Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Public safety

Millionaire who plotted ex-wife's notorious Sarasota murder dies in prison

Allen Blackthorne's death behind bars was certain. It was only a matter of how long the Texas millionaire who arranged his ex-wife's murder in Sarasota would live.

This week, the 59-year-old died in the federal prison in Terra Haute, Ind., 14 years after he was handed two life sentences, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons website.

No cause of death was listed.

The Blackthorne case made Tampa Bay headlines for more than three years. Sheila Bellush, often referred to as the "Quad Mom" for the quadruplets she had with her second husband, was found with her throat slit in her Sarasota home in 1997. Two of her then-2-year-old children were found crawling in the 35-year-old's blood.

Bellush and Blackthorne divorced in 1989 and had a bitter custody dispute over their two daughters. Bellush moved to Florida from San Antonio, Texas, in 1997, and six weeks later she was killed by hit man Jose Luis Del Toro Jr.

Blackthorne, who made his money developing a medical device that stimulates muscles, played golf constantly, including rounds with gambling buddy Daniel Rocha. Prosecutors say Blackthorne asked Rocha to arrange the killing.

Rocha approached San Antonio golf course bag boy Samuel Gonzales to find someone for the job. Gonzales asked his cousin, Del Toro. For his part, Rocha was offered a partnership in a golf course development, maybe even a $400,000 loan for a sports bar. The hit man would be paid $54,000 plus a bonus if Blackthorne regained custody of the girls, who had been adopted by Sheila Bellush's second husband.

Del Toro, a 24-year-old former high school football player from a small town 90 miles southwest of San Antonio, drove to Florida for the killing. He shot and stabbed Bellush at the home she shared with her husband, Jamie Bellush, their quadruplets and the daughters she had with Blackthorne, Daryl and Stevie.

Del Toro pleaded guilty to murder charges and was sentenced to life in prison in Florida the same day a Texas jury convicted Blackthorne. Rocha, whose testimony helped convict Blackthorne, was given life in prison. Gonzales was sentenced to 19 years behind bars.

During the trial, Blackthorne admitted he once threatened to kill his ex-wife because he thought she was a negligent mother, but he denied arranging her murder. At his sentencing hearing in San Antonio in November 2000, Daryl Bellush told a judge her father had "given me the ability to hate."

"The day I'm happy again is the day that my mom is alive," Bellush, who was 15 at the time, told the judge. "Unfortunately, that's not happening. So I guess I'll compromise. He can spend the rest of his life in jail and die there.

"Then I can go out and celebrate."

Information from the Associated Press and Times files was used in this report.

Comments
Victim in fatal wrong-way crash was a veteran who died on Veteran’s Day

Victim in fatal wrong-way crash was a veteran who died on Veteran’s Day

He was fatally injured Monday while loading his bike onto the front of a bus on Gulf Boulevard. The wrong-way driver was impaired, deputies say.
Updated: 1 hour ago
Sexual battery charge against Tampa cop dropped

Sexual battery charge against Tampa cop dropped

The State Attorney's office says it has dropped its case against Adam York, the Tampa cop accused of sexually battering a woman he pulled over after Gasparilla in 2016.
Updated: 1 hour ago
Argument over dog led Tarpon Springs man to shoot and kill his father, police say

Argument over dog led Tarpon Springs man to shoot and kill his father, police say

The 25-year-old faces a first-degree murder charge for fatally shooting his 68-year-old father, according to Tarpon Springs police.
Updated: 2 hours ago
'We just keep asking why,' says family of man shot dead by Lakeland store owner

'We just keep asking why,' says family of man shot dead by Lakeland store owner

Christobal Lopez's family describe him as a peaceful man and criticize a judge's decision to let his killer, now-former Lakeland City Commissioner Michael Dunn, go on an out-of-state vacation.
Updated: 3 hours ago
A wrong-way driver slammed into her on the Howard Frankland Bridge. She's alive and grateful.

A wrong-way driver slammed into her on the Howard Frankland Bridge. She's alive and grateful.

Andrea Rusch, a 24-year-old bartender at Ferg's Sports Bar and Grill in St. Petersburg, has undergone three surgeries but is expected to be discharged from St. Joseph's Hospital this week.
Updated: 4 hours ago
FHP: Daytona Beach man killed crossing St. Petersburg street

FHP: Daytona Beach man killed crossing St. Petersburg street

The 59-year-old pedestrian walked into the path of an oncoming car, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Updated: 6 hours ago
People wrongfully convicted can now petition Hillsborough state attorney for review

People wrongfully convicted can now petition Hillsborough state attorney for review

Andrew Warren announced the creation of a Conviction Integrity Unit, the first of its kind in Hillsborough.
Updated: 7 hours ago
Innovative Red Tide bad air forecast tool working well, but info can be hard to find

Innovative Red Tide bad air forecast tool working well, but info can be hard to find

An experimental tool to provide forecasts for which beaches have bad air because of Red Tide seems to be working, but users are having trouble finding its important information.
Updated: 8 hours ago
Pasco deputies: Two New Port Richey men arrested for sex with 14-year-old

Pasco deputies: Two New Port Richey men arrested for sex with 14-year-old

Jarkarius Ellis, 18, and Ricky Farrow, 19, face charges of lewd and lascivious battery on a victim under 16.
Updated: 9 hours ago
Hillsborough Sheriff's deputies investigating woman's death in Lake Egypt Estates

Hillsborough Sheriff's deputies investigating woman's death in Lake Egypt Estates

Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputies responded to the scene of a suspicious death at about 8p.m. Monday in the Lake Egypt Estates neighborhood near Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo.
Published: 11/12/18
Updated: 11/13/18