• December 22, 2014

Autopsy results prolong fire investigation

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Posted: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 12:00 pm

By Mason W. Canales

Killeen Daily Herald

GATESVILLE - The autopsy report returned last week couldn't determine the manner in which a Coryell County woman died in a fiery blaze in March.

Coryell County Justice of the Peace Coy Latham said the full autopsy performed on Paula Allen, who died in a fire at her home in the 4000 block of East U.S. Highway 84 about 1 a.m. March 24, didn't provide enough evidence to show whether her death was an accident, from natural causes, a suicide or a homicide.

"All the autopsy showed was the cause of death was thermal burns and smoke inhalation, but the manner was undetermined," Latham said. "I don't have enough evidence going either direction."

Firefighters working the incident that day found Allen about a foot from the front door of the home underneath a portion of the roof that collapsed, according to Killeen Daily Herald archives. Allen's husband, David, was home at the time of the blaze and called 911.

He told firefighters he attempted to enter the house, but was overcome by smoke and flames. When firefighters arrived, he told them his wife was probably in the back room, and firefighters entered that area to search for her.

They later found her in the front of the home.

David Allen is the former pastor at New Life Church of Restoration.

The Coryell County Sheriff's Office has been investigating the incident, Sheriff Johnny Burks said.

"Any time there is an investigation like this, we try to investigate it until we absolutely know what happened," Burks said.

Fires provide a challenge to the investigation because a lot of the evidence burns up, he said.

"There is a lot of things that you have to rely on witnesses, and the autopsy report," he said.

Despite the autopsy report not offering the manner of Allen's death, the investigation is open, Burks said.

"We will continue to look into it," he said.

Latham said if the sheriff's office determines there was criminal activity leading to Allen's death, he can amend the manner of death on the autopsy's findings at a later date.

Contact Mason W. Canales at mcanales@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7474. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcoveeditor.

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