Pat Allanson” One of the most terrible cases of true crime that I have ever read has been chronicled by author Ann Rule in her book, Everything She Ever Wanted. It’s one of the most appalling cases of injustice, malice and murder that I have seen, and the damage has lasted for decades, if not for years to come as future generations of two families struggle with a legacy of evil.
It starts out innocently enough, with a baby girl. Patricia Vann, born in 1937, was adored by her extended family of aunts and especially by her grandmother. She was a beautiful child, all big green eyes and blondish hair, quick and clever, and she grew up to be a beautiful teenager. Pat was indulged by her mother, Margureitte and stepfather, Colonel Clifford Radcliffe, and grew up as an Army brat, being shifted from posting to posting. There was a younger brother, Kent, that Pat, as older sisters will do, bullied and teased mercilessly.
But there was a darker side to Pat. If she didn’t get her way, she learned that the best way to get attention was to throw a tantrum. If that didn’t work, she manipulated her way. It can be charming in a very young child but in an adult it can cause unbelievable tension and drama in a family. On the other side, Pat also knew how to charm men — and women — especially if they had something she wanted.
As with most of the women in her maternal family, the Silers, Pat married very young, at the age of fifteen, and what would grow to be a family tradition, pregnant. Her new husband was Gil Taylor, a hopeful young Army sergeant, and Pat embarked on the life of a military life. Soon she had three children, Susan, Debbie and Ronnie, but she also discovered that she didn’t exactly want all of the hard work that being a mother involved. And the lifestyle in the military didn’t support her dreams of having a fine home and raising horses. So Pat did what she always did — appeal to her parents for help.
Soon enough, Pat was living near or with her parents, having her mother help her out with the children, and Gil was often off on his deployments alone. Naturally, the marriage started to show cracks soon, and in 1971 they divorced. In 1973, Pat met Tom Allanson, a tall, strong handsome man, who was just as passionately interested in horses as she was, and soon they were in love. But Tom was also married, and caught up in a truly ugly divorce to a woman known in the family as Little Carolyn. But the biggest problem of all for Pat was Tom’s parents, Walter and Big Carolyn Allanson.
They didn’t approve of Pat, they felt that Tom was a grave disappointment to them, and viewed divorce as not an option. They firmly sided with Little Carolyn, and the relationship between Tom and his family deteriorated, with accusations flying between both sides, and some pretty dreadful threats. Tom was eaten up with worry over Pat, whose health was showing signs of failing, with fainting spells and heart troubles.
But in 1973, life started to look up for the lovers. They were able to buy a farm, and started their dream of raising and showing horses together, and in May were married in a “Gone With The Wind” style ceremony, hoopskirts and all. It appeared that things were going to work out.
But Walter and Big Carolyn were shot at that summer, and they accused Pat and Tom of it. Then on July 4th, someone shot them both in the basement of their home, and the Allansons were dead. Tom was soon arrested for the murders, stood trial and went to prison, with the ever-faithful Pat promising to help him get out.
But Pat Allanson’s story doesn’t stop there, not at all — for she would go to prison not just once, but twice…
I found this to be a very convoluted, very tangled tale of a woman who would stop at nothing to achieve her ends. By the end of the story, there would be not just the Allansons’ murders, but also poisonings, arson, theft, fraud and other mayhem in the wake of Pat Allanson’s manipulations.
Ms. Rule chronicles what was in my mind one of the true examples of a sociopath/psychopath. These are people who cannot connect or show empathy for their actions with others. To them, the world owes them, and they will use whatever they can to get people to do what they want them to. Eventually, when their victims can’t give any more, they either dispose of them, or they do away with them. It’s a brutal, ugly cycle of abuse, and in Pat Allanson’s case, murder. They simply do not care, for they see themselves as victims, frail and needy against life’s harsher realities.
This book stirred up quite a few memories of my own mother, a woman who was very similar to Pat Allanson. She too was a bit of a Southern Belle, and while she never went to the extremes that were shown in this book, I could certainly see the echoes. But this story also helped me to know that such behaviour wasn’t just an isolated case either.
Ms. Rule’s writing in this book is strong, and while she does get repetitious in spots, it’s a chilling account to read. I found it to be compelling reading, and my sympathy for those left in the wake of Pat Allanson’s machinations profound. The two stories that really tore at me were those of Tom, who suffered immensely at Pat’s hands, and her daughter, Susan, who very nearly became a fatal victim of her mother’s plans.
Along with the narrative, there are two updates in this book — in 1993 and 2002 — which continue the story a bit farther. As well as a genealogical chart showing the relationships between the three families, there is also an insert of black and white photographs.
While I wouldn’t suggest this for sensitive readers, this is a very well written book showing the effects that one very selfish person can create in generations of a family.
Recommended. Four stars overall.
Other books by Ann Rule:
Too Late to Say Goodbye: A True Story of Murder and Betrayal
If You Really Loved Me: A True Story of Desire and Murder
Every Breath You Take: A Tale of Erotic Obsession, Revenge and Murder
Heart Full of Lies: A True Story of Desire and Death
Green River, Running Red: The Story of the Green River Killer
…And Never Let Her Go: Thomas Capano, the Deadly Seducer
Dead By Sunset
Bitter Harvest: A Mother’s Fury, A Mother’s Sacrifice
Everything She Ever Wanted: A True Story of Obsessive Love, Murder and Betrayal
1992, 2002; Pocket Books