Allen Blackthorne was a millionaire who plotted the murder of his ex-wife, Sheila Bellush, in 1997. He hired a hitman to kill her in her Sarasota home, in front of her four young children. He was convicted of federal charges for his involvement in the conspiracy and sentenced to two life terms in prison. He died in 2014, at the age of 59, but the cause of his death has not been revealed to the public. What happened to this notorious criminal and what led him to commit such a heinous crime?
The Divorce and the Custody Battle
Allen Blackthorne and Sheila Walsh married in 1982 and had two daughters, Stevie and Daryl. Their marriage was tumultuous and abusive, and they divorced in 1989. They fought over the custody of their children, with each accusing the other of mistreating them. Sheila won the custody battle and moved to Florida with her new husband, Jamie Bellush, and their quadruplets, who were born in 1995. Allen was unhappy with the outcome and tried to harass and intimidate Sheila. He hired a private investigator to track her down and spy on her. He also threatened to kill her several times, according to CBS News.
The Murder Plot and the Execution
Allen wanted to regain custody of his daughters and decided to hire someone to beat up Sheila and make her look like a bad mother. He asked Daniel Rocha, a golfing acquaintance with a criminal record, for help. Rocha agreed to do it for money and a partnership in a golf course development. Rocha then contacted Samuel Gonzales, who introduced him to his cousin, Jose Del Toro, who agreed to do the attack for $14,000.
On November 7, 1997, Del Toro drove to Sarasota in a car registered to his grandmother. He bought camouflage clothes and asked for directions to Sheila’s address at a gas station. He was spotted by a neighbor who memorized his license plate number. He broke into Sheila’s house and found her with her quadruplets. He shot her in the face with a .45 caliber gun and slit her throat. He left her body on the floor, with the children crawling in her blood. Her body was discovered by her 13-year-old daughter Stevie when she came back from school.
The Investigation and the Trial
The police traced Del Toro’s car and arrested him in Texas. He fled to Mexico but was extradited to the US in 1999. He pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and armed burglary charges in Florida and received two life sentences. Rocha and Gonzales were also arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Rocha testified against Allen in exchange for a life sentence. Gonzales received 19 years in prison for his cooperation.
Allen denied any involvement in the murder and claimed he was innocent. He refused to cooperate with the investigators but agreed to speak with 48 Hours, a news program that reviewed his case. He was charged with crossing state lines to commit murder-for-hire and interstate domestic violence against Sheila. He was convicted by a jury in Texas in 2000 and given two life sentences without parole.
The Death of Allen Blackthorne
Allen spent his last years behind bars in various federal prisons. He was stabbed by another inmate with a screwdriver in Texas and transferred to Atlanta for his safety. He was then moved to Terre Haute, Indiana, where he died on November 18, 2014. The Bureau of Prisons did not list a cause of death on its website. According to Wealthy Peeps, the cause of his death has not been publicly disclosed.
Allen’s death marked the end of a long saga of violence, hatred, and revenge that claimed the life of Sheila Bellush and traumatized her family. His death did not bring closure or justice for them, but perhaps some relief from knowing that he could no longer harm them or anyone else.