crime, he is not the perpetrator.  

It seems reasonable to speculate that someone planning to commit an act like this would probably not carry with him a device that could potentially be tracked at a later date.  A cellphone with Google Maps would likely be left behind by the perpetrator.  He probably wouldn’t even want to drive a newer vehicle with some sophisticated onboard computer.  The perp has knowledge that the girls are going to be at the bridge, because he has obtained the information through either Kegan Kline or Kegan Kline’s device.  The predator drives to Delphi without a smart device.  It’s easy to find, he knows how to get there.  Maybe he’s been there before.  However, once in Delphi, he is unsure of the location of the Monon High Bridge, or he has questions.  Obviously, he’s not going to ask any locals for information or directions, because he knows what he is about to do, and he doesn’t want to present himself to a local resident as the stranger in town looking for what is about to become the site of a heinous crime.  He needs to talk to Kegan.  He looks for a payphone.  He finds one at a gas station nearby.  He places a call to Kegan and gives his location, prompting Kegan’s search for the Marathon Gas station.  Kegan then gives him directions to the Monon High Bridge.   

Obviously, there are countless possibilities why Kegan Kline searched for the location of the Marathon Gas station on the day of the murders.  The one just presented, while plausible, is almost certainly not the correct one.  Additionally, the news that the FBI failed to obtain security footage from the gas station is extremely disappointing, but seems about right for this case.  An unseen predator walks in and out of the crime scene area and no reliable description or likeness can be obtained.  The monster is caught on video, but the image is so grainy that still very little can be known for sure about his appearance.  And now it’s possible he may have been at a location where he could have been captured on security video, but instead he again eludes investigators.  At times this predator seems like a shifting spirit of evil formed in the darkest corners of the internet, manifesting as a figure of terror on a bridge.  However, the picture seems to be getting clearer and investigators appear to be closing in.  Hopefully soon, there will be resolution and justice for the families of those two innocent children of Delphi.

Murder Sheet podcast throws pretty big matzah ball out there regarding Delphi investigation

This week’s Murder Sheet podcast details the FBI’s gross mishandling of allegations against Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics by agents working out of its Indianapolis field office.  These are some of the same agents who were on the scene in Delphi at the very earliest stages of the investigation into the murder of Abigail Williams and Liberty German.  According to details released in the podcast, a law enforcement source revealed that “the FBI was in charge of obtaining relevant surveillance from local establishments.”  These establishments included a Marathon gas station.  At the 31:16 mark, podcasters drop this large, steaming matzah ball into the proceedings:  “As it turned out, our sources tell us, Kegan Kline had searched for the location of the Marathon Gas station in Delphi on the day of the murders.”  The Murder Sheet podcasters go on to detail how the FBI failed to obtain the surveillance footage from the Marathon Gas station, thus eliminating any opportunity to discover whether or not it contained any footage relevant to the investigation.  Could someone resembling Kline or bridge guy have appeared on that footage?

As if Kegan Kline didn’t have enough explaining to do regarding the stack of “coincidences” linking him to Liberty German, or his strange and incriminating online behavior around the time of the murders, now we find out that he or his device is searching a Delphi location the day of the murders.  Of course, there could be a perfectly reasonable explanation involving Kegan falling asleep super stoned and his Las Vegas buddy commandeering his device.  It isn’t hard to imagine Kline spinning some improbable sequence of events.  However, it would be interesting to know when on that day the search took place.  Is the search done around the time of communication with Liberty German?  Is the search done around the time of the murders?  Could the search have been involved in the planning of the crime, or could it have been connected to the commission of the crime?  Maybe it’s just a big nothing matzah ball.        

It is still hard to imagine Kegan Kline as the perpetrator of these murders.  He doesn’t resemble bridge guy and he appears incapable of the physicality required to carry out the attack.  It seems more likely someone else is accessing his device, or he is conducting these incriminating communications and searches at the behest of another.  Regardless, the more details that come out, the more it appears Kegan Kline is the key to unraveling this case and identifying bridge guy once and for all.

Snapchat attacks continue unabated

Anyone who has followed the Delphi murder case and is familiar with the Kegan Kline police interview transcript might understandably wonder what the hell is going on with these social media messaging apps.  According to media outlets, Snapchat and Kik were the preferred avenues for Kegan Kline to connect with underage victims and solicit illegal images.  Well, it turns out Kline is not the only predator who has had success utilizing these platforms to victimize children.  In fact, the modus operandi is so common in the State of Indiana alone, that one wonders if there isn’t a playbook these criminal deviants follow.

A June press release from the Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana offers up two such graduates of the Snapchat and Kik school of child exploitation and victimization.  The June 17, 2022 release titled Two Predators Sentenced to Federal Prison for Sexually Exploiting Four Children They met on Social Media Platforms reads in part:

“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.

“Schafer also met his second minor victim, who was 16, using Omegle and Snapchat. Schafer persuaded this girl to send him sexually explicit images and videos of herself for his sexual purpose.

“Zachary A. Myers, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana and Herbert J. Stapleton, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Indianapolis Field Office made the announcement.

“The FBI Violent Crime Task Force investigated the case. The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department also provided valuable assistance. As part of Israel’s sentence, Judge Pratt ordered that he be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for life following his release from prison and pay $16,000 in restitution to the victims. As part of Schafer’s sentence, Judge Sweeney ordered that he be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for 40 years following his release from prison and pay $6,000 in restitution to the victims. Both Israel and Schafer must also register as sex offenders wherever they live, work, or go to school, as required by law.”

Here again, we have yet another example of the social media apps Snapchat and Kik facilitating a connection between predators and their victims for the purpose of exploitation and abuse.  As we saw with Kegan Kline, who quite openly and brazenly attempted to victimize children using the online profile Emily Anne 45, often the profile ruse is dropped while the predator looks for a reaction to suggestions of sexual activity between the minor and a much older adult.  In one interaction, Kline solicits images and information on behalf of his middle-aged father, which eventually leads to a Skype call taking place.  How is it that these messaging apps, for all their sophistication, allow these clearly illegal conversations to slip by without any red flags going up?

The cases of Israel and Schafer provide a further glimpse into the despicable world these predators inhabit and may even indicate a level of coordination between them.  Israel is using the social media apps Snapchat and Kik to solicit sexual abuse material and arrange meetings to inflict violent abuse and produce CSAM.  He appears to possess an extensive knowledge of ways to choose the most vulnerable and inflict his sadistic abuse on them for pleasure and profit.  For his part, Schafer is abusing at least one of the same victims as Israel, and he’s aware of the video Israel produced with that victim.  

It is difficult to discern with certainty from the press release, but is it the case that these predators are communicating and coordinating with one another on some level?  Are they “sharing” victims?  Israel targets a teen who has already been victimized by her boyfriend.  Schafer targets one of Israel’s victims.  It certainly appears that, at least at some level, these predators are loosely associated.  It is more than just the case that they are swimming in the same waters, but that they are exchanging victims and probably even exchanging information on how to exploit the vulnerabilities of these victims.  Israel produced a video that was in demand.  He also coerced one of his victims to make videos to sell for his monetary benefit.  Obviously, there is a market for these videos.  We know these predators exchange videos, but are they also exchanging information with designs on inflicting abuse?  Could Kegan Kline, as seemingly “a member in good standing” in one of these pedophile circles, have passed on information to a member with extremely violent intentions, who turned around and used that knowledge to carry out his twisted fantasies on two innocent children of Delphi.  It appears increasingly likely.

Interview Room profiler on Delphi predator: “I don’t think it was his first time”

In last Sunday’s The Interview Room with Chris McDonough, former FBI profiler and executive director of the Cold Case Foundation, Gregory Cooper, sketched out a possible profile of the murderer of Abigail Williams, 13, and Liberty German, 14, of Delphi, Indiana.  Assessing solely the Delphi predator’s approach to the crime, Cooper was able to infer a number of probable traits and behaviors exhibited by Bridge Guy.  In a somewhat startling claim, Cooper asserted that he believed this crime was not Bridge Guy’s first attempt to go from fantasy to reality.   

“I don’t think it was his first time.  I think there were other incidents….I think there were other approaches he’s made in the past…maybe other types of assaults…other efforts that have been made.  But he’s been practicing, most likely.”

Although not a lot is known about the actual crime scene, Cooper was able to offer some thoughts on the Delphi predator from what is known.  Former Carroll County Prosecutor Robert Ives has described the crime scene as “odd” and that it displayed at least three “signatures.”  Drawing on that information, Cooper formed some conclusions about Bridge Guy.

“(The presence of) signatures suggest the probability exists that this individual has either committed crimes in the past and/or most likely will commit crimes in the future.”

Cooper also concluded the signatures suggest an emotional and psychological investment in the crime scene.  Whereas Ives described the crime scene as ‘staged’ in an effort to trick investigators, Cooper differs from him on that point.

“This is posing….Posing of the body is more of a signature where you‘re now projecting a psychological perspective….There are things he did with those victims that meant something to him….A projection of the personality of the offender into the crime scene.  It meant something to him.” 

So where does this leave some of the more recent individuals put forward as possible suspects?  Do they fit the profile laid out by Cooper during his appearance on The Interview Room?

Due to the recent release of an FBI search warrant affidavit by the Murder Sheet podcast, a number of online sleuthers have been putting forward the now deceased Ron Logan as the killer of Abby and Libby.  However, from what is publicly known about Logan, he doesn’t seem to fit Cooper’s profile of the Delphi predator.  Additionally, it appears nothing ever came of the search of Logan’s property.  To be sure, Logan would have to be one of the most thoughtless predators in criminal history to commit a crime in what is essentially his own backyard and then make no effort to conceal or dispose of the bodies.       

One individual authorities have looked at pretty intensely is Kegan Kline.  Currently sitting in jail on multiple counts of possession of child pornography, child exploitation and child solicitation, investigators seem to believe he had some involvement or knows something about who perpetrated the murders.  The transcript of his interrogation also reveals investigators attempting to pull Kegan’s father, Tony Kline, into the investigation.  How many of the boxes do either of the Kline’s check on Gregory Cooper’s Delphi predator profile?  Neither of the Klines seem like a perfect fit, but there is much we don’t know about them and it’s possible Cooper’s profile is not without its flaws. 

However, this brings up an interesting comment made by former WISH-TV journalist, Demie Johnson, who, during a recent appearance on the Murder Sheet podcast, related information she received from sources inside law enforcment.  

“Who else are they looking at?  Because I was told in the very beginning when I learned about Kegan Kline that he’s not the guy, he just knows who it is or is part of it.  So, to me, it’s like who do they know it is or who do they think it is and why can’t they go after that person?  What’s missing and was it a mistake by law enforcement?  Did they make mistakes along the way?”

Indeed, one gets the impression from the Kegan Kline interrogation that investigators don’t think he’s the perpetrator.  But due to the fact that he was in contact with Liberty the day of the murders, coupled with the peeping tom incident that arose from exchanges with the anthony_shots profile, Kline clearly has some explaining to do.  Of course, Kline’s father is the closest person in his orbit, but there are probably many others in the Kline milieu and beyond that are being looked at.   

Whoever the Delphi predator is, if he evenly broadly matches Cooper’s profile, it is almost a cosmic certainty that he is deeply immersed in online pornography and some of that most likely involves CSAM.  The likelihood that this crime is linked to some organized ring or loose confederation of child predators of diverse intentions and degrees of depravity seems like a pretty good bet.  Could one of their number have obtained information about the girls via Kegan Kline or the anthony_shots profile and chose that opportunity to make his approach and carry out his dark fantasies?

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.

Following Kegan Kline disclosures, predators continue to utilize Snapchat to claim victims

Following the release in March of a police interview transcript obtained by The Murder Sheet podcast that revealed Kegan Kline of Peru, Indiana, allegedly utilized the social media platform Snapchat to obtain sexually explicit photos of underage girls, multiple offenders in the intervening months have been convicted in Indiana of using Snapchat and Facebook to prey upon underage victims.  

According to WTHR, Kegan Kline currently sits in jail facing 30 charges involving child pornography and child exploitation after admitting “to creating the social media profile ‘anthony_shots’ to meet underage girls and receive sexually explicit photos.”  Kline is also alleged to have been one of the last to communicate with Liberty German prior to her murder on February 13, 2017.

Since these revelations, multiple offenders have been prosecuted and convicted in Indiana for soliciting sexual abuse material from underage victims.  However, even more disturbing, some offenders have used these platforms to meet with victims for the purpose of committing acts of abuse.  According to a May 5, 2022 Department of Justice, Southern District of Indiana press release:

“Gerald Hoye, 43, of Indianapolis, was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison following his guilty plea to sexual exploitation of a child.

“According to court documents, agents with the U.S. Secret Service (USSS) received information from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) that sexually explicit images of a child had been sent from a child’s Facebook account to an adult’s Facebook account. Further information received from NCMEC showed sexually explicit conversations were taking place through Facebook Messenger between the child and the adult.

“Law enforcement officers determined the adult was Hoye, a then-41-year-old truck driver living in Indianapolis. The child victim lived in another state and was under 16 years old. Hoye coerced and manipulated the child by offering her money in exchange for sexually explicit photos and videos. In September of 2019, Hoye traveled to the victim’s home and transported her to another state, where he engaged in illegal sexual conduct with the child.”

For all its sophisticated algorithms, Facebook relies on the NCMEC to detect and identify the exploitation of a child over its own messaging app.  These interactions escalated to the point where “Hoye traveled to the victim’s home and transported her to another state, where he engaged in illegal sexual conduct with the child.”  That is extremely terrifying.  How is it the case that Facebook can detect alleged misinformation on its platform and shut that down, but is apparently clueless when a felony is taking place?    

Around the time the public was learning of Kegan Kline’s horrific exploits, another man was convicted in the Southern District of Indiana for committing similar offenses via Snapchat.  According to a March 17, 2022 DOJ press release: 

“Matthew O. Walker, 28, of Augusta, Georgia, was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to the sexual exploitation of a child.

“According to court documents, Walker sexually exploited 3 Indiana children and 2 children from South Carolina. Walker first came to the attention of federal authorities in the fall of 2019, when Walker had engaged in sexually explicit Snapchat communications with two minor boys in the Southern District of Indiana. Walker misrepresented himself on Snapchat as a teenage girl, persuading minors to create and send him images and videos of themselves engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Walker threatened the minors that he would distribute these images and videos of these minors to their respective families if they did not do as he instructed.

“Federal investigators discovered that Walker was living in Georgia. With assistance from law enforcement there, a search warrant was executed at Walker’s residence. Evidence was seized and Walker admitted to communication with multiple underage boys online. Walker also admitted to receiving child sexual abuse material through Snapchat and other social media platforms. Walker pled guilty to sexual exploitation of a child in a plea that incorporated his criminal conduct against three Indiana children and others.”

Snapchat was also the social media platform of choice for a Bartholomew County, Indiana man who pled guilty to sexually exploiting children in Indiana and California and received over 27 years in federal prison.  According to a February 18, 2022 DOJ press release:

“According to court documents, Jordan Fields, 21, of Columbus, Indiana, sexually exploited children in Indiana and California, and admitted to other acts of exploitation against unknown minors. Fields first came to the attention of federal authorities in the fall of 2020, when law enforcement in California notified authorities in Indiana that Fields had engaged in sexually explicit Snapchat communications with a 13-year-old boy in California.

“The Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Office began an investigation and executed a search warrant at Fields’ home on Nov. 13, 2020. Fields was initially arrested on state charges of child solicitation and possession of child pornography. A team from the Indiana State Police, the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Office, and the FBI reviewed evidence seized from Fields’ home, and Fields was arrested on federal sexual exploitation charges in March of 2021. 

“Fields admitted to communication with multiple underage boys online and admitted to receiving child sexual abuse material through Snapchat and Omegle. Fields pled guilty to three counts of sexual exploitation of a child for his victimization of three southern Indiana children.”

Another Indianapolis man was convicted in May after it was discovered that he had used Facebook to sexually exploit a child.  Per the Department of Justice:

“Ryan Niendorf, 39, of Indianapolis, was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison following his guilty plea to sexual exploitation of a child and attempted sexual exploitation of a child.

“According to court documents, in May 2021, agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) received information from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) that an adult’s Facebook account had been used to engage in sexually explicit communication with a child’s Facebook account. Law enforcement officers determined the adult was Niendorf, a semi-truck driver living in Indianapolis, and police were able to locate the child. Based on forensic evidence found in Niendorf’s account, police arrested Niendorf. Further investigation showed Niendorf persuaded two minors, both less than 16 years of age, to produce sexually explicit videos.”

Based on the information that has surfaced regarding the activities of Kegan Kline aka anthony-shots on the social media platform Snapchat, it is disturbing to see so many additional cases where Snapchat and Facebook were used to intimidate and exploit children, obtain child sexual abuse material, and to even facilitate meetings for the purposes of committing acts of abuse against children.  The preceding cases represent just a few of the convictions obtained within the past few months and are limited to the Southern District of Indiana jurisdiction.  There are other Indiana cases where the internet and/or social media was involved, but specific platforms were not named in the press releases.  Obviously, if one were to expand out to a wider time frame, or to include other jurisdictions than just one in Indiana, the scope of the horror would increase significantly. 

One would hope that eliminating this type of predatory behavior would be a top priority of these social media companies.  But here we are, five years removed from the murders of Abigail Williams and Liberty German, and Snapchat and Facebook continue to be platforms where predators go to victimize children.  We may one day learn that Liberty’s Snapchat activity played no role in the Delphi homicides, but the Kegan Kline interview illustrates in disturbing clarity how vulnerable children are to abuse on these platforms.  While the NCMEC is to be commended for their efforts to monitor these platforms and expose child predators, why aren’t the tech companies themselves doing more to clean up these spaces?

A figure on a bridge

Recent revelations from the Kegan Kline interrogation transcript obtained by the Murder Sheet podcast provide a glimpse into the sinister world of internet child predators.  The lengthy police interview reveals how Kline, operating under the online profile anthony_shots, was able to connect with victims, obtain their trust and convince them to provide images, identities and private details of their lives.  There is even a bizarre portion of the interview where interrogators and Kline discuss a situation where he and another profile seem to be catfishing one another.  However, Kline admits to the police interrogator that he was aware at the time that he was probably interacting with someone more like himself rather than an underrage girl.    

For much of the interview, interrogators confront Kline with evidence that he was almost certainly not the only person with access to the anthony_shots profile.  Investigators zero in on Kegan Kline’s father, Tony Kline, as another individual who could have been logging into the account.  Their interest in Tony Kline could make him a potential suspect in the Delphi murders as well as in a disturbing peeping tom incident referenced in the transcript.  In both instances, the anthony_shots profile was in communication with the girls and had knowledge of their whereabouts prior to the incidents.             

The networking of catfishers along with the potential for multiple individuals to have access to a single profile illustrates how these online predators share their revolting plunder with one another.  It also begs the question, how widely disseminated were the images and interactions obtained by the anthony_shots profile?  Could others, besides the Klines, have obtained information on the victims prior to the incidents discussed in the interrogation?  What is the likelihood that a group could be sharing their twisted fantasies with one another, resulting in someone in their midst manifesting their vile yearnings in the real world?

Around the time investigators announced they were seeking information on the anthony_shots profile, in another part of the State of Indiana, a man named Trent Walker of Spencer County was revealed to have been the mastermind of an online group that preyed upon children.  According to a November 17, 2021 Department of Justice press release, Walker “was sentenced to 210 years in federal prison for sexually exploiting two young children and sharing the images and videos he created.”

The description of Walker’s crimes is beyond horrifying.  “Trent Walker, 36, began sexually abusing one of the victims when she was a toddler. The abuse continued over a six-year period and was sadistic in nature. During the sentencing hearing, Judge Richard L. Young, who presided, noted that Walker’s abuse of the child could fairly be described as torture. Walker also abused a six-year-old child for a several-month period. Both victims were in Walker’s care when he abused them.

“Walker created hundreds of images and videos of his sexual abuse of both victims, which he shared with an online group he ran. The group was dedicated to sadistically exploiting small children, some as young as infants. Walker served as the group’s moderator. He encouraged others to share sadistic abuse material, trained others how to conceal their identities online to avoid detection, and coached members of the group on how to abuse young children psychologically, physically, and sexually,” the press release states.

While Spencer County is hundreds of miles from Delphi, the case is instructive because it exposes not only the lone monster inhabiting a dark corner of an unsuspecting community, but also reveals with terrifying clarity how an individual bent on depravity and destruction is able to connect with, instruct and train a whole network of like-minded predators via the internet.  The online group to which Trent Walker served as moderator was “dedicated to sadistically exploiting small children.”  Walker “coached members of the group on how to abuse young children psychologically, physically, and sexually.”  The idea of a lone individual offender engaging in this type of behavior is chilling enough.  The reality that entire groups exist to promote and spread this evil is disturbing beyond comprehension.  

It’s been five years since the Delphi murders.  Five years ago a figure appeared on a bridge.  His blurred likeness was captured on video for all to see, and his words were recorded for the world to hear.  Yet no one, as far as we know, has been able to recognize and identify the individual.  Adding to the mystery, no one knows definitively how he got out on that bridge or how he fled the scene once he had completed his cruel handiwork.  He disappeared as mysteriously as he materialized, becoming a spirit in the wind, a demonic force evading capture.  Five years ago, on an abandoned railroad bridge 70 feet above a frigid creek, two innocent children of the Delphi community crossed paths with a figure from nowhere.  A sinister force partially molded in the depraved and disgusting hovels of the internet, emerging into the physical world to enact his sadistic nightmares.  No doubt he’ll be found lurking there in his dark sanctuary, concealed in some dread corner of the web.