Arson victim feared for her life - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

13 Investigates

Arson victim feared for her life

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Gary Allen Jr. speaks to a firefighter on the morning of the fire. Gary Allen Jr. speaks to a firefighter on the morning of the fire.
Gary Allen Jr. Gary Allen Jr.

INDIANAPOLIS - 13 Investigates has learned that the victim of a deadly fire feared for her life and was scared of the man police say killed her. The suspect admitted to starting the deadly fire.

Police reports give a clearer picture of what happened surrounding the deadly fire scene at State and Prospect last Tuesday.

"She had a lot of trouble in that house. They used to steal from her, money. And her daughter and her boyfriend used to be the cause of all of that," said Henry Boston, a neighbor.

Henry Boston says the home Anna Richards shared with her quadriplegic son Jerry, her daughter Mary and arson suspect Gary Allen Jr. was a living nightmare for the 63-year-old.

13 Investigates has uncovered a half dozen police reports backing up claims that the elderly mother was afraid of the man now accused in her and her disabled son's murders.

Eyewitness News interviewed Gary Allen on the morning of the fire. He appeared angry to learn that the fire had been intentionally set, even blaming the landlord who was evicting the family.

"I don't want to mess up the investigation or nothing, but here's the way I really believe. He wanted us out of there so bad that he set the fire," said Allen.

Four days later, Allen was arrested.

In court records unsealed Monday, Allen reportedly confessed to setting the fire, telling detectives: "He started the fire by lighting a mattress...knowing Anna Richards had renter's insurance on contents inside." After setting the fire and as Richards and her grown children slept, "he watched it from a window for a time until he was satisfied it was burning; he then went back inside to await the 'discovery.' By that time, the fire was out of control."

13 Investigates learned that In November 2006, Gary Allen was arrested for hitting Richards "in the back of the head with his fist." She told police that she was "afraid of Allen, that he may hurt her and her son," and she stated "she was in fear of her life."

"Her son, the one in the wheelchair, came over here and asked me that morning to take them to go buy a car because she wanted to go back home," said Boston. Neighbors say Anna Richards had planned to go back to Louisville, but didn't escape the flames.

The last time Allen faced homelessness, he reportedly told Richards, "He didn't want to live on the streets and to leave the residence so he could burn down the garage and go to prison for five years."

Gary Allen was listed as a suspect in a garage fire. He has also had multiple arrests for false reporting, battery, criminal trespass, and even calling police saying someone was threatening to burn down Anna Richards home several years ago.

See the probable cause affidavit outlining the case against Gary Allen.

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