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Woman With Shotgun Won’t Leave Home

October 2, 1997

ROBY, Ill. (AP) _ Taking a 51-year-old widow in for a court-ordered psychological exam was supposed to be routine, meant to ease the concerns of her family.

Instead, it has turned into an 11-day standoff at her home in the cornfields of central Illinois.

Shirley Ann Allen met sheriff’s deputies at the door with a shotgun on Sept 22. Since, she has withstood a tear gas attack and fired twice at troopers surrounding her house in a rural, sparsely populated neighborhood near Springfield.

Troopers and deputies have played her favorite music to soothe her and tried unsuccessfully to talk to her by telephone and through a bullhorn. Today, they decided to pull back, reducing the number of lawmen and removing floodlights and loud speakers they had directed at the house.

``We are not in a situation where we can just walk away from it and leave (her) on her own,″ State Police Director Terrance Gainer said. ``She definitely poses a threat to people who may wander onto her property.″

Two nearby homes were evacuated and the neighbors will not be allowed to return until the standoff is resolved, he said.

Allen, a former nurse, has an abundance of food she has canned herself, Christian County Sheriff Dick Mahan said. Neighbors said she hunted with her husband, who died of pancreatic cancer in 1989, and is familiar with weapons and bow hunting.

Allen, while reclusive, was amiable over the years, though her relatives said she grew depressed after the death of her husband. Neighbors noticed some changes this year. Her yard, always a beauty, became unkempt. They saw less of her.

Her brother and mother tried to visit her on Labor Day weekend but she refused to see them, Mahan said. When she didn’t respond, the sheriff and a neighbor tried to contact her with no luck.

Negotiators had tried for days to communicate with Allen every 15 minutes, including putting relatives on to plead with her to surrender. For the first time Tuesday night, they cut off communication to give her a chance to rest and will not try to talk with her again.

Troopers also have stopped playing her favorite classical music and pop tunes, including Barry Manilow and the Beatles, during the day.

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