(NewsNation) — Libby German’s family waited five years for a phone call they received Wednesday.
The police officer on the other line delivered bittersweet news – a suspect in Libby’s killing was in custody. Years have passed since the bodies of Libby and her friend Abby Williams were discovered on Valentine’s Day in 2017 along an Indiana hiking trail. Efforts to pin down the person who might be responsible were unsuccessful — until now.
“We were expecting to be excited and jumping for joy but it brings up a lot of hard memories that now we have to work through again,” Libby’s sister Kelsi German said.
Days after the phone call, the girl’s families received more concrete news. Confirmation that the alleged killer, 50-year-old Delphi man Richard Allen, was officially charged with murder in connection with the teens’ deaths brought some relief. Libby’s grandmother Becky Patty, however, has a hard time envisioning what true justice might look like under such grim circumstance, she said.
“You can’t ever bring the girls back,” Patty said. “But justice for us — the solace that we have is … the world’s a little safer and that he can never hurt somebody else.”
The Indiana State Police announced Monday that Allen faced two counts of murder in connection with Libby and Abby’s deaths. They were 13 and 14 years old, respectively.
The girls had been hiking on the Delphi Historic Trail near the Monon High Bridge on Feb. 13, 2017, but they didn’t show at their pick-up location when their parents arrived, according to early FBI information.
Investigators spent years asking the public for help identifying a man captured in a video that was found on Libby’s phone and had seemingly recorded near where the girls’ bodies were found. The man in the video was shown walking toward the camera and saying, “down the hill.”
Now Libby’s family says they recognize Allen from somewhere else. They believe he was working at their local CVS when they had the girls’ funeral photos printed, Patty said.
“All (my daughter) remembers is that she had sent some photos up there to be developed,” she said. “And then she was picking out some more and he’s the one that gave them to her and then said, ‘You don’t have to pay for those. We’ll take care of that.”
Allen remains in custody at the White County jail, where he is being detained without bond.
Over the years, Patty has grown used to thinking about what to do next, whether she was looking for a suspect or overall keeping the case alive. With Allen behind bars, she’s not sure what to expect.
“I don’t know what my purpose is now,” Patty said. “Before it was to keep the word out there and keep the search on. And now I guess now our purpose is to remind the public that the police are still asking for tips. Maybe it’s easier for somebody to send in a tip now because there is a name.”
The Indiana State Police Department’s tip line can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 765- 822-3535.
As the case plays out in court, Patty does have some plans for her next step.
“In the last five years, I have missed a lot with my other grandchildren,” Patty said. “I never used to miss a ballgame or any event of theirs and I have missed so many of them in the last five years and so many of them have grown up. I look now and my goodness, they’re grown. It will be nice to have the time to go back and reacquaint the way I used to with the kids.”