2005-11-02 03:08:46 UTC
'St. Louis Post-Dispatch'
"Killing suspect found dead before arrest"
By Heather Ratcliffe
A woman facing arrest in the poisoning murder of her boyfriend, a Boeing
engineer with whom she lived for many years, was found dead this weekend at
her south St. Louis County home.
Prosecutors intended to charge Tamara Rallo, 52, with second-degree murder
in the June 2004 death of John Mullen, 67, of Chesterfield.
Five months after his autopsy, death investigators confirmed that Mullen had
been poisoned with arsenic. Chesterfield investigators, who suspected Rallo
at the time, spent the last year interviewing witnesses and gathering
physical evidence in the case.
Prosecutors called Chesterfield police Monday to authorize her arrest and
begin the process of issuing charges.
However, family members found Rallo dead Saturday at her residence in the
4600 block of Meadalton Way. Rallo was the owner-operator of Metro Pawn,
located at 8286 St. Charles Rock Road.
St. Louis County police were investigating Rallo's death, which does not
appear to involve foul play. Authorities said Rallo may have committed
"To our knowledge, she had no idea that any of this was coming," said Don
Schneider, a spokesman for St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert
It wasn't clear where the arsenic came from. Household products that contain
arsenic -- a naturally occurring mineral found in soil, bedrock, and
water -- include rat poison, pesticides and wood preservatives.
Authorities said physical evidence, combined with inconsistencies in Rallo's
statements to investigators, led to the charges. Investigations involving
poison often take months to solve, in part because lab testing takes time,
and in part because investigators have a more difficult time pinpointing the
cause of death.
Arsenic often can be tricky to identify and trace, given that the poison is
colorless, usually tasteless and doesn't linger in the body. Symptoms of
arsenic poisoning mimic those of other ailments.
Exposure to a toxic dose of arsenic produces a dry, burning sensation in the
mouth and throat and a constricted feeling in the throat, followed by severe
abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhea and vomiting, according to the medical
Web site www.emedicine.com.
Arsenic attacks the liver, kidneys, brain and heart, causing some victims to
go into a coma, suffer convulsions and have severe brain damage, in other
cases causing death.
The Associated Press contributed information for this story.
KSDK-tv (5, NBC), St. Louis
"Police Say Love, Money Motive For Scientist's Murder After Suspect Found
created: 11/1/2005 9:26:17 AM
updated: 11/1/2005 6:14:00 PM
By Randy Jackson
(KSDK) - Love and money, police say, are the motives for murder that took
the life of a well known Chesterfield physicist.
And now the prime suspect is dead.
When 67-year-old Dr. John Mullen complained of stomach pain the night of
June 29, 2004, police say he was about to become a murder victim.
An autopsy would find acute arsenic poisoning as the cause of death.
Almost immediately, his long-time girlfriend, 52-year-old Tamara "Tammy"
Rallo was a prime suspect.
Detectives say she told them she drank water from the same bottle Mullen had
used, but she was fine.
"Later on with the lab reports, it was pretty obvious that was not an
accurate statement," said Det. Sgt. Bob Wickenhausen.
Chesterfield police were scheduled to arrest Rallo Tuesday morning, but
Saturday she was found dead in her South County Home. Police say there are
no indications of foul play in her death.
While investigators say the passing of Tamara Rallo may take with it a lot
of unanswered questions, they do believe they know the motives for the
murder: love & money.
"We believe Tammy wanted much more of the relationship, marriage,
commitment, the financial stability that comes along with it. There was from
some things that pointed to the possibility that it had gotten to the point
that he was going to cut her off financially," said Captain Nestor.
Dr. John Mullen used to work at McDonnell-Douglas, and was part owner of
Creve Coeur Airport.
Tuesday, just feet from pictures of him in his restored vintage bi-plane,
fellow pilots gathered and remembered him.
Carol Kerner says, "I remember John as someone who really loved aviation and
somebody who really worked very hard for this airport, everyone here still
misses him a lot."
Now with Rallo's death, boxes of interviews and evidence will be filed away.
There will be no trial.
Still, detectives say their pursuit of the truth was not in vane.
"I would hope the family knew we were doing a 100% job in trying to find
justice for them, and their loved one," said Det. Sgt. Wickenhausen.