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For years, Libby German’s family was haunted by who could have killed the 14-year-old and her 13-year-old best friend Abby Williams after the two teens disappeared from a hiking trail in Delphi, Indiana in 2017.
Now, they know her suspected killer was “hiding in plain sight.”
“It’s a small community,” German’s grandmother and guardian Becky Patty told ABC News after police announced the arrest of 50-year-old Richard Allen. “For it to be one of us, it’s hard.”
Allen, a resident of Delphi, is facing two counts of murder in the deaths of German and Williams, who were found slain the day after they disappeared in a wooded area near the Delphi Historic Trail, about a half-mile from where the teens had been dropped off to spend the day hanging out.
Allen has pleaded not guilty in the case.
Shortly after a press conference Monday announcing the arrest, German’s grandfather Mike Patty said the suspected killer had been “hiding in plain sight” for years, according to The Journal & Courier.
He called the arrest “somewhat bittersweet” and noted there was still a long road to justice for the girls.
“We’ve still got, now we’ve got a big mountain ahead of us. And we’re going to stay after it. We have never given up. And you guys have not given up on us. We’re going to keep pushing all the way,” he said.
While Mike said he didn’t know Allen, Becky remembered that Allen had once processed photos of the girls at a local drug store where he worked and didn’t charge the family.
“That is accurate,” she told reporters.
Aside from his job at the pharmacy, others remembered Allen dining with his wife at the Brick & Mortar Pub in Delphi, a town that is home to about 3,000 people.
“One of my servers was telling me that he wouldn’t speak much; his wife would order the food and that they would split it,” general manager Chandler Underhill told WXIN-TV. “He didn’t really speak.”
Investigators declined to release any details about what led them to Allen as a suspect in the case or whether he may have known the teens before the double homicide.
One of the few clues in the case had been a cell phone video German had taken on her phone of a man dressed in blue jeans, a blue coat or jacket and a hoodie, walking along the trail. She had also captured audio of a male voice saying “down the hill.”
Police took Allen into custody Wednesday and he was formally charged two days later with the murders after Carroll County Prosecutor Nicholas McLeland said a judge “did find probable cause.”
McLeland said the probable cause statement in the case has been sealed and no details are being released in an effort to protect the integrity of the investigation.
For German’s family, the arrest has brought mixed emotions.
"We were called in on Wednesday to tell us they had detained somebody, so we’ve had a couple more days to process this," Becky said, according to the local paper. "I don’t feel like I thought I would. I’ve always said that I would be screaming on the rooftop. We’re not. It’s sad.”
She added that the family will now have to figure out how to shift into a new phase in the investigation.
"While there’s somebody that’s been arrested, our lives for five and a half years have been in a search mode and that’s what we’ve done,” she said. “We’re not doing that anymore. So we’re all just kind feeling our way and figuring out what our purpose is now. What do we do next. How do we help."
The family urged anyone with information about the case to come forward so that investigators will have all the information they need to find justice for the teens.
“There's a lot of questions we have that are unanswered," Mike said, "but all in due time that will come."
Libby’s sister, Kelsi German, told ABC News that although she’s always believed the girls’ killer may have been nearby, she was struck by the fact that he could have been “right here among us,” throughout the investigation.
Libby’s mother, Carrie Timmons took a moment to thank the community for their support over the years in a statement to WTHR.
“I have begged, pleaded and prayed to hear these words for nearly 6 years! But nothing could prepare me for the feeling of sitting there and actually hearing them,” she said. “To say it's been an emotional rollercoaster would be a great understatement. That being said, i know that this is just the beginning.
Over the next few weeks, months and maybe even years, the story will finally be told. Justice will finally be served. Hopefully questions will be answered and we as a family and community can begin to heal.”
Timmons also spoke directly to her daughter.
“Justice is finally coming, Libs!! It's going to be a long and bumpy road. But I'm ready for the journey. Maybe then we can have some peace. I love you most.... #pinkiepromise.
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