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Medical examiner report shows what led to arrest of malnourished Hillsborough woman's husband

Harold Allen had a history of abusing his wife, a report says. At her death, she weighed 68 pounds.
Harold Allen had a history of abusing his wife, a report says. At her death, she weighed 68 pounds.
Published Aug. 16, 2017

TAMPA — A blood clot killed 74-year-old Karen Allen, but it was far from the only complication she suffered before her January death. She was severely dehydrated, had a bowel perforation and weighed just 68 pounds when she died, a medical examiner report shows.

When deputies found her dead in bed at her husband's Tampa home, there were abrasions on her face and blood on the wall.

Despite all this, her husband Harold, the only other person at the house and her sole caregiver, never called a doctor, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office reported. On Monday, the agency charged him with felony negligent manslaughter of an elderly disabled adult.

Harold Allen, 75, had a history of abusing his wife, the medical examiner's report said, citing the Sheriff's Office, but records show he had never been arrested in Hillsborough County.

Allen last saw his wife alive on Jan. 6 at 7:30 p.m. Shortly afterward, he called 911, and deputies arrived at his house at 8:17 p.m.

He told them his wife hadn't seen a doctor in about five years. She had been bedridden for three weeks before she died, he said. For the last week, she was nonverbal.

He also said he fed her the day before, but an autopsy found nothing in her stomach. She had lip wounds caused by severe dehydration and malnourishment. She also had cuts above her eye and on her collarbone.

The medical examiner named a blood vessel blockage in Karen Allen's lung as the primary cause of death, with her immobilization and dehydration contributing to it. Her brain also showed signs consistent with Alzheimer's type dementia.

There was plenty of food in the Allen home, which was tidy, deputies noticed at the time, according to the report, and Allen "did not have financial concerns."

Karen Allen had no history of alcohol, tobacco or drug abuse, according to the medical examiner's investigation. She lived with her husband and worked for a pharmaceutical company.

Harold Allen was held at the Hillsborough County Jail, his bail set at $15,000.

It took an array of studies by the medical examiner's office before authorities could issue a warrant and arrest him. Sheriff's deputies took Allen into custody without incident at his home Monday.

At least one in 10 adults over 60 who live at home are abused or neglected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That number is likely an underestimate, because many victims are unable to report their abuse.

In 2015, three family members of Citrus Park resident Mary Hildreth Winston, 65, were sentenced to probation after Winston died at home with no medical treatment. The family said Winston insisted she did not want to go to the hospital.

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Staff writer Anastasia Dawson contributed to this report. Contact Langston Taylor at Follow @langstonitaylor.