35-year-old Sarasota woman charged with attempted murder while engaged in arson

Andrea Allen being held without bond in Sarasota County Jail

 The Sarasota Police Department has charged a 35-year-old Sarasota woman, Andrea S. Allen, with five counts of Attempted Murder while Engaged in Arson, the department announced on Jan. 17.

The victims in the investigation are 1-year-old twins, two 35-year-old women, and one 47-year-old woman, a news release points out.

The victims’ names were not released, a Police Department news release said, as they had opted into the state’s Marsy’s Law, which allows victims’ identities to be shielded.

Allen is being held without bond in the Sarasota County Jail, the release notes. Her arraignment on the charges is scheduled for Feb. 17, her Corrections Division record shows.

Allen’s address in the Police Department’s Probable Cause Affidavit is 3058 Palmadelia Ave. That street intersects North Orange Avenue north of 25th Street in Sarasota.

The incident that led to the charges occurred in a Palmadelia Avenue home, but the address was redacted in the affidavit.

A resident of the house told detectives that Allen had been angry because she believed one of the women in the household was cheating on her by engaging in a romantic relationship with another person. Detectives learned from more than one witness that Allen had threatened to burn down the structure, the affidavit indicates.

Just before 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 31, 2022, police officers responded to the Palmadelia Avenue residence after the agency received a report of a fire at that location, the affidavit says. Firefighters/paramedics with the Sarasota County Fire Department arrived at 8:31 a.m., the affidavit notes.

Both Allen and another 35-year-old female resident of the house were transported to Blake Medical Center in Bradenton for treatment of burns, the affidavit says. Allen was arrested after her discharge from that facility, the Police Department noted.

When Sarasota Police Department detectives arrived at the house, the affidavit continues, they found Fire Department personnel awaiting the arrival of an arson investigator, who was identified as Paul Snider, the affidavit adds.

Later on Dec. 31, 2022, the affidavit says, detectives conducted an interview with a person whose name was redacted. That woman told the detectives that she was sleeping in her bedroom when the blaze began. The woman — who is wheelchair-bound, the affidavit points out — reported that several people had pulled her out of the building, through her bedroom window. She added that she did not know who had started the fire, the affidavit says, but she confirmed that Allen lived in the house.

Yet another female resident told the detectives that Allen and a woman whose name also was redacted had been arguing “over the two of them cheating” on each other, the affidavit adds.

The night of Dec. 30, 2022, the affidavit continues, Allen told that individual that she was going to travel to Miami for the New Year; Allen left the house about 11 p.m.

Then, at approximately 2 a.m. on Dec. 31, 2022, the affidavit continues, the same female resident reported that she was talking with a second woman in a bedroom “when they heard Allen arrive in a car.” The first woman added that she and the second woman believed “Allen was listening to their conversation through the bedroom window,” which was open and had no screen on it.

Soon afterward, the first woman added, “Allen came into the house and began demanding that [the second woman, who apparently was the mother of the twins] leave the house,” the affidavit says. That second woman and Allen argued “and shoved one another while in the living room,” the first woman told the detectives.

The affidavit notes that one of the women reported that as Allen “started to walk out of the house, she said [she] was going to burn the house down. Allen walked back inside the house with a gas can wrapped in a white garbage bag and a light blue lighter in her hand and said, ‘You think I’m playing?’ ” the affidavit adds.

The mother of the twins told the detectives that she began to yell for the other young woman, who was in a bedroom, as the mother ran out of the residence with her children, the affidavit continues. One of the women said that she observed smoke coming from the house and “saw Allen jump out [of a] bedroom window,” the affidavit adds. “Allen began ripping off her clothes, and suddenly she ran back inside the house to help [the wheelchair-bound woman],” the affidavit quotes the resident.

The affidavit indicates that Allen helped pushed the wheelchair-bound woman out of that woman’s bedroom window, and then a neighbor helped that woman reach a safe location.

One of the younger residents further reported to the detectives that Allen had purchased a red gas container about one month before the incident, following an argument. “Allen stored the gas can in a white garbage bag behind the house,” the resident said, according to the affidavit.

Evidence of arson and further details from residents

On Dec. 31, the arson investigator, Snider, obtained written consent from an unidentified individual to enter the residence to conduct his investigation, the affidavit continues. He later advised the detectives that he had located items of clothing under the window of the house, on the south side, from which Allen had jumped; the clothes had “ignitable liquid” on them, the affidavit says.

At 6 p.m. on Dec. 31, after detectives executed a search warrant at the Palmadelia Avenue home, they found a light blue lighter and clothing covered in an accelerant, the affidavit notes.

Further, the affidavit reports that, on Jan. 4, the two detectives interviewed a male and that man’s brother, who live in the house directly across the street from the crime location. The first man explained that, about 7:30 a.m. on Dec. 31, 2022, he was in his front yard as he was getting ready to leave for work when he saw Allen on the side of her house. He added that he heard Allen say, “ ‘I’ll burn you mother******s up’ as she walked around to the back of the house [and] then immediately walked back inside the house through the side door.”

That neighbor also reported having heard arguing at Allen’s home on the night of Dec. 30, including statements that Allen made, five or six times, about her plans to burn down the house. The neighbor added that he had heard Allen make such a threat two weeks before the incident, the affidavit points out.

During another interview, conducted on Jan. 4, the affidavit continues, the female resident who was mother to the twins told the detectives that Allen had allowed her to stay in the house, because she needed a place to stay.

The woman also explained that she had moved to the living room “because she remembered a text message that Allen sent her on [Dec. 22, 2022] that made her nervous,” the affidavit says. That text message “stated that [the woman] was not safe anymore.”

The mother told the detectives that Allen “tried to kill her and her kids,” the affidavit adds. The woman also said “she was in fear for her life” and the lives of her twins.

The Police Department is asking that anyone with information about this case, or additional cases involving Allen, call Sarasota Police Detective Maria Llovio at 941-263-6836, email her at Maria.Llovio@SarasotaFl.gov, leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers by calling 941-366-TIPS, or go online at www.sarasotacrimestoppers.com.

Prior charges against Allen

A News Leader check of the records of the Sarasota County Clerk of the Circuit Court and County Comptroller found Allen has been charged in several prior cases — from speeding in September 2006; to robbery with a firearm, with a mask, in May 2020; to aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, which dated to May 2022.

In that last case, which occurred at a Veronica Allen Place residence in Newtown, in north Sarasota, Allen admitted to stabbing a person, whose identity also was protected by Marsy’s Law.

A witness told Sheriff’s Office personnel that the victim had come to the home “to retrieve a cell phone from Allen.” The Probable Cause Affidavit added, “After arguing about the cell phone, Allen initiated a physical altercation by pushing [the victim]. During the physical fight that ensued, Allen produced a knife and stabbed [the victim].”

The owner of the home broke up the fight, the affidavit pointed out.

Allen pleaded “Not guilty” and demanded a jury trial, later case documents showed.

Ultimately, the State Attorney’s Office for the 12th Judicial District declined to prosecute Allen. That decision followed the filing of a motion by Allen’s public defender, seeking her release in early June 2022 because, 30 days from the date of her arrest, Allen had yet to be formally charged by the state.

The presiding judge had ordered Allen’s release on the 33rd day after her arrest, if the State Attorney’s Office had not filed formal charges by then.