When a couple divorces the claws come out. So often it is only then that allegations of abuse arise and while this is sometimes the case, the courts have become leery of these allegations over the years because so many times it has been found to be false. Judges and courts are left to decide who to believe in cases. I had a personal experience in my own previous divorce that left me wondering if false allegations would land me in legal trouble and left my family fearing for my life. I was less concerned with the latter but looking back I have often wondered if I was not just too naive to believe things could have been worse after learning more things.
The case involving Allen Blackthorne and his ex-wife Sheila Bellush was just as muddied. The couple had married in 1982 and had two daughters, Stevie and Daryl. While throughout my research I found instances where it stated they were divorced in either 1986, 1987, 1988 or 1989 (yes it was crazy how many different years I saw stated) I am sticking with 1987 as it was the year given in one of the official court appeals. Sometime that year Allen was arrested and later pleaded guilty to domestic abuse against Sheila. He would later claim that he had hit her because she had been abusive to the children and that he had “only” hit her once. It would be the only thing that Allen Blackthorne would ever seem to admit to. Over the next decade it seems that the relationship between Allen and Sheila got worse. There were continued allegation of abuse to the children from both sides. At some point Sheila accused Allen of sexually abusing their oldest daughter. There seem to be reports that these were false. In turn both were still accusing the other of abusing the children. All of this was taking place where they both lived in San Antonio Texas.
While my research was unclear considering that most of the information I found pertained to Sheila's 1997 murder, at some point, I believe during their marriage Allen had become what was called a millionaire. This came about from his development of a medical device that stimulated muscles and helped in medical recovery. By the early 2000's his company was said to be worth nearly $4.5 million but it seems that once he sold off the device Allen's time was spent more on a golf course than in a lab or an office and he just reaped the benefits of his discovery. However, the fact that he did have money throughout the marriage and after meant that a divorce settlement and child support payment would likely be more.
During all the turmoil going on between Allen and Sheila after their divorce Sheila would come to meet a man named Jamie Bellush. The two would marry in 1993. The abuse allegations would continue on both sides and apparently in early 1997 they wee still arguing over custody of the girls even though Sheila had official custody. In July of that year Allen, despite having continued to fight for custody suddenly he voluntarily terminated his parental rights. Some say that this came about because Sheila had threatened to bring up the sexual abuse charges again, other says that it had really all come down to Allen not wanting to pay support. However, even his family members have stated that winning was most important to Allen and this was a loss to him. It appears it was less about his children than it was about “beating” Sheila. It appears that despite his termination of rights he was still stalking, harassing and manipulating Sheila and the girls. By this time Sheila had given birth to quadruplets and become someone of a “local celebrity.” Some say this too was a thorn in Allen's side. It's been alleged that he was angered not just because Sheila had bested him, but she was none the worse the wear for it. And, the odd thing is that Allen had already re-married himself at least once in that time period. It would be married a total of four times.
Things did not appear to get better for Sheila despite Allen terminating his rights. By this time she had two teenage girls and if you know anything about raising teen girls then you know it likely was not easy for her, or the girls. At some point though, whether it was at the time of the termination is unclear, Jamie Bellush had apparently officially adopted Stevie and Daryl. However, at least from Daryl's point of view that did not change a lot. Allen was still secretly contacting Daryl, something apparently Sheila and Jamie and forbidden. At some point in September of 1997 there was an argument over Daryl having contact with Allen and amid the confrontation either Sheila or Jamie had struck Daryl. Daryl was removed from the home for a short period of time but the strangest part about this was that the neighbors were seeking custody of Daryl. Stranger than that was the fact that the neighbors were being represented by lawyers that also had represented Allen Blackthorne in the past. Eventually the neighbors gave up the fight and apparently Sheila thought all was settled and Daryl went back home.
A short time after this Jamie Bellush had accepted a job in Sarasota Florida. Presumably the family thought it would be a fresh start. One of the big problems was however that from the outside it looked like they were fleeing any legal issues from the situation with Daryl and Allen Blackthorne was sure to do all he could to continue to make it look that way. Considering that Allen no longer had any legal rights to the children it also meant that Sheila had no legal right to inform him and considering the disruptions that it had caused in her life she did not want him to know where they were moving to. In fact, the earlier incident with Daryl may have been instigated from this as Allen knew later they had moved to Florida but little to nothing else.
After Sheila, Jamie and the children moved to Florida Allen went as far as hiring a private detective to find them. It appears that the PI found the city but not officially the address or a complete way for Allen to contact. That did not stop him though. Through some sort of channels Allen was able to insinuate that Sheila continued to be abusive to Daryl or that the case in Texas was not closed and Daryl was taken to a youth shelter for a few days until things were sorted out. In fact, some research indicated that Daryl had continued at least some contact with Allen throughout and she would say later had encouraged her to contact authorities. Years later Daryl would admit that she had exaggerated the situation with her mother and she had done things as asked of her by Allen. While Daryl was in the shelter she continued for a while apparently to resist telling Allen the family's address. Later a worker from the shelter would tell authorities that Allen called the shelter several times in attempts to get the Bellush address. Daryl would later say that Allen had promised to come visit her at Christmas but convinced that he needed the address to do so. Three days after she gave Allen the address, her thirteen year old sister, Stevie would return home from school on November 7, 1997, to find their mother dead and her two year old siblings covered in her blood.
Sheila Bellush had been shot in the face with a .45 caliber handgun and her throat had been cut. Forensics were taken around the home and a fingerprint was found on the clothes dryer. A neighbor had seen a strange car in the area that day with Texas license plates and had memorized the plate number. Quickly authorities figured out that the fingerprint and the car were connected to a man named Joey Del Toro but he could not be found. Del Toro had fled to Mexico after the murder and it would take almost two years before he would be found and extradited to the United States. In the meantime authorities had to figure out how Del Toro connected to Sheila and why he would want her dead. Suspicion quickly went to Allen but it took a while to get the evidence.
Investigators started by figuring out who Del Toro was. From there they found that he had a cousin named Samuel Gonzalez. Gonzalez was friends with a man named Daniel “Danny” Rocha and Rocha was golfing buddies with none other than Allen Blackthorne. It all seemed to circle back but they still obviously had to prove the connection through evidence. They already had people who had let them know Allen's hatred for Sheila and his seemingly constant comments about wanting her dead. And on top of all of this Allen was not cooperating with the authorities. This would be brought up in his later trial as the defense attempted to cast doubt on Jamie Bellush claiming that there was no confirmation that he was where he said he was but the prosecutor pointed out that Jamie had always been cooperative, unlike Allen. It still took a bit though. Authorities were still trying to find and get Joey Del Toro back from Mexico. His cousin Samuel Gonzalez pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder in June of 1998 and received a nineteen year sentence.
In January of 1999 Danny Rocha was convicted of first degree murder and sentence to life in prison. But, Blackthorne took a bit longer. In July of 1999 Del Toro was found and extradited back to the United States. He would be the last piece to fill in the story. According to Del Toro his cousin, Samuel Gonzalez had contacted him. All of the players, Del Toro, Gonzalez and even Rocha had been told that Sheila was abusive to her children and the deal was to beat her up severely. Del Toro would claim that he was promised $54,000 and would get more if events got Allen back his children. Del Toro would tell authorities that he drove his grandmothers car to Florida with the address he had been given and had quietly broken into the home. He would claim that he saw Sheila interacting with her two year old quadruplets and determined she was not the abusive person he had been led to believe and nearly left. As he was doing so Sheila had spotted him and in the process he had killed her. Authorities felt this was finally the last key to getting Blackthorne. He was charged federally with interstate conspiracy to commit murder and interstate domestic violence. He was arrested and charged in January of 2000.
By this point authorities were also looking into Allen's wife Maureen and trying to determine what she knew about things. She was never charged in the murder but she would later face charges of tax fraud as authorities were able to determine that she helped Allen hide money after the murder in fear that Sheila's family would get some of it.
Allen went to trial in July of 2000 in Texas. It was here that Daryl also helped put the pieces together in how her father got the address and putting the timeline together. Sadly her adoptive father, Jamie Bellush apparently put a lot of blame on the then twelve year old girl in leading Blackthorne to them. While my research stated nothing about it, I have seen documentary shows in which it stated the two older girls would eventually go live with Sheila's family and not stay with their siblings. Allen Blackthorne was convicted on all charges. He was sentenced to two concurrent life sentences without parole and fined over $250,000. Sheila's family sued both Allen and his wife Maureen for wrongful death and the case was settled for an undisclosed amount. In 2001 Blackthorne was attacked in prison and after his recovery was moved to another prison. Some research says he was moved to a federal prison in Florida where others indicate it was in Georgia. Either way in April of 2014 he was moved to a federal prison in Terre Haute Indiana. It was here on November 18, 2014 that he died at the age of fifty-nine. Nearly everything I found on his death gave no cause of death so it is unknown how or why he died.
In January of 2005 Allen's wife Maureen was convicted of one count of tax fraud for filing a false return in 1999. Prosecutors had also alleged that in the years of 1996, 1997 and 1998 she and Allen had also done the same but apparently a jury only thought it had happened in 1999. Prosecutors believed that they had hidden more than $1.6 M in that time in attempts to prevent losing it through lawsuits. Maureen was sentenced to one year in prison. By this time she had filed for divorce from Allen.
Today both Del Toro and Rocha remain in prison in Florida. Rocha had admitted to his role and even testified to it at Blackthorne's trial apparently but it is said that he has since recanted. Del Toro seemed to be the only one with an ounce of remorse, although at one point even he attempted to say someone else did the actual killing. The reality of it is that six children lost their mother. Four of them have no memory of her despite being present when she was killed. This is a blessing in a way I suppose. The two other children not only lost their mother, their home, their family and their siblings but also lost their biological father to prison and his anger.