November 7, 1997: The Murder of Sheila Bellush


WHAT HAPPENED?


Sheila Bellush, a 35-year-old mother of 6, was murdered 23 years ago on November 7, 1997, by a hitman hired by her ex-husband. He had stalked her since their divorce 10 years before, and allegedly was after custody of the 2 children they had together.


The hitman fled to Mexico after the murder, but was extradited to the U.S. 2 years later and pleaded guilty to first degree murder. Her ex-husband was sentenced to life in prison and died there in November of 2014.

BACKGROUND


Sheila was born in Topeka, Kansas in 1962. She married Allen Blackthorne in 1982, a self-made millionaire. They had 2 daughters together named Stevie and Daryl.


Their 5-year marriage would spawn nearly 10 years of court battles. It was the opposite of amicable. Each of them accused the other of abusing their children and adultery. Blackthorne called Sheila a "gold digger" and claimed she sexually abused their oldest daughter and employed both male and female prostitutes in their bedroom.


However, Sheila was granted custody of the kids. In 1993, Sheila remarried Jamie Bellush, and the couple had quadruplets 2 years later. Blackthorne was not happy with the outcome of the divorce and began to harass her.


With her ex-husband always watching, essentially stalking her, so the family moved to Sarasota, Florida to escape him.


When Sheila had the quadruplets, she became something of a celebrity mom. The local media was interested in the heartwarming birth of the 4 tiny babies, and they were filmed through their first birthday. A few years after the birth of the quads, Blackthorne seemed to give up. He abandoned his bid for custody of both daughters.


While things were starting to look up, it was really anything but. Blackthorne hadn't given up because he didn't care anymore, but because he wanted to take matters into his own hands.

THE MURDER AND INVESTIGATION


In 1997, Blackthorne tracked his ex-wife down in Florida through a private investigator. While there, he plotted to hire a man to beat Sheila up. He asked a golfing acquaintance, one Daniel Alex Rocha who had a minor criminal history to help. Rocha was willing to help out because Blackthorne told him that Sheila was abusing the children. Rocha talked with some contacts and landed upon Jose Luis Del Toro, who agreed to attack Sheila for $14,000.


On November 7, 1997, a call from Sheila's residence would come through from 13-year-old Stevie. The home was covered in blood. Her mother was laying on the ground, blood coating her face and shirt. "Mom, my mom!" she shouted into the phone. "My mom is dead," she said, while struggling to remember her address to provide to the house.


Minutes before the call, Stevie had arrived home from middle school and found her quadruplet brothers and sister in the hallway. They had blood streaked on them, and her mother was bloodied in another room.


When the police arrived, they realized the unfortunate truth: only the toddlers had witnessed the crime, a group of toddlers who were just learning to speak. They found Sheila, dead from a .45 caliber bullet to her head and a kitchen knife into her body. Nothing was stolen, and there was no sign of sexual assault. No one knew what happened.


Eventually, investigators would learn. Del Toro broke into the Bellush household and hid in the laundry room. He watched a blonde woman with her quadruplet toddlers, waiting for her to smack the kids, or something to prove she was the abusive mother Blackthorne made her out to be. He was excited for the mission. All he had to do was beat up a woman who abused her kids, and he would be paid. He was given $4,000 for the attack, but, if she were to die and Blackthorne regained custody of his children, he would get a $10,000 bonus. Once a high school star running back and now a jobless drug user, this seemed like a pretty profitable mission.


He had sped to the house, high on cocaine to fuel the crime... but while he watched what appeared to be a loving mother, not a horrible monster, he started to lose his nerve to kill. He was worried about what would happen to him if he backed out, but decided that it was wrong to kill Sheila, as she didn't appear to do anything wrong. After a silent debate in his head, he decided to leave.


But unfortunately, Sheila caught him, about to leave, before he could. She stood right in front of him, terrified of the 6 foot tall man in jungle camouflage in her laundry room. In a panic, he shot her once, but the pistol jammed after the first shot. He grabbed a kitchen knife and slashed her on the arms as she fended off his attack, but eventually, one slice went through her jugular. In his hurry, he left a few fingerprints in the house, which would lead to his capture. A landscaper, in fact, was the reason he was caught, after calling with an unusual tip: "Yes, Bob runs. Sixty-two girls." Huh?


Earlier that morning, Jacob Mast, a gardener, had seen a car crusing through the area who seemed suspicious. So, he decided to come up with a way to remember the car's license plate if something came up. The license plate was YBR62G.


They tracked Del Toro down, but he was nowhere to be found. His girlfriend pointed investigators to his cousin, Sammy Gonzales, a high school drop out who confessed that he had helped arrange Blackthorne's ex-wife's murder. He said that he had been recruited by Daniel Rocha to help out. Gonzales and Rocha were arrested on November 17. Within a month, Mexican officials found Del Toro and arrested him.


Obviously, right away, fingers were pointed at Allen Blackthorne quickly. At first, he seemed like an unlikely murderer, at least on the face. A tanned, handsome, tall millionaire with everything you could want in life. But as they looked into the messy divorce, and the stalking that followed, it looked like they may have found their man. Sheila's husband, Jamie, suspected him almost immediately. Sheila herself did, too. 10 years earlier during their divorce, she said, "He told me he was in a position to have someone else [kill me]."


More than anything, Blackthorne had a rock solid alibi. November 7, 1997, was the 5 year anniversary of his engagement to his new fiancee, Maureen. She claimed that she had "domesticated" him, training him to come home for dinner and remember anniversaries like a good husband. He brought her gifts and took her to dinner. They had 2 sons together and seemed to be in love.


And then, Maureen saw on the news: his ex-wife had been murdered that day.


Blackthorne vehemently denied his involvement in the crime. His first wife told investigators that he beat her so badly she had a miscarriage. His second wife said that he threatened to hire someone to hurt her children while she was tied up. But he continued getting bolder and bolder in his denials.


But it didn't matter. Despite some in the network of the murder backing out, there was enough testimony to convict him of conspiracy to commit murder. During the trial, Stevie, now 16, testified that he was manipulative and cruel, and had once beat her badly and told her that he didn't care if her mother died. Daryl testified that her father had duped her into revealing Sheila's address in Florida. The prosecutors piled onto the accusations, saying he orphaned his children by financing their mother's murder.


Maureen testified as well, saying that he was "a wonderful father and obedient spouse". She stood by her man, through and through.


He received 2 life sentences without the possibility of parole. He died at age 59 on November 18, 2014 of an unknown (to the public, not to anybody) cause of death.


This guy is the worst guy of all time. He wanted custody of his children (who he likely abused) so badly that he lied about their treatment, hired a man to murder her, and then expected to get custody of the children. And, he did it so poorly that everyone involved ended up arrested. Which, is good. But also, a bad criminal showing.


Blackthorne was a millionaire. He was an attractive man with a lovely wife and children. But he was cruel and manipulative, and money can't by kindness or happiness, as evidenced by his life. And perhaps he realized that his ex-wife, whom he had stalked for years, was now becoming a celebrity because of her children with another man. It just couldn't happen. He had to put an end to it.


He orphaned 2 children when he murdered their mother and went to jail himself. He stripped 4 young children, just learning how to talk, of their loving mother. He left a husband alone with 4 toddlers, his wife brutally taken from him. Sheila Bellush was so much to so many people, and some greedy asshole took her from them.


RIP, Sheila Bellush.

REFERENCES:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Sheila_Bellush

https://www.dallasobserver.com/news/daddy-deadliest-6393991


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