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Investigators say cold case from 1997 was homicide

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Published:   |   Updated: March 13, 2013 at 11:24 PM
TAMPA -

On Halloween in 1997, Michael W. Allan left his job in the service department at a car dealership in Brooksville. He told co-workers he was headed to Tampa to meet his ex-wife so he could take his young child trick-or-treating.

He never arrived.

Over the next month, the Holiday man was entered into the missing person files and his car was found in a Tarpon Springs parking lot.

Ten months later, skeletal remains were found under the east side of the Howard Frankland Bridge, but there was no evidence they were Allan's.

Forensic scientists thought the remains were of a black male in his 50s who was about 5 feet 8 inches tall. Allan was white, 44, and 6 feet tall.

Allan remained a missing person until April, when he and the skeleton under the bridge were matched.

The positive identification came through newly developed DNA technology that emerged about five years ago. That's when the medical examiner's office shipped the remains to an FBI lab in Quantico, Va., for testing.

Evidence indicates Allan was murdered, though investigators won't divulge how they reached that conclusion.

As cold cases go, they don't get much colder.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement task force supervisor Sharon Feola said investigators will go on what they have.

"It is what it is," she said.

Feola said evidence was gathered from the car, and there are possible suspects, but investigators are still looking for anyone who may know something about the case to step forward and tie the pieces together.

The task force is made up of detectives from the FDLE, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office and the Tampa Police Department. Assistant state attorneys with the Florida Statewide Prosecutors Office also are participating.

Rick Ramirez is in charge of the FDLE office in Tampa, which is heading up the investigation.

"Mr. Allan was murdered," he said Wednesday, 15 years to the day after the 44-year-old Pasco County man went missing, "and we are looking to the public to help in this investigation."

On Oct. 31, 1997, Allan had gone into work at what was then Plaza Dodge of Brooksville. He spoke to his ex-wife Kelly Allan at 5:30 p.m. to arrange a meeting in Tampa where he was to take his child out for Halloween. He never showed up, Ramirez said.

Two days later, he was reported missing. Three weeks later, his fire-engine-red 1989 Dodge Daytona was found in a parking lot in Tarpon Springs.

In 2007, the FDLE sent the remains to the FBI. The backlog of cases delayed the testing until April, when forensic scientists confirmed the remains in the water were Allan, Ramirez said.

On Oct. 1, the task force was formed.

"The team of agents and investigators and forensic analysts solved the mystery of who this man is and now we need to solve the crime," Ramirez said. "It's time we brought some answers to Michael Allan's family, and we encourage anyone with information about his activity in Florida to contact us."

Allan's frail mother, Nannette, released this statement through the FDLE:

"I would pray that if anyone knows anything about my son's disappearance and murder, that you would come forward and put this to rest."

She is determined to find out what happened, Ramirez said.

"She has never stopped asking," he said. "She has never given up hope."


kmorelli@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7760

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