January 2, 2021 | By Michael Brandy
This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and a University of North Florida Journalism class.
Allen Gunn loved to draw – he was good at it. He dreamed of using his drawing talents to one day become an architect.
He was known as a hard worker. Allen worked construction and did what was necessary to support his wife Patricia and 18-month-old daughter Kerri. Patricia was also pregnant with their second child Andrea. Allen took on a second job as a part-time taxicab driver with the family growing to bring in some extra money.
After the night of January 9, 1977, Allen couldn’t provide for his family anymore. He had been murdered; his body was found 500 feet away from his cab. He was 32 years old.
Allen was raised in the small town of Moultrie in Colquitt County, Georgia. Allen loved hunting, much like the rest of his small-town community.
Growing up in a poor home, Allen had the ambition to live a better life. He drew in his spare time. Some of these drawings included sketches of buildings, laying the groundwork for Allen’s architect ambitions. Kerri still has some of Allen’s earliest designs in her possession.
Growing into a tall, pale, lanky man with long blond hair and a mustache, Allen had a passion for helping people in the community, leading to him working toward being a pastor. Allen then shifted gears and started working in construction, still holding on to that dream of becoming an architect. He eventually moved to Tampa where he met his wife and started a family. He lived there for 14 years until his death.
On the day of his death, Allen picked up a cab fare at the Greyhound Bus Station in the downtown area of Lutz, Florida. At the time, the area was a poor neighborhood and several other cab burglaries had occurred.
Allen was later found having been shot twice and robbed of seven dollars and his cab parked not far away at Palifox and 29th streets. According to the police report, no motives were ever established, and no arrests were ever made.
The effect of Allen’s death on the family was monumental. Patricia and her daughters moved in with her parents.
“My mother would stand at the door, just waiting on dad to return home,” Andrea said.
Growing up, Andrea and Kerri were often told different scenarios regarding Allen’s death such as a car or construction accident. As they got older, they learned the truth.
Allen’s murder directly affected Andrea and Kerri’s life choices. Kerri had her father’s appetite for helping people and worked as a licensed therapist with children for 15 years.
Andrea worked as a skip tracer whose job is to locate people who are missing or have defaulted on a debt. Working as a skip tracer, Andrea utilized her skills to try and solve her father’s murder to no avail.
Andrea thinks Allen would like to be remembered as someone who made a difference.
“Despite being from a small town, he was able to make something of himself,” she said. “That’s how he’d want to be remembered.”
Based on accounts from Patricia, Allen was nice, smart, fun, and loving. According to her daughters, Patricia was never the same after Allen’s death. Pictures of Patricia show how distant and hurt she was after the murder.
Even 41 years later, she continues to think of Allen every day.
If you have any information on the unsolved murder of Allen Gunn, please call the Tampa Police Department at (813) 276-3200.
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