Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Women Who Kill: Part Two

Killing Through Others III

Pat was left alone, so she 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. Then she laced food with arsenic to feed to Tom's grandparents. However, when they grew ill she was caught and ended up in prison for eight years.

Once she got out, she started up again with her scheming. She persuaded a wealthy couple from Atlanta, Mr. and Mrs. James Crist, to hire her as a nurse. It wasn't long before they, too, got sick and the husband died.

In the meantime, Tom had served 15 and a half years and gotten out on parole. Investigators on the Crist case arranged to see him to find out what had happened the day he had shot his parents. It was their belief that Pat had not only choreographed the entire episode by fanning the flames of paranoia between father and son and then by sending them into a head-on confrontation, but also that she had fully expected Tom to die. The investigators believed Pat had hired someone to ambush Walter and Carolyn and to cut their phone lines, but they couldn't prove anything. Tom's story might solve the riddle.

As they spoke with him, a new piece of information came out: after shooting his parents in self-defense — afraid they meant to trap and kill him — he had run to find Pat and she had told him to find his own way home — 60 miles away. He had done so without question. Both of them had denied seeing each other that morning, and even as he protected Pat, it wasn't long before he had wondered if he and his father had both been set up. Pat was a liar, Tom told the investigators. "Pat was a headstrong, manipulative type person that would do anything to get what she wanted — and you do not know she was doing it." He had given her everything: his money, his power of attorney, his home, and his heart, and she had taken full advantage. The tragedy of his life would never have happened, he believed, if he hadn't married Pat.

Once again, Pat was facing prison time. In a shrewd and controversial plea bargain, she agreed to seven charges, including theft, attempted murder, and posing as a registered nurse, with the proviso that she never be charged with the murder of Mr. Crist or investigated for the murder of Tom's parents. One again, she was sentenced to eight years.

In an update on her Web site, Rule writes that Patricia Allanson has been free from prison since 1999 and lives with her stepfather and his new wife.

While it seems evident that Pat was among those women who set other people up to kill, some women do the killing and then deflect the blame to others.

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