Cold Case Files: The Note

SPOKANE, Wash. -- It was an unseasonably cool, late June night. Steven Allison, 44, was walking home after a few beers with his brother. It would be the last thing he'd ever do. Somewhere along with the path home, he was attacked and viciously beaten. Records show the back of his head had severe injuries and a shoe print was clearly visible on his forehead. The family believes this was random, but police have long suspected it was someone much closer to home.

Steven Allison came from a large family. He was the third child born out of 11. He and his brother Tom Allison were extremely close.

"We tried to do as much fishing as we could, and we loved to watch the Gonzaga Bulldogs together," Tom Allison said. "Even after all these years, it's just like it was yesterday. I will never forget him, never. He wasn't just my brother he was my best friend."

Tom lost that best friend on June 29, 2005. That's the night his brother was so badly beaten, he slipped into a coma. He never regained consciousness and was removed from life support in the following days.

Tom said the family had worried about Steven for years and feared they may lose him, but never like this.

"He had all kinds of health problems," he said. "He had open heart surgeries. He couldn't have fought his way out of a wet paper bag."

Tom said Steven was also hit by a car in the months before his murder. 

"It was like he had nine lives," he said.

They always believed no matter what life handed Steven, he'd pull through. But when Tom was called to the hospital in those early morning hours, he knew right away this time was much different.

"I'm the one who had to walk into the hospital to make sure it was my brother," he said. "What I saw was indescribable. To think someone just stomped on his forehead. You could see the shoe print."

Doctors told the family they believe someone hit Steven on the back of the head too. That's where the most critical injuries were found, but his whole body was the subject of a horrific beating. Robbery did not appear to be the motive as nothing was taken. At 5'11, 160 pounds, Steven may have been a target of someone just looking to carry out evil. At least, that's what his loved ones have always feared.

"He was not a violent person by any means," Tom said. "He didn't go out looking for trouble. Why someone had to this, I don't know. It's not like he was a millionaire or had any money on him. Someone just jumped him and beat him to death."

A search warrant from 2005 shows police collected Steven's belongings from the hospital to search for any leads. They also state how the investigation got off to a rough start, stating in part, "Officers responded to the area of Ash and Indiana on a report of a man bleeding. (A responding officer) contacted Steven A. Allison who was bleeding from the had. At first, Allison stated he had fallen and would not give information reference an assault."

The records go on to state that Steven Allison eventually did acknowledge the attack. Reports state SPD did not call for paramedics to take Steven to the hospital but instead took him to the ER in a patrol car. Within hours, the hospital notified SPD that Steven Allison was dying and this case could very likely become a homicide.

"The details are just, they're horrifying," Tom said.

Tom was one of the last people to see his brother. They had a few beers each and just enjoyed each other's company. When Steven left, Tom said he didn't seem drunk. He was in good spirits and nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

"He was just heading home, walking home like he had so many times before," he said.

The walk should have taken about 20 to 30 minutes. Somewhere along that North Spokane route, he met his killers.

Tom said they have long suspected it was a group of juveniles looking for trouble who jumped Steven. Spokane Police seemed to disagree and turned their attention to the Allison family.

"The cops, they wanted to look at the bottom on my shoes, my brother's shoes, thinking we had something to do with killing our brother," he said.

Tom said he was willing to do whatever it took to help. He said he gave them his shoes and even offered to take a lie detector test regarding his story. He said SPD never took him up on his offer.

"From night one, they thought my brother Mike (Allison) did this and that I was covering up for him," Tom said. "That's just inexcusable on the police department's behalf. There is no way we could do something like this to a family member or any human being."

Tom admits his brother Mike didn't comply with SPD's requests for him to take a polygraph. He says his brother didn't do it because he felt uncomfortable by the way he was being treated. We were unable to track Mike Allison down for a comment on this story.

Tom said he did give SPD one of the few leads in this case. He said he found a note on an old bar tab while he was packing up his brother's belongings.

"Yes, I found a note that said, 'Stevie when you least expect it, you're going to get it," and I thought it was a threat or something," he said. "I hung onto it. I gave (Spokane Police) the note."

Tom said his brother wasn't seeing anyone seriously, but he was living with a woman.

"My brother just rented a room from her, yeah, there was nothing romantic," he said.

Back in 2006, Spokane Police told reporters at the Spokesman-Review that the woman's ex-boyfriend was a 'person of interest.' Court documents state he broke into the home where she, Steven, and another person were living. Records state the ex-boyfriend threatened Steven and he was scared. The ex was arrested, but charges against him in the case were dropped.

Tom thinks looking at him as a suspect was yet another dead end.

"We don't think he was involved, no," he said.

That leaves only option three -- strangers. A homicide like that is a rarity in Spokane but those cases have happened.

Tom said it's hard to hang on to hope.

"My mom, she's getting older, she would sure like to know who killed her beloved son," he said. "And so would I."

If the last name Allison sounds familiar, that's because Steven Allison's nephew Jason Allison was murdered in Spokane in April of this year. He was shot several times on Spokane's lower south hill. His killer remains on the run as well. 

If you know anything about either case, please call Spokane Police at 509.456.2233.