Victim impact statement

Victim impact statement as printed in the Missourian newspaper on October 6, 2017. And reproduced below:

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In these next few minutes, I don’t know what will happen with my emotions. If I don’t seem emotional in this moment, it’s because over the months since Nov 3 2016 the emotions of pain and anger have been so overwhelming, in order to get through this thing that I have to do right now, I can’t let them well up or I might not get through this.

I have lived through four huge traumas since this all started. First, my dad is dead. I’m sure that is hard for all of us who have lost a parent. But the manner in which I lost him — murder — is the second trauma. My dad died alone, in terror, and by violence. The third trauma is the news Prosecuting Attorney, Robert Parks, delivered to me: that he was offering my dad’s killers an amazingly generous plea deal in which Second Degree Murder is reduced to Involuntary Manslaughter. With Mr. Parks’ soft deal in hand, the people who killed my dad could be out on parole in just two years.


The fourth trauma is that Mr. Parks has made a disgusting accusation against my dad. That the man who is responsible for representing the people of the community that includes my family, and is responsible for getting justice for victims of crime, should attack my family in such a shocking way, has hurt us all the more by blindsiding our trust in him.

One of the first nightmares I had after my dad was murdered, I remember screaming after dad as he was “leaving”, fading away: “Dad stay! Dad STAY!! DAD STAY!!!!”

The home I grew up in is now the HOUSE OF MURDER. Every family photo taken at our home is ruined. I see photos of us on the front porch, near the front door. That’s where we would have BBQs, sit by the firepit listening to cicadas, and make homemade ice cream. That’s the door where my dad’s bound and murdered body lay. I see photos of the living room and entryway. That’s where he struggled with his murderers. That’s where they knocked him to the ground and hogtied him and MURDERED HIM. I can never ever see family photos again without this being the first thing I think and feel.

The night before our house became the house of murder, my dad was going to sleep, to rise early to drive down to the Bootheel of Missouri, to the farm on which he grew up, to move his mother, my Grandma Malinda Allen, into our home to care for her. He never made it. She is another victim of this murder. At age 89, she died of a broken heart, a few months after he was murdered… Which is to say, she committed suicide. Malinda’s heart was crushed, and last March she decided she no longer wanted to live, she stopped eating. Eventually she did die, on March 19th, with her only remaining son Jeff, and her daughter-in-law Debbie sitting by her side.  I will never again be able to visit my grandma Malinda Allen on the family farm in the Missouri bootheel.

I will never again be able to visit my mom and dad in their home. I will never be able to visit my maternal grandma, Gaynelle, in her home near my parents’ house to help her in her garden, which was our favorite thing to do together. Both my grandma Gaynelle and my mother have had to abandon their homes out of fear and trauma.

I get to live with the awful images in my mind of how my dad’s body was found after he was murdered. Laying there RIGHT INSIDE the front door, my front door, dead, hogtied with phone and lamp cord. Were these cords from our phones and lamps? Did the murderers bring their own? According to dad’s friend who found his body that morning, he was facing the door, chin on the floor face upward, face blue and eyes open looking up, lying in a pool of his own blood, blood coming out of his nose and mouth. DEAD! Laying there only wearing his boxer shorts. DEAD!

The official cause of my dad’s death, as stated on the death certificate, is asphyxiation from neck compression.

On Monday September 18th, 2017 at 5pm, seventeen hours before the plea hearing, I spoke on the phone with the Forensic Pathologist who performed the autopsy on my dad and wrote the report. He said the following to me: “The reason the asphyxiation occurred is because someone applied pressure to your father’s neck. That’s what’s going on here. It’s not a positional thing. It’s an asphyxial thing due to pressure of another human being putting pressure to his neck, choking off and starving his body of oxygen going to his brain and to other vital structures.”

On February 27th, 2017, Prosecutor Parks told me something totally different about my dad’s death. And I believed him, Mr. Parks being a public official representing the State and the law, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Mr. Parks told me that when they hogtied my dad, one or more of the defendants were sitting on him, or maybe had a knee in his back, which caused my dad to suffocate while they were tying the cords around his hands and feet.

Mr. Parks description blatantly contradicts what the Forensic Pathologist, the doctor who examined my dad’s body, told me.

The doctor told me that Mr. Parks has never contacted him regarding my dad’s autopsy or the findings in the report. Mr. Parks’ did not ask for any kind of clarification of the cause of death: asphyxiation from neck compression.

Thirty minutes before the plea hearing for Wonish and Robins (September 19, 2017), friends and family gathered in a conference room with Mr. Parks. I raised the issue of this discrepancy of my dad’s cause of death with Mr. Parks. He became impatient and angry, interrupted me, and refused to “argue” with me, as he put it. I told him the Forensic Pathologist said no one from his office contacted him regarding interpretation of the autopsy. Mr. Parks denied it. My mother questioned Mr. Parks on his claim that the defendants were high at the time of my dad’s murder, and can’t remember anything they did. How could anyone know they were high at the time, especially when they were apprehended approximately 20 hours after the murder? Upon that questioning, Mr. Parks exploded at my family. He said to us, in front of my 93 year old grandmother, “Do you want the truth?! The truth was your husband was a pedophile!”

My dad was NOT a pedophile. My dad was NOT a child molestor. My dad was gay, though my parents chose to remain married. Being gay, and being a pedophile or a child molester, are NOT the same thing. Mr. Parks claims my dad was under investigation for this alleged pedophilia. He said that this investigation was never completed, and we have no right to see any documents or evidence of the investigation, which was run out of the Drug Task Force at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.

Mr. Parks seems, in his own mind, to have already tried and convicted my dad of pedophilia, and found death to be an appropriate sentence. If someone wanted to “get” my dad, and destroy his reputation, all they would have to do was make these false accusations. My dad kept his private life private, but many people knew that he was gay. Anyone wanting to believe evil about him could listen to that slander, and make the illogical leap from being gay, to being a child molester. Those unproven accusations are now being used as an excuse for murder. The defendants are using the false accusations against my dad to leverage a plea bargain that makes a mockery of justice, and the Prosecuting Attorney seems bent on helping them do just that.  

On one hand, Mr. Parks says the defendants cannot remember what they did, and so he allows them an Alford plea as part of their very generous bargain. On the other hand, he says the defendants came to my dad’s house to confront my dad about their brother, Derrick Schindler. My dad had been trying to help Derrick get clean and get treatment. If they came to confront my dad at his house, was this murder premeditated?

So, I return to the defendants and their crimes against my dad. What is involuntary about any of the actions these defendants did to my dad? They hogtied him! How completely vulnerable, paralyzed and helpless. How demeaning. I have to bear this knowledge and these images in my being of my home and my dad, who I loved. His murderers ransacked his house, then robbed him of his dignity, even in death. I have to live with terrible questions. How much violence was there? Just how much pain did my dad endure?? My dad experienced ABJECT TERROR in his final moments before a death he knew was coming. Did he die slowly and fully aware of it, or did he die immediately from the choke hold one of you put on him? Did you choke him after you tied him up or right when you burst through our front door? From the moment you entered our front door my dad probably knew it was the end. How long did it take his life to drain away? How did his body feel struggling against yours in your embrace of death? How did it feel when he lost the battle, and his body went totally limp in your arms? Did you drop him to the floor? Did you lay him down gently? I have to carry those images in my heart for the rest of my life, knowing I may never have answers.

Felony murder is the normal charge when a death — even a purely accidental death — occurs during the commission of a felony. If they had not committed the felony of burglary against my dad, and if they had not unlawfully restrained my dad, or put a choke hold on his neck, he would be alive today and we wouldn’t be having this nightmare. When you put a choke hold on my dad, what is it you intended to do to him?  My grandma Malinda Allen would be living with my dad in that house today, and she too is dead as a result of this. Your acts are no accident. There is nothing “involuntary” about crushing an elderly man’s neck until he dies.

I have to live with the knowledge that my dad died alone, no loved ones with him to hold his hand or comfort him in his journey into death. Instead, the last people he saw were these vile sociopaths, career criminals bent on terrorizing and murdering him. My dad DID NOT DESERVE THAT.

He tried to help these people. He was a probation and parole office and a drug and alcohol abuse counselor. All my life, I remember him giving so much of his time and energy to helping people who were down and out and used substances to help them feel better. I watched him do this all of my life. A friend and colleague of dad’s recently said to me that some of the people my dad helped, none of the professional community thought these people could be helped or deserved help … and yet my dad selflessly stepped up to help. “Not on my watch!” he’d say. I hated watching my dad do that. My dad had a big, huge heart. And I watched his heart and his generosity so often get used and abused, time and time again. And yet he would go on and turn the other cheek. He has had more than a few success stories in helping people, not only in this county but surrounding counties as well. People who were suffering, whom he helped, who went on to pick themselves up and become successes and some of them became good friends of his and our family. He worked to heal the people around him, and protect those who could not protect themselves. He would not have wanted dangerous, remorseless killers back in the community he spent his life serving.

My dad knew the defendants. The defendants knew my dad, and they knew he would identify them as the perpetrators. Killing him was the only way they could hope not to be identified by my dad the very next day — unless killing my dad was really their main goal, and all along they knew that he would not be alive to hold them accountable.

I have to live with bearing the unbearable. The possibility my dad’s killers might be back on the streets in less than 10 years, and maybe as few as 2 years, despite their long string of offenses, despite their violence, despite their utter disregard for the suffering of another human being, is beyond belief. How do I bear the unbearable?? I ask the court to help me bear the unbearable, by giving my family what justice you can: reject the plea bargain and send these brutal murderers to judgement by a jury of their peers.

Kathy Allen, daughter of Ken Allen.

 

 

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