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Pat Allanson: The Deadly Magnolia

Updated on February 9, 2017
Kim Bryan profile image

Tennessee-based freelance writer with a passion for true crime, a thirst for knowledge, and an obsession with lists.

Patricia Vann never had much of a chance of not becoming a teenage mother. The women in her maternal family tree had been bringing babies into the world in their teens for many generations. The fact they could not financially support those child, was of little concern.

Patricia Allenson
Patricia Allenson | Source

Pat wasn't surprised when she found herself knocked-up and unwed at fifteen. She married her teenage boyfriend, only to return to her mother's home a few years later with three children in tow.

While many young mothers would have felt defeated after a failed marriage, not Pat. 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 for her mother to raise but such, like teenage pregnancies, was a family tradition.

Over the course of a few years, Pat dated many men but none of whom struck her fancy, until she met Tom Allanson. Tom was young, handsome, and from a wealthy Georgia family. His father, Walter Allanson, was a prominent Georgia attorney.

Tom was everything Pat had ever wanted.

Pat cared little Tom was six years her junior or a married man with a young child, her only focus was the money and she was determined to tie herself to 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 related 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, without stopping to think of anyone other than herself; just how many, past and future, would describe Pat. The difference between Scarlett and Pat, however, was the former was fiction. 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 to Tom. 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 held 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 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 ever wanted. So despite the payment being a strain on the household budget, the couple soon 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 on 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 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 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.

Walter Allenson
Walter Allenson | Source

On the night of July 3, 1974, an anonymous caller would reach Walter at work and claim to have just 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 police arrived, it was 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 the reasons why, so it goes without saying Tom was detectives' first and prime suspect.

Despite Tom's insistent 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 – ever. Tom considered it, often thought about it, but simply could not bring himself to carry it out. Pat, of course, never had any intention for 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 and overall but on a fantastic display of emotion when Tom was escorted out of the courtroom following his sentencing. Reality, however, was she now had all she ever wanted – just for her.


Kentwood Farms, the named given to the property upon which Tara sat, was still heavily mortgage and the indebtedness 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.

Doing her best Scarlett 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 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 been 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 span, 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, followed by tests which showed Nona and Papaw both had arsenic in their systems, and surprise testimony from Pat’s daughter, Susan, claiming she saw her mother put arsenic in the elderly couple’s food and drink, Pat finally faced consequences for her actions.

The Scarlett-O'Hare-wannabe had to go to prison for a while.

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, filled with too many inmates who ignored the War on Drugs, results in 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 searching for employment, Pat convinced a prominent Atlanta, Georgia, couple, Mr. and Mrs. Jimmy Crist, Sr. to hire her and her daughter, Debbie, as at-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 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 8 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 herself the only person Pat had ever truly loved.

After serving 15 years in prison, Tom was released. Soon afterward, Tom again 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.

Tom Allanson present day
Tom Allanson present day | Source

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 hopes 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.

© 2016 Kim Bryan


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    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 14 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Kim...I guess I'm falling behind in my reading. I missed this one. Now there's a real sweetheart of a murderess....and she couldn't be stopped! Twice convicted and placed behind bars~~how was she not considered too damned dangerous & crazy to be released? She was a doozy!

      Another good review of another true life murder case. Paula