By Mason W. Canales
Killeen Daily Herald
GATESVILLE - Nearly a year after a former pastor's wife died in a trailer fire, a recently released state fire marshal's report provides some insight into what led to her husband's capital murder indictment in the case.
Last March, Paula Allen, 54, died of thermal burns and smoke inhalation in a blaze that state fire investigators determined started in the living room of the couple's home in the 4000 block of East U.S. Highway 84.
In a Jan. 31 indictment, David Allen, 49, the former pastor of New Life Church of Restoration, is accused of using an open flame and an accelerant to ignite the blaze.
Interviews with Allen and a State Farm Insurance agent revealed the couple had inquired about life insurance a month before the fire.
In an initial interview with Coryell County sheriff deputies, David Allen told investigators he was not sure whether the couple received the insurance because they could not afford it.
The insurance agent said David Allen asked her four or five days after the fire if the policy was issued, according to the report. The agent noted he seemed confused.
David Allen's daughter got married and moved out of the house three days prior to the incident, the report stated.
In interviews with deputies shortly after the fire started at 1:15 a.m. March 22, David Allen said he fell asleep in the den while studying the Bible. He began coughing and sat up to see "black smoke" filling the room.
He told deputies he fled the double-wide mobile home through a window and ran around to the front door. He said he saw a fire through a window but did not see his wife or hear their two dogs barking.
David Allen tried to open the front door, but it was dead-bolted, according to the report. He said the door was melting, but that he wasn't burned when he grabbed the door handle.
David Allen said he tried to wake up his wife, who he said he thought was sleeping in the master bedroom, by banging on the house and throwing a birdbath through a nearby window.
"She wouldn't get up, she wouldn't get up ... she wouldn't get up, I don't know why she wouldn't get up," David Allen told the deputies, while crying, the report stated. "I banged on the window, I busted the window."
He said he called 911 after he couldn't get in the house.
First on the scene, a deputy tried to find Paula Allen in the bedroom by standing on the hood of his car parked outside a broken window, but the fire's heat and smoke forced him to retreat.
It wasn't until Gatesville Volunteer firefighters arrived that anyone made entry into the home. Cutting a whole in the bedroom wall, firefighters accessed the bedroom but did not find Paula Allen.
At 2:15 a.m., her body was discovered face up and 12 inches from the front door with her feet pointed toward the living room, where David Allen first said he looked into the home to see the blaze.
David Allen remains in Coryell County Jail. A bond was not set.
Contact Mason W. Canales at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7474.