Pat Allanson: The Deadly Magnolia
Patricia Vann was bound to become a teenage mother. Her family tree was filled with women who had started motherhood at an early age, and the fact they could not financially support these children was of little concern.
So Pat wasn't surprised when she found herself knocked-up and unwed at fifteen. She married her teenage boyfriend and left her childhood home, only to return a few years later with three children in tow.
While many young mothers would have felt defeated after a failed marriage, Pat did not. She had big dreams–big, big dreams. All she needed to do was find a wealthy man and convince him to marry her. Of course, this meant she'd have to leave her children behind with her mother to raise, but in a family used to teenage pregnancies, this was not only normal, it was a sort of family tradition.
Over the course of a few years, Pat dated many men, but none struck her fancy. That is, until she met Tom Allanson. Tom was young, handsome, and came from a wealthy Georgia family. His father, Walter Allanson, was a prominent Georgia attorney.
Tom was everything Pat had ever wanted.
Pat cared little that Tom was six years her junior and a married man with a young child. Her only focus was the money, and she was determined to get it.
Pat's high-maintenance attitude seldom earned her the favor of other women, but she was a skilled seductress when it came to men. Tom was no exception. As soon as his divorce was final, he proposed to Pat and although she played coy with, “You don’t want to marry me” a few times, she ultimately agreed.
She was finally living the dream.
Scarlett & Rhett
Pat always compared herself to Scarlett O’Hara, the protagonist from Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 novel Gone With The Wind. Scarlett was a woman who knew what she wanted and wouldn’t stop until she got it, thinking of nobody other than herself. This is how many would describe Pat. The difference between Scarlett and Pat, however, is that the former is fictional. Pat, unfortunately, was not.
To anyone who knew Pat, it wasn't a surprise she would choose a Gone With the Wind theme for her wedding. She and Tom wed in Scarlett and Rhett-style clothing, and bridesmaids wore the dresses of southern belles complete with parasols. When the ceremony was complete, the couple were whisked away in a horse-drawn carriage.
It was certainly a wedding event to remember.
Not So Wedded Bliss
What might have been obvious to others appeared not to be so to Pat. Independently, Tom wasn’t wealthy; it was his parents who controlled the purse strings. Yet try as she may, Walter and Carolyn Allanson refused to accept their son’s divorce, much less his remarriage to some floozy girl with an over-inflated sense of self-worth. Tom's parents felt what he had done was a disgrace to the family.
Tom didn’t care. He was crazy about Pat and determined to give her everything she wanted. So despite the payment being a strain on the household budget, the couple purchased a Zebulon, Georgia, 52-acre farm with a gorgeous old home Pat named Tara and set about their life raising Morgan horses. The heavily mortgaged estate was quite the attraction, even earning a visit from then Georgia governor Jimmy Carter.
To those with only an outsider's point-of-view, it would seem the Allanson's wealth extended to Tom, but the young couple's monthly debt-to-income ratio said otherwise.
Woman With a Vengeance
Walter and Carolyn were so disgusted with their son and his decisions, they made the decision to remove him from their lives and their wills. Instead of Tom inheriting his parent's estate, his son and ex-wife would instead.
Pat was outraged. Nobody, especially not Tom’s parents, were going to stand in the way of getting the money she saw as being rightfully hers.
One day Tom came home to find a disheveled Pat on the porch. When he asked what happened, between sobs, Pat told Tom of visiting his father’s office in hopes of helping the family to reconcile their differences. As she had pleaded for Walter to resolve the issues with his son, the elder Allanson exposed himself while making lewd remarks to her.
Tom was outraged and was intent on confronting his father. Pat, however, insisted he not. She agreed to a restraining order instead. A couple of weeks after the order was granted, Pat told Tom she’d heard rumors Walter intended to kill Tom.
Alternatively, Walter told friends he believed Tom was planning his murder. A pistol and rifle had recently been stolen from his home and he believed it was his son who had done so. Police searched Tara but never found the stolen weapons.
The less communication there was between Tom and his parents, the greater the tension grew among them when they were forced to speak.
It was the perfect setting for a narcissistic sociopathic woman to make her next move.
The Murder of Walter and Carolyn
Anonymous, threatening phone calls were pouring in unrelentingly to both Allansons home. Of course, each blamed the other. Things escalated when Walter and Carolyn found themselves as shooting targets as they drove along a country road. Terrified, the couple notified police, who searched the area for the shooter to no avail.
The Allansons, however, were certain they knew who was responsible.
On the night of July 3, 1974, an anonymous caller spoke to Walter at work claiming to have seen Tom entering their basement.
Walter rushed home and went straight to the basement, where he called for Tom to come out and face him. When he received no response, he began firing a gun wildly around the basement while yelling to Carolyn to call the police.
When the police arrived, they found the bullet-riddled bodies of Walter and Carolyn. The gunman had fled.
While the residents of this small town were busy celebrating Independence Day with picnics and fireworks, Walter and Carolyn were viciously gunned down in the basement of their home.
Of Homicide and Suicide
The feud between the Allansons was no secret to anyone, nor were the reasons why the feud began. So it goes without saying, Tom was detectives' first and prime suspect.
Despite Tom's insistence he did not kill his parents, he was arrested and charged with two counts of homicide. Pat immediately retained the services of a local attorney to represent her husband.
Tom's attorney was often at odds with his client's new bride. She was bossy, critical, and insisted on directing her husband's defense. Pat, however, insisted on Tom and his attorney using her version of events while Tom insisted he just tell the truth. That is, he didn't murder his parents and didn't know who did.
As Tom awaited trial in jail, Pat visited as often as allowed. During one of those visits, she presented Tom with a Bible – one of only a few books inmates were allowed to have from “the outside.” What jail personnel didn’t know, however, is this sacred book was a tool for Pat to instigate a suicide pact.
Thereafter, every chance she got, Patricia begged the man she loved to join her in suicide so they would not be separated. Tom considered it, often thought about it, but simply could not bring himself to carry it out. Pat, of course, never had any intention of following through on her end.
No one was surprised when Tom was found guilty of his parents’ murder and was sentenced to two concurrent life sentences.
Pat cried her crocodile tears in a fantastic display of emotion when Tom was escorted out of the courtroom following his sentencing. The reality, however, was she now had all she ever wanted.
The Search for Wealth Continues
Kentwood Farms, the named given to the property upon which Tara sat, was still heavily mortgaged and the debt was owed mostly to Tom’s paternal grandparents, who were lovingly referred to as Papaw and Nona.
With Walter and Carolyn gone and their grandson in prison, the couple was a prime target for a gold-digging murderer.
Putting on her best Scarlett-like charm, Pat moved the elderly couple into her home and insisted she be their sole care provider. In declining health and with no other family nearby to help them, the couple was thankful for Pat’s generosity.
Soon, Pat had convinced the Allansons that she and Tom, despite his status as a prison inmate, should be the sole heirs of the estate. Papaw and Nona agreed and updated their wills to reflect such; completely disinheriting their only remaining child, Tom's aunt Jean Boggs.
Nona’s health began to deteriorate rapidly. Although she had suffered some ailments for a while, she’d never been bedridden as she was during her stay at Tara.
Papaw was heartbroken and as a result, his health, too, was declining. In just a short time, he’d lost his son and daughter-in-law to murder and his grandson was in prison. His daughter was angry and not speaking to him other than to berate Pat, the one person who seemed to care about something more than his money.
Jean, however, finally broke through. After notifying the authorities of her suspicions, tests showed that Nona and Papaw both had arsenic in their systems, and a surprise testimony from Pat’s daughter, Susan, claiming she saw her mother put arsenic in the elderly couple’s food and drink, caused Pat to finally face the consequences for her actions.
The Scarlett-O'Hare-wannabe went away to prison.
Mary Linda Patricia Vann was the name they gave her at birth. She would have many names in her life. Patricia, rather Pat, was the only one that would stay with her.— Ann Rule, Everything She Ever Wanted
A New Start as Pat Taylor
American prisons, being overcrowded as they are and filled with too many inmates with petty records, allow for murderers such as Pat to be released after a relatively short period of time.
The Georgia Department of Corrections had unleashed a narcissistic murderess on a society completely unaware of the evil slinking among them.
In search of employment, Pat convinced a prominent Atlanta, Georgia, couple, Mr. and Mrs. Jimmy Crist, Sr. to hire her and her daughter, Debbie, as at-home-caregivers. Mr. Crist lived only a short time after Pat began working for them.
The Crist family were convinced Pat neglected Jimmy and poisoned his wife, Betty Crist, but the thefts of Pat and Debbie were the only thing which could be proven. The thieving duo had stolen money and valuables from the couple. It was also learned that Pat had lied about her being a licensed nurse.
Taking full responsibility for the thefts, Pat pleaded guilty to multiple charges in June 1991. She was sentenced to serve another eight years in prison.
Tom Speaks Out
Prison gives a man a lot of time to think, and during his time in prison, Tom had come to realize several things: Pat wasn’t who she pretended to be. She had used him to orchestrate the murder of his parents, and would do anything for riches. Money was the only thing that mattered, and Pat was the only person Pat had ever truly loved.
After serving 15 years in prison, Tom was released. Soon afterward, Tom found himself as someone police wanted to interview. This time, however, they weren’t interested in accusing him of any crime, they wanted to know more about the evil, manipulative woman he’d once called his wife.
Tom was more than happy to oblige.
Pat was released from prison in 1999. She went to live with her stepfather and his new wife, whom he'd married after the death of Pat's mother. There, she opened a doll shop she named Pat’s Pretty Play Things.
In 2008, Pat was charged with doctor shopping and fraudulently obtaining more than 3700 painkillers in less than a year. She was charged with three counts of unauthorized distribution. She entered a plea agreement with a sentence of probation only.
How much more will the lady now known as Pat Taylor get by with before she kills someone else? It may be an extremely rude thing to say, but since Pat is now in her 70s, hopefully she’ll die before she kills someone else.
Tom Allanson has used his experience in prison to create a men’s post-release program: Set Free After-Care. Each year, he provides a multitude of services, including housing for men recently released from prison. His mission is to provide a more smooth transition from prison to society living, in the hopes that fewer inmates will return to a life of crime and ultimately prison.
Pat’s only son passed away in 2004. It was said she engaged in a heated battle with his widow over his remains. Why she believed she was entitled to an opinion escapes most, and the outcome of the disagreement is publicly unknown.
A movie based on the case going by the same title as Ann Rule’s well-written, intense book about Pat Allanson frequently airs on the Lifetime Movie Network.
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© 2016 Kim Bryan