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From her niece's home in Smyrna, Tennessee, Brenda Brown called 911 in a panic, telling the dispatcher she needed immediate police assistance.
“We found her, she’s in the bed dead … Oh my God, not Kim. Not Kim,” Brown cried.
When officers arrived at the scene, they discovered the body of Kim Allen, who police estimated had been dead for several days based on her skin marbling. They also noticed superficial cuts on her neck and bleeding from her eyes, which indicated Kim might have been smothered or suffocated.
On the kitchen counter, police found crushed-up pill residue, and throughout the home, they located used duct tape stuck to plastic bags. One piece of tape had been shaped into makeshift handcuffs.
While there did not appear to be any sign of a struggle, the back door window had been broken from the inside out, leading investigators to believe the assailant wanted to make the murder look like a robbery gone wrong. Although her purse and wallet were still at the house, there was no cash inside either of them.
By speaking with friends and family, police learned that just a week prior, Kim had given testimony at a preliminary hearing for a criminal case against her estranged husband, Larry Allen.
“She had recently testified against him in a domestic assault and a rape,” Smyrna Police Department Detective Marcy Gossett told “Criminal Confessions,” airing Saturdays at 6/5c on Oxygen.
Following the attack on his wife, Larry was released on bond and moved in with his parents a few houses away, but it was discovered he was out of town at the time of Kim’s murder. Neighbors also reported seeing an unknown man coming and going from Kim’s home throughout the week.
To gather more information about this mystery man, investigators subpoenaed Kim’s banking and cell phone information.
Five days before her body was found, on March 20, 2016, surveillance footage captured Kim withdrawing $420 from her account. Video from earlier in the day showed a man using her card at a convenience store, signing the receipt, “Kim.”
Cell phone records showed that the last call from her number was on the evening of March 21 to a woman named Stacey Merritt. Detectives contacted Merritt, who told them that her brother, Eric Ellis, had called her from Kim’s phone.
She identified the man in the surveillance footage as Ellis, saying he had met Kim at a local bar and that she had offered him a place to stay while he got back on his feet.
Ellis told his sister that he had “witnessed something horrible” the previous week, but he could not disclose any details about what happened. Merritt said she then took Ellis to the Rescue Mission in Nashville, where investigators quickly tracked him down.
Ellis was brought into the station for an interview, and he initially claimed that in the late-night hours of March 20, Kim got into a “screaming battle” with a man named Carl Miller. He alleged that the man had “drugged up” Kim before telling him to “get the f--k outta there.”
“He was crushing some type of pills. I seen [sic] a residue on the counter. I watched him put the powder in a cup. And then I watched him put Diet Dr. Pepper on top of it,” Ellis contended.
Ellis also claimed he had gone to the bank with Kim earlier that night, but investigators caught no sight of him in the surveillance footage.
That is when they theorized that Ellis had been hidden in the backseat of her car, holding a weapon to Kim’s neck, which could have caused the cuts they found on her body.
When asked what type of weapon he held to Kim’s throat at the bank, Ellis responded, “I wasn’t holding … I didn’t have no knife or nothin.’”
In hopes of tricking Ellis into believing that they had retrieved the knife and were able to match DNA evidence to Kim, investigators had a detective enter the interview room and say, “Hey, it’s a match.”
Ellis then started to break down, ultimately telling investigators, “She told me I’m a ... drunk-ass motherf--ker … For some damn reason I went in the kitchen and I grabbed a knife … And I stuck her in the neck. And I realized what I was doing, somehow in hell, I dropped it.”
He said he dumped the knife in a parking garage trash can, and detectives were able to recover two knives from the location. One matched up to a butcher block set in Kim’s kitchen.
He went on to confess that Kim asked for “some of her medicine to help her,” but he “gave her way too f--king much.” He crushed up the pills and put it in her drink, which he thought would “help ease the pain.”
“And then she passed away … [A]fter she was already gone, I wanted to make it look like a break-in ... I put duct tape around her neck, around the bag, on it,” Ellis claimed.
Ellis said he put the duct tape on Kim’s hands as well as over her mouth, eyes, and nose.
“This confession was actually giving us the manner of death, suffocating her by putting duct tape over her and the bag … with her being as heavily medicated as she was,” Smyrna Police Department Captain Todd Spearman told “Criminal Confessions.”
Ellis revealed that after the murder, he drove Kim’s car for a couple of days and even went back to the residence to stay the night while she was deceased in her bedroom.
“Was he intending to kill her after he took the money? I don’t know, but I think after he put that stab wound in her neck, he thought at that point, there was no returning,” Det. Gossett said.
Ellis pleaded guilty to Kim’s murder, and he is now serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole.
Although Kim was unable to testify, Larry’s case went to trial, and he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for aggravated rape.
To learn more about the case, watch “Criminal Confessions” on Oxygen.
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