Allen Lafferty arrived home from his construction job in late 1984 and encountered a murder scene seemingly plucked from the bowels of hell. His wife, Brenda Lafferty, lay in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor; his 15-month-old baby, Erica, dead in her crib.
The perpetrators of the heinous crimes had disconnected the phone lines, so he rushed to the neighbor’s house to call authorities. Allen, innocent of the murders but perhaps carrying a guilty conscience, returned and prayed next to his wife’s body.
Police arrived and arrested Allen, but they swiftly realized that he wasn’t responsible for the deaths. Allen pointed police to his brother, Ron Lafferty, as the murderer. The Lafferty murders and the unfortunate inspirations behind them feature in Hulu’s Under the Banner of Heaven.
Allen reportedly started a new family and a still a member of the Latter-Day Saints
Allen was right: Ron had murdered his wife with the help of their brother Dan. He was the first witness in Ron’s trial.
Ron and Dan displayed no remorse for their actions: they considered the murders righteous and willed by God. Dan told Deseret News that Allen never talked about the murders to him:
“Allen once asked my mom why I wouldn’t repent. There’s some things you can’t repent for. I’m sure Allen thought I was talking about an unpardonable sin. What I meant is, you don’t repent for things that aren’t wrong.”
Unlike his brother Ron who hogged news headlines until he died in 2019, Allen dipped under the radar following the trial. He reportedly started a new family with his partner.
Allen settled the family in Los Angeles, where rumors claim he worked for a production company. In 2015, he moved the family to Saratoga Springs, Utah, where he became a motivational speaker and lifestyle coach.
Allen’s still devoted to the Latter Day Saints church and often turns to religion during tough times.
Allen could have stopped the murders had he acted decisively
“He’s [Allen] the one who let her [Brenda] down,” Betty McEntire, Brenda’s sister, told Deseret News. “He should have taken care of her that day. I have a hard time not thinking he knew something.”
Allen and Brenda met in Provo, Utah, at a Latter-Day Saints congregation for students. Betty revealed that Brenda had dated many men before, but none of them charmed her like Allen.
“Allen is a charmer – all the Lafferty boys have this ability to charm the socks off you,” Betty told Jon Krakauer, author of Under the Banner of Heaven. “They have this look in their eyes. And Brenda fell for it.”
Brenda’s family approved of Allen, but they began to see a different side of him after the marriage. He pressured Brenda into giving up her career aspirations to stay at home and raise their children.
The picture-perfect Lafferty family, led by the persuasive Ron, started to follow a dangerous path to religious fundamentalism. However, Brenda prevented Allen from joining his brothers and, in doing so, made a couple of dangerous enemies. Her mother, LaRae Wright, said:
“Brenda stood up to those Lafferty boys. She told [Allen] in no uncertain terms that she didn’t want him doing things with his brothers. And the brothers blamed her for that, for keeping their family apart. The Lafferty boys didn’t like Brenda, because she got in their way.”
Try as she might, Brenda couldn’t keep Allen away from his brothers at all times. Dan told Allen about the revelations from God that Brenda and Erica needed to ‘removed in rapid succession that an example be made of them.’
Allen said that he would defend his family at all costs. However, he didn’t tell Brenda about the murder plot. “If he had told Brenda about Ron’s revelation, she would have been out there in a minute and would still be alive today,” Betty said. “But Brenda didn’t know anything about it.”