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Saturday, February 18, 2023

The Cracker Barrel Murders: No Escaping Kevin Allen

     In June 1995, the day he received word that he and his wife were divorced, 35-year-old Kevin E. Allen assaulted his girlfriend, Janice Koerlin. A few months later, the diagnosed manic-depressive from Kirtland, Ohio, a town 20 miles east of Cleveland, married Koerlin. In September of that year, police arrested Allen after he tried to suffocate his new wife with a pillow. This was a man who had no business being around women. This was a man who needed to be locked up.

     In 2004 Kevin Allen filed for personal bankruptcy for the second time. (He had filed for bankruptcy in 1991.) Four years later the police in North Royalton, Ohio arrested him. He was now married to his fifth wife with whom he had fathered two daughters. Mr. Allen was charged with theft and burglary.

     In March 2011, Kevin and his fifth wife Katherina, who went by Kate and was ten years younger than him, lived in Strongsville, Ohio with their daughters Kerri and Kayla. That year Kevin and Kate filed for personal bankruptcy. They were in debt $60,000. Although Kevin Allen, with his short, thinning gray hair and his trimmed white beard looked like a friendly guy, he continued to be a bellicose bad-tempered husband. People went out of their way to avoid him. In 2011, Allen went several months without paying his gas bill and threatened to shoot anybody from the utility company who came to his place to shut if off. A gas company employee did go to the house, but with a police escort.

     In early April 2012, the domestic abuse had gotten so intense and frequent, Kate and the girls moved into a friend's house. On April 12, Kate decided to take Kerri and Kayla to the Cracker Barrel restaurant in nearby Brooklyn, Ohio to celebrate Kerri Allen's tenth birthday. Kate had invited her estranged husband and in the relative safety of a crowded restaurant planned to inform Kevin that she wanted a divorce.

     After the late dinner, while still at the Cracker Barrel, Kate broke the news that she was leaving him. Infuriated, Kevin stormed out of the restaurant, but instead of driving home, he circled the parking lot in his silver Jeep Liberty. Worried that Kevin might become violent, Kate, at 8:40, called 911. "I'm having some spouse problems," she said.

     Kate informed the 911 dispatcher that she had just told her estranged husband that she was leaving  him, and he hadn't taken it very well. At that moment, Kevin Allen was outside the Cracker Barrel restaurant driving around the parking lot. A few minutes later, as Kate spoke to the 911 dispatcher, Kevin re-entered the restaurant and approached her and the children carrying a single barrel shotgun. The local police rolled up to the scene just as Kevin disappeared inside the building.

     The police officers, aware that Kevin Allen had gone into the restaurant armed with a shotgun, decided to remain outside. They were afraid that if they went in after him innocent bystanders would get shot in the cross-fire. The police were also worried that Allen, if confronted inside, might take a hostage.

     When Kevin Allen got to his wife's table, without saying a word, he shot her and their two children. The transcript of the 911 call, just before the shooting went like this:

DISPATCHER: "Wait in the lobby for the officers. Do not go outside. Let them talk to him, okay? "

KATE: "He's here and the police are here, too. I have to..." (Gunfire could be heard on the dispatcher's end.)


     After murdering his wife and his daughter Kerri, and seriously wounding Kayla, Mr. Allen walked out the front door of the restaurant where he encountered the police. When he refused to drop his shotgun the police opened fire killing him on the spot.

     When Kevin Allen strode into the Cracker Barrel carrying the shotgun bedlam broke out with patrons running for cover. The manager helped many diners exit the place through a rear door. None of the customers were injured.

     Medics  rushed Kayla Allen to a nearby hospital where she survived her wounds. People criticized the officers for not immediately entering the restaurant. But they were faced was a difficult dilemma. Had the police gone in, more people could have been killed. In reality there is only so much the police can do. The police cannot always save families from abusive, murderous husbands. For Kate Allen and her children there was no escaping this violent, manic depressive man.


  1. On the recording, A police officer can clearly be heard saying that he sees Kevin Allen "Driving around the parking lot" I don`t understand if the cop sees him before he even gets out of his car, Why did he let him exit his car with a gun and enter the restaurant? Now they`re trying to make themselves look less incompetant by saying they pulled up as he entered the restaurant.The recording proves that`s not true.

  2. Just some side notes. On the theft charges he was acquitted. Neighbors actually describe them as an everyday normal happy family and were very shocked. If they knew more of his history I doubt they would have been so shocked. He also tried commuting suicide several times. Kayla passed due to complications with her injuries on May 15, 2012.

  3. Reading your blog post made me more aware about the matter. Thanks for sharing what you know. Many people will surely appreciate this post of yours.

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  4. This is by far one of the saddest and most shocking cases of domestic violence turned murder. Especially on the daughter's birthday. The Ohio BCI released the surveillance tapes and they are chilling. The perp chases his kids around the gift shop with a rifle. There were several other children and bystanders nearby. The one daughter sought refuge in the restroom but couldn't escape this tryant. My condolences to the family.

  5. I didn't know the family, but I live a mile from where they lived. The daughters played in the same rec soccer league as my daughters. Strongsville appears to be the safest place in the world. I still think about this and those beautiful girls. If there is a lesson to the world, teach your daughters to stay away from angry unstable men. It is only a matter of time.

  6. For the record, Kevin Allen was married 5 times, not 3. Kate was his 5th wife. 1st wife Amy, 2nd wife Holly, 3rd wife Wynn (who he fathered a daughter with), 4th wife Janice, 5th wife Kate.

  7. Calling the those officers incompetent is an insult to harmless incompetents out there! I read somewhere else that the officers arrived there before the scumbag walked back inside to murder his family. "Police arrived 3 minutes before first shot was fired inside the restaurant..." So, even if they were cowards and didn't go in soon enough to save the wife, after hearing those first shots they could have at least tried to save the girls! Anybody who has been to that restaurant knows they could have had a clear view of him through tje oversized windows, specially at night when it's dark outside and bright inside the restaurant. Ridiculous the lady's brother sued the restaurant! Restaurant employees are not paid or even trained to protect patrons from violence. The police is.