‘An extremely serious offense’
Bond set at $200k for Milan Doctor charged with attempted arson
By Caleb Revill
Dr. Misty Allen was arrested on Wednesday afternoon, March 29, after an investigation by special agents and fire investigators with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation resulted in her connection to an attempted arson at a clinic in Milan. As of Thursday, her bond has been set for $200,000.
According to a TBI press release, the Milan Fire Department responded to the Family Care Clinic on South First Street after reports of an unusual odor inside the building. Due to suspicious circumstances surrounding the incident, the involvement of TBI special agent fire investigators and Accelerant Detection K9 Millie was requested. During the investigation, agents determined someone had intentionally tried to start a fire in a room inside the clinic.
On Wednesday, TBI special agents obtained an arrest warrant charging Misty Y. Allen, a doctor working at the clinic at the time, with one count of Attempted Aggravated Arson. With the assistance of the Gibson County Sheriff’s Office, agents arrested Allen Wednesday evening at her home in Jackson. She was booked into the Gibson County Jail.
Bond hearing update
A bond hearing was held in Gibson County Circuit Court on Thursday afternoon, March 30, where Judge Clayburn Peeples ultimately set Dr. Allen’s bond at $200,000. Judge Peeples presided over the “unusual” hearing, stating that Judge Bradley Owens had recused himself from the hearing for previously representing the defendant.
Prosecuting District Attorney General Frederick Agee recommended setting Dr. Allen’s bail at $250,000, claiming that she could have been charged with 16 counts of attempted murder.
Defense Attorney Tim Crocker made note of Dr. Allen’s education and background. He stated that she graduated first in her class at both Union University and University of Tennessee’s Medical School. He also said that Dr. Allen was chief resident during her residency in 2007.
Crocker said that Dr. Allen had two children, 19 and 22 years old, that she was responsible for without a husband to support them. He noted Dr. Allen had no history of mental illness or criminal records, and suggested releasing her on personal recognizance without bail.
Agee noted for the court that Dr. Allen’s children are both adult children. He called to the stand TBI Special Agent Ryan Shanklin. Shanklin is an arson investigator who was called to the Family Care Clinic by Milan Fire Department Captain John Williams to help investigate an odd odor.
On arrival, Shanklin noted the smell of gasoline in the building and said that the wall was still wet with gasoline when he arrived. Shanklin reported 11 staff and four to six patients were in the building at the time he arrived.
After reviewing video of the clinic’s hallway outside of the bathroom, Shanklin identified Dr. Allen going towards the employee restroom with an unknown bottle in her lab coat pocket. The bottle was described as having an orange cap. Shanklin said that the recording showed clinic employees exiting into the hallway trying to identify an odd odor after Dr. Allen left the restrooms.
Shanklin said that a footprint was discovered on the sink. He suggested that someone had stepped onto the sink, moved the ceiling tile and poured gasoline onto an electric box the next room over through the ceiling. Shanklin noted that Dr. Allen had left before interviews were had, and no one else went to the bathroom during the incident.
Shanklin performed a search of Dr. Allen’s vehicle, but was unable to find the bottle from the video. While searching her home, Shanklin found a shirt with gasoline on it identified by a K9 and sent to a lab for further forensic testing.
Agee asked about possible motives, and Shanklin said that emails and texts between Allen and the clinic’s owner showed that Allen was being terminated and would not work at the clinic after April 1. Shanklin noted that his investigation is not yet completed.
Crocker asked if any witnesses saw Dr. Allen with gasoline, and Shanklin said no. Crocker noted that the gasoline was dripping down the walls from the ceiling, where cameras wouldn’t be able to monitor. He also said that Dr. Allen was going to work for Dr. Kenneth Tozer, who has a good reputation in Milan.
Crocker said that Dr. Allen fears she’s being “set up.” He asked Shanklin about the video surveillance showing Dr. Allen leaving the restroom wiping her hands and asked if that paper towel was tested. Shanklin said that the paper towel was K9 tested and showed no gasoline. Crocker noted that the gasoline found on Dr. Allen’s shirt could be residual from being inside the clinic while the gasoline smell was occurring, and any odor of gasoline in her vehicle could be from temporarily transporting gasoline in her vehicle for her four wheeler or lawnmower.
Crocker said it was his understanding there have been issues with Demerol and testosterone unaccounted for, and Shanklin acknowledged that could be a legal issue.
Agee said that if the electric box had ignited from the gasoline, someone could have died.
“This is a terrible act,” Agee said. “A terrible decision by a licensed professional.”
After much deliberation from Judge Peeples on what to set the bond amount for, Peeples said that it worried him that the evidence seemed to suggest Dr. Allen did it.
“This is a very unusual thing to do,” Peeples said. “This is obviously an extremely serious offense.”
Peeples said that the incident would be a “weird way” to frame somebody. He noted that a later court date and another judge could modify his decision on bail. After further deliberation, Judge Peeples set Dr. Allen’s bail at $200,000 on the condition that she is not to go back to the clinic if she makes bail. A new preliminary hearing with a different judge is expected to be held next week.