Club News

Osco #404 Tragedy: Christopher Allen

Christopher Allen started with Osco as a part-time clerk at Osco #829 in Decatur, Illinois. He later held several assistant management positions in the Decatur, Illinois; Champaign, Illinois; Indianapolis, Indiana and in the Springfield, Illinois market.  In February 1989 he was named general manager at Osco #404 in South Bend, Indiana. 

He resigned from Osco on March 16, 1990 after being confronted for embezzling money. The total loss to the store amounted to approximately $5,400 and he eventually made restitution to the company.  Upon termination, Allen’s keys to the store were confiscated and the locks on the safe were changed. Additionally, the PIN number that Allen had used to operate the store’s alarm system was disabled.  However, the locks to the front door and combination to the safe were not changed. Allen was hired by the Reliable Drug Store chain after leaving Osco but had been fired by that company prior to August 1990. 

In November 1999, Allen was indicted on seven counts, including armed robbery and the triple homicide.  He was extradited from Dunwoody, Georgia to Indiana, using evidence that authorities said they've had all along. The prosecutor blamed his predecessor's attitude of "complacency and expediency" for the delay in the indictment against Chris Allen for the crime which had occurred nine years earlier.   Allen's first trial in 2001 ended in a hung jury.  At the second trial, in 2002, he was found guilty. 

Convicted, he was sentenced to three consecutive 48-year terms (144 years in prison) for the robbery and murders of his former co-workers.  The conviction was overturned on appeal in 2004 after the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that although enough evidence existed to convict Allen, the jury should have heard certain evidence that the judge had excluded. He was released after serving 576 days in prison. 

Allen was tried for a third time in July 2006.  Due to pre-trial publicity in the South Bend community, the third trial was moved to nearby Henry County. The two week trial ended with a hung jury.  During all three trials, evidence of an African-American 'mystery woman' accomplice, described as having 'her hair pulled-up and wearing large earrings' acting as look-out by the photo counter was not presented to the jury by the prosecution because the eye witness of a co-conspirator had died in 1995 - long before Allen was arrested. At each of the three trials, Allen's estranged wife, Sharries Garrett, provided an alibi. 

In December 2006, prosecutors decided Allen would not be tried for a fourth time for the triple murders.  All charges against him were formally dismissed. Because two of his trials ended in hung juries and his conviction was overturned on appeal, Allen does not face double jeopardy in the case and can be tried again if authorities ever uncover new evidence. Law enforcement and all involved in the case are certain Allen was guilty and evaded justice.   The third trial cost the county over $112,000 for public defender fees, investigators and other public defender-related expenses - enough to raise reasonable doubt in the mind of at least one juror.

Christopher Allen, now 54, last known residence is Lawrenceville, Georgia.


Related Stories:

Scott A. Dick

Tracy L. Holvoet

Connie E. Zalewski


Other Articles:

2015: Remembering Scott, Tracy and Connie

2015: The South Bend Tragedy

2004: Appeal of Christopher Allen’s Conviction

1990 – 1996: Media Coverage

1991: Full Page Notice Placed by Families of the Victims

1990: An Open Letter from #404 Store Employees

1990: September Memorial Service


2015 Commentaries: (please log-in to access)