Wednesday, July 28, 2010
The Case of Shawn Allison
On November 20, 2000 Shawn Joseph Allison was found dead of a gunshot wound to the face in his cabin in LaPine, Oregon. He was 29 years old.
Shawn’s body was found by “Tad” Leighton Keith Shirley II, a friend of Jessica McEwen, the woman Shawn was seeing. Tad said that Jessica’s mother asked him to go “check on Shawn.” This is odd to Shawn’s sister Rita, because Jessica came to the cabin whenever she wished. Why send Tad?
Tad phoned the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Department at 11:36 am, yet Shawn’s neighbors saw Tad at the cabin at 9 am, sitting on the porch steps making phone calls. When one neighbor asked what was going on, Tad said, “Don’t go inside. Shawn’s shot himself.” Why wait two and a half hours to call police and who was Tad calling?
One of the phone calls he made was to Shawn’s friend Buster Tate at 10 am. Buster in turn called Shawn’s mother Veronica’s boyfriend. The boyfriend and Veronica arrived at the cabin minutes after sheriff’s deputies got there. They were met by Deputy Gary Decker, who asked them who they were. When Veronica said, “I’m Shawn’s mother,” Deputy Decker said, “They weren’t supposed to tell you!” It is Oregon statute that the next of kin must be notified. Who was Decker referring to when he said “they?”
Veronica watched in a state of shock as a mortician took away her son’s body. The family has since learned that it was illegal for Deputy Decker to permit the removal. Under Oregon law, only the coroner has the authority to release the body for burial.
Stunned, but still trusting the police, Veronica agreed to have Shawn’s body cremated. Decker asked her if Shawn had ever threatened suicide. She replied, “Yes. He threatened a lot of things back when he was told he was dying of cancer.” Without allowing her to explain that the cancer scare had been eight years earlier, Decker declared Shawn’s death a suicide.
Although the police took pictures, they conducted no investigation. No autopsy was performed. No fingerprints were taken. There were no ballistics tests. The cartridge and the bullet both “disappeared.” A sheriff’s captain pointed out a spot in the middle of the room and told Veronica, “He stood there when he shot himself.” Yet you can see from police photos that Shawn’s body was found across the room on a couch where he “bled out,” and a gun was under his feet. How did Shawn get to that couch unless somebody placed him there? And how could he shoot himself if his feet were on top of the gun?
Under Oregon Statute, if an unnatural death is not witnessed or attended by a physician, it is to be considered a homicide until such time as the evidence warrants other findings. This was not done in Shawn’s case.
According to Rita Allison, the sheriff’s department does not have a stellar reputation. In the years since Shawn’s death, then sheriff Greg Brown has been arrested for embezzling a quarter of a million dollars from the local fire district and later for selling rifles from the sheriff’s department and pocketing the money. Two of the deputies involved in Shawn’s case, one of them the DARE officer at LaPine High School, were arrested for having sex with teenage girls, giving them drugs and attempting to put sex videos on the internet.
The family feels they cannot get an outside agency involved in this investigation unless they can get the finding of suicide removed from Shawn’s death certificate. When they made an appointment to talk to the county coroner who signed the death certificate without viewing Shawn’s body, he kept them waiting for five hours and then charged them money to see him.
As of now, the death of Shawn Allison officially remains a suicide. Did he really take his own life or is someone getting away with murder?