My parents are unique in that both appeared in separate nonfiction books.
My mother grew up next to James Dodson, a contributing editor and regular columnist for Golf Magazine. His 1996 book Final Rounds referenced how my mother was popular in high school and went on a number of dates.
My father practiced law for years, and early in his career he worked on the Pat Allanson case, which was the focus of Ann Rule’s book Everything She Ever Wanted.
Born in 1937, Patricia Vann Taylor Allanson married at the very young age of fifteen. Her husband was an Army sergeant named Gil Taylor. Pat soon had three children, Susan, Debbie and Ronnie, and they divorced in 1971 as she didn’t enjoy the military life.
In 1973 Pat met Tom Allanson,
the son of a wealthy lawyer who was as passionately interested in horses as she
was. He was six years younger than her. Although she had her eye on someone
else, it looked like Tom could give her everything she ever wanted.
Unfortunately, Tom was married and in the process of an ugly divorce from a
woman known as Little Carolyn. However, the biggest problem for Pat was Tom’s
parents, Walter and Big Carolyn Allanson. They didn’t approve of Pat. They were
gravely disappointed in Tom and viewed divorce as not being an option. They
sided with Little Carolyn, and the relationship between Tom and his family
deteriorated. There were accusations flying between both sides along with
some pretty dreadful threats.
Life started to look up for Tom and Pat. They purchased a
heavily-mortgaged, 52-acre farm in Zebulon, Georgia, and started their dream of
raising and showing horses together. In May 1974 they were married in a
“Gone With The Wind” style ceremony as he was dressed as Rhett Butler
and she as Scarlett O’Hara.
The feud between Tom and his
father over Pat escalated to the point that his father angrily tried to force
Tom out of his life. To get even, Pat filed a complaint of sexual harassment
against him, claiming that he had exposed himself to her. Tom grew alarmed over
this, along with threats that he heard that his father was going to kill him,
so he took out a restraining order. His father on the other hand believed that
his own son was out to kill him. Someone had stolen a pistol and rifle from his
home, and he was convinced it was his son. The police searched Tom’s home and
came up empty-handed. The intense fear and anger continued to grow on both
On July 29, 1974, while taking a trip in their car, Walter
and his wife, Carolyn, were shot at by someone. They survived the attack and
felt sure that Tom had been behind it. The situation between father and son
grew more paranoid until August 3. On that day, Tom dropped Pat off at the
doctor and then walked over to see his mother when he was sure his father would
not be home. Pat had told him that someone had been calling their house all
night long and said nothing. She felt sure it was Walter, so Tom felt it was
time to try to straighten things out. Otherwise, he thought his father might
try to shoot him off his horse in the parade that weekend. His mother was not
home, but Tom felt she would be returning shortly. To avoid the possibility of
running into Walter, he went to the basement to wait for his mother to return.
After receiving a call from an unknown woman informing him
that Tom was at his home, Walter returned home. The electricity was off, so he
went into the basement to look around. He found the switch box had been
tampered with. He attempted to call the police, but the phone line had been
cut. He went to a neighbor’s home to use the phone to get the police out there.
When they arrived, Walter said he’d take care of the situation himself, so they
left. He returned to the basement and started shooting randomly. Carolyn was
home by that time. He called up to her that he had Tom cornered and needed the
gun he’d just purchased, so she grabbed it to bring it to him.
When the police officers
arrived once again in response to an emergency call, they found Carolyn
Allanson dead on the basement steps. Through the basement window, they could
see Walter laying on the ground. He’d been shot numerous times. The police
immediately suspected Tom. He’d been seen there, and a man matching his
description had been seen running from the crime scene.
Tom was soon arrested. When
Pat told a number of lies to the attorney in an alleged attempt to provide Tom
with an alibi, the situation became even more suspicious. Tom had his own story—also
a lie—and it didn’t match with Pat’s story. He was convicted and sentenced to
life in prison. At the time of the murders, he and Pat had been married less
than two months, and now Pat had the farm to herself. It wasn’t long before she
tried to talk Tom into a suicide pact, which he later felt sure was an attempt
to get him to die so she would inherit everything.
Pat began working on Tom’s wealthy grandparents until they finally named her in their will as the primary beneficiary. Her house and barns burned down, and she forged Tom’s signature to get the insurance payments. She feed arsenic laced food to Tom’s grandparents. However, when they grew ill, Pat was caught and sentenced to eight years in prison.