Investigation Discovery’s ‘Lone Star Murders: Fire & Brimstone’ chronicles the gruesome murder of 54-year-old Paula Allen in Gatesville, Texas, in March 2011. The investigators painfully collected evidence over a couple of years, interviewed dozens of people, and refuted claims before arresting the perpetrator responsible for the crime. If you’re interested in finding out more about the case, including the perpetrator’s identity and current whereabouts, we’ve got you covered. Let’s begin then, shall we?
How Did Paula Allen Die?
Paula Diann Wright Allen was born to the late C.B. Wright and Lena Dixon Wright in Gatesville, Texas, on April 29, 1956. She was raised and attended school in Gatesville, graduating from Gatesville High School in 1974. She got married to David Keith Allen on August 1, 1992. Her daughters reminisced how their mother had nurtured a vision for the City of Gatesville in her heart, trying to help the community in all manner possible. She was also active in her church and assisted her husband in his ministry.
Hence, it was shocking when David made a frantic 911 call at about 1:14 am on March 22, 2011, stating their double-wide mobile home was on fire, and his wife was still inside, possibly asleep in bed. Gatesville Fire Chief Billy Vaden recalled how the firefighters arriving on the scene found the trailer fully engulfed. They forced their way inside but could not find Paula inside the bedroom. The 54-year-old mother was eventually located a few inches from the front door, beneath part of the collapsed roof. According to her autopsy report, she died of smoke inhalation and thermal injuries.
Who Killed Paula Allen?
Paula’s elder daughter, Miranda Waters, recalled on the show how she was unsure about how her mother met David. But she remembered how the family was not religious initially and did not even attend church until they were involved in a car accident in June 1995. The Allens were driving somewhere when David accidentally went off the road and crashed the vehicle. Though nobody was injured, Paula recounted how upset her parents were and how the car wreck changed their lives forever.
David and Paula were hired as the pastors of the New Life Restoration Church, located in the 4000 block of US Highway 84 East, on May 23, 2009, 14 years after the automobile accident. Their daughters Miranda and Malissa Casas recounted how their parents changed after becoming pastors. They began instilling strict discipline within the household and stayed away from their daughters for long hours, with Malissa alleging how lonely she used to feel. Miranda stated she moved away after she turned 17, and her relationship with her parents ceased for a while.
However, they reconnected when Malissa was engaged, and the entire family celebrated the ceremony together. Hence it was devastating when the daughters learned about how their mother had perished in a house fire a couple of years later in March 2011. The investigators questioned David, who told them he had fallen asleep earlier on the night of March 22 in a recliner at the west end of the home. He stated he was awoken by the smell of smoke at around 1:00 am and instinctively escaped through the window.
David claimed he attempted to re-enter the trailer to save his sleeping wife but was unable to reach her despite his desperate efforts. The Coryell County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement shortly stating no foul play was suspected. However, the Coryell County sheriff’s deputies and the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office launched an investigation soon after that continued for nearly ten months before they determined the perpetrator. Coryell County Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Joe Blakley stated, “They take time to really go through, especially on an arson.”
The arson experts observed the burn patterns and traced the fire travel movement to determine the area of the origin to be the living room. They looked around and found no candles, kerosene, or other inflammatory substance. Since the devoutly religious couple did not smoke, they eliminated accidental and weather-related causes. The investigators also brought in an electrical engineer to examine the electrical wiring of the living room before eliminating that probability too.
With electrical, natural, and accidental causes ruled out, the arson experts determined the fire was set intentionally. After Paula’s funeral, the investigators were flooded with calls from David’s congregation members, alleging an affair with a younger female member, Megan Allen. The officers interviewed several of them to learn Megan was smitten with David, and there had been several instances where the two had been seen sharing intimate moments.
Former Associate Pastor Mike Stidham claimed Paula had confided in him in January 2011 about witnessing David and Megan sharing a deep embrace in front of the altar. However, she swore him to secrecy, stating a leak could hamper the church’s integrity. The officers brought David in for questioning on June 28, 2011, and found signs of deception in his voluntary polygraph test results. He had also told the officers about how an insurance company had turned down their joint insurance policy purchase after he failed the physical evaluation.
However, the episode showed David had slyly omitted that Paula had a $250,000 insurance policy, which had taken effect the day before the fire. The officers learned David had also gone to claim the insurance within months of Paula’s death. With money and a possible affair motive, David became the principal person of interest in the homicide investigation. It was further strengthened when Megan and David announced their January 21 wedding in newspapers on January 5, 2012.
Where is David Allen Now?
The police arrested David on January 31, 2012, after he returned from his honeymoon with Megan and charged him with capital murder in Paula’s death. A forensics team found inappropriate text exchange between the two while David was still married, with them exchanging 256 texts on March 17, 2011, five days before the murder. However, the investigators noted that proving arson was increasingly challenging in court, and the perpetrators could get acquitted if a jury did not agree with the evidence.
In April 2013, Megan perjured herself while stating about her relationship before a grand jury and was charged with aggravated perjury. It was around this time David came to know she was pregnant with their child, and the investigators hoped to use this as leverage to get him to accept a plea deal. On November 20, 2013, David pleaded guilty to arson causing death and was sentenced to 15 to 30 years in prison.
As a part of the plea bargain, he waived his right to appeal and agreed to abandon the insurance claim. In return, the prosecution dropped the charges of aggravated perjury against his current wife, Megan, then 28. According to court records, the 60-year-old is incarcerated at the James “Jay” H. Byrd Jr. Unit in Huntsville, Texas. His inmate records state he can be eligible for parole in January 2027, while his projected release date is in 2042.