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Posted on Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Family of Ypsilanti homicide victim remembers a devoted father in the process of turning life around

By John Counts


Amy Morgret and Von Allen met as teenagers in middle school.

Courtesy of Amy Morgret

Family members say 29-year-old Bhagavan Allen was getting a fresh start in life when he was shot dead in an Ypsilanti street Wednesday.

Bhagavan Allen - or Von as he was known to his family - had been out of prison for two years when he was killed on South Grove Street, the victim of multiple gunshot wounds, including one to the neck. Police believe the suspect is 34-year-old Leonard Ware, of Superior Township, Von Allen’s co-worker at Marsh Plating Corp. just down the street from where police found Allen’s body lying in a bike lane in the road.

As of Friday, Ware was still at large and police were scouring a wide-ranging area looking for him. Police believe the shooting was work-related and had something to do with Allen’s job performance.

State prison records available on the Offender Tracking Information System indicate Allen was incarcerated from January 2007 to October 2010 on charges of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder and felony firearm for a Wayne County offense.

After serving the roughly four-year sentence, however, Allen was staying out of trouble, say family members, who remember him as a hard worker, a boisterous spirit, a loving fiance and a devoted father to his 5-year-old twin daughters, Isis and Isia.

“He had turned his life around,” said his grandmother, Ruby Allen, of Detroit. “He was doing good.”

At the time of Allen’s death, he and Amy Morgret, 28, were engaged to be married, she said. They had known each other half their lives when they reconnected through the Internet while he was serving time.

“We’ve known each other since he was 14 and I was 13,” Morgret said.

Allen grew up in the Detroit and Highland Park area, but moved to the Ann Arbor area for a few years when he was young, Morgret said. The two met while attending Scarlett Middle School in Ann Arbor. Allen then moved back to the Detroit area and attended Highland Park High School.

After high school, Allen worked a variety of factory-type jobs before getting into the trouble that landed him in prison, Morgret said.

“When he came home, he did a 360,” said Morgret. “He took his job very seriously. He worked his butt off.”

Allen worked at Marsh Plating Corp. for about a year, according to Morgret. The two lived together in Ypsilanti area, but frequently saw his two daughters from a previous relationship.

“He loved his family,” said older brother Erik Allen, 39, of Oak Park. “He adored (the girls).”

Both Von's brother and fiancee remember him for being a crazy, fun-loving guy.

“He’d keep a smile on your face,” Morgret said. “He was genuine. He always was the life of the party.”

Allen also is survived by his sister, Cyidha Allen; brother, James; and his mother, Virginia Allen, 59, who is currently in supervised care due to congestive heart failure, Erik Allen said. Their father is deceased.

Friends and family members were stunned to hear about the shooting.

“I would have never imagined in a million years something like this would happen,” said Morgret, who added she is “devastated” over the loss of her fiance.

Erik Allen also was surprised, considering his little brother seemed to be doing so good.

“He was doing everything right,” he said. “It’s mind-boggling. It’s real somber around here. Everyone is real shaken up.”

Police believe Ware shot Allen on South Grove Street near South Street about 4 p.m. Wednesday following a dispute at work over job performance issues. Huron Valley Ambulance paramedics took Allen to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Superior Township, but he died on the way, according to police.

The pair argued as they walked down South Grove on opposite sides of the street. Allen crossed Grove as the men approached the South Street intersection. Allen might have been expecting a continuation of the wrestling-type of physical contact the two were engaged in earlier at work when the fight started, police said.

“I don’t think he knew he had a gun,” Ypsilanti police Sgt. Thomas Eberts said. “The shooting happened immediately.”


Von Allen's 5-year-old twin daughters.

Courtesy of Amy Morgret

Ware is accused of stepping between a tree and a fence to pull a .45 caliber handgun and fire two shots at Allen, which knocked him to the ground in the bike lane of the street. The suspect then allegedly stood over Allen’s fallen body and shot three or four more rounds at him, police said.

Ware then allegedly fled on foot back toward Marsh Plating. A Belleville man working nearby at the time of the shooting followed the fleeing suspect to that area after hearing the gunshots. The man told he last saw the suspect near the plant before police arrived and put him into a patrol car for his own safety. Sheriff's officers used a dog to search Marsh Plating but lost the track by a nearby railroad.

Morgret said Allen may have mentioned Ware’s name to her in the past, but not in any way that would indicate to her that there was conflict between the two men.

“If he did, it wasn’t anything I remembered,” she said. “(Von) talked a lot.”

Morgret said the family is looking for donations for a funeral ceremony, which is currently being planned. In the meantime, she and Allen’s family are still coping with the loss and hoping police resolve the case quickly.

“We just really want to find out who did this and why,” Morgret said. “I’ll never see him again. It’s ridiculous. He’ll never be able to see his family again.”

John Counts covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Tue, Oct 9, 2012 : 6:08 p.m.

In response to the post from BhavanaJagal: Im not sure who you are talking about but I have worked at marsh for years and your friend has no clue what he or she is talking about. I know everyone at the plant level and it sounds like your friend must be management. From my point of view Mgrs have no idea whats going on on the shop floor. Is safe having all the doors open and unlocked while a suspect is at large? Is safe reporting an incident of violence only to have it ignored? Is safe firing another violent employee only to have them move to the other plant putting others in danger?


Tue, Oct 9, 2012 : 7:16 a.m.

Did Cathy and Stevek ever thought of donating the ice in their hearts to the North Pole...they could save a few polar bears.

Leonard Thornton

Sun, Oct 7, 2012 : 9:50 p.m.

This is truly sad story to read about. My heart go out to the Allen family and I will pray for them.

music to my ear

Sun, Oct 7, 2012 : 2:10 p.m.

you commentators are really hard on and no I am not sucking up ,but remember.there is one writer and what so far 52 comments. of course everyone is not going to be happy, so do you all have your journalism degree ,that you could do a better job if you don't like it don't comment at all bottom line, is this victim had struggles to turn his life around.and its is a tragedy for his family especially his little girls want to help donate to bury him.all you nay Sayers bring it on.

music to my ear

Sun, Oct 7, 2012 : 3:47 p.m.

and action speaks louder than words. he got a job he was trying ,do you know something about him other than , what you heard about his past .at some point a human has said to themselves enough is enough.why are you hating. and a non believer thats it is possible to turn your life around, even after so many convictions.


Sun, Oct 7, 2012 : 2:39 p.m.

I don't come from a perfect world, but I'm not a career criminal, either. Talk is cheap, especially when a criminal claims he's changed his ways.

music to my ear

Sun, Oct 7, 2012 : 2:32 p.m.

gee Cathy what a cheap shot .perhaps the inspiration to turn his life around was for his I have seen alot of people turn their life around to be a better parent,human being,girl you must come from a perfect world. how nice.

Middle America

Sun, Oct 7, 2012 : 11:57 a.m.

These comments are awful. In the past, has shut down the comment section on stories with considerably less offensive posts. We are all witnessing the downfall of local, meaningful news.


Sun, Oct 7, 2012 : 9:50 p.m.

Cathy is correct. Too many times when a career criminal ( who has managed not to be arrested in a WHOLE year) gets killed, they get portrayed in a whole different light. Getyourstorystraightfirst--you make him sound like a saint that he paid his bills, saw his twins, and had a job. That is what normal people do, they shouldn't be praised for that.

Middle America

Sun, Oct 7, 2012 : 8:42 p.m.

"Just because I guy gets murdered doesn't suddenly make his criminal behavior off limits." If you have no class, nothing is off limits.


Sun, Oct 7, 2012 : 4:07 p.m.

cathy- who cares about his criminal behavior? i'm sure we could go on MDOC & find plenty worse!!


Sun, Oct 7, 2012 : 2:18 p.m.

Just because I guy gets murdered doesn't suddenly make his criminal behavior off limits.


Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 9:09 p.m.

Mr. Allen was the victim of a shockingly cold-blooded shooting and I hope that his killer is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But seriously, 7 felonies in 9 years is more than just "a past." Mr. Allen was apparently a career criminal.


Tue, Oct 9, 2012 : 6:52 a.m.

Let him without sin cast the first stone!!!!

Life in Ypsi

Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 5:17 p.m.

This is a tragic situation and my heart goes out to his loved ones. It's shameful some people are so focused on past issues. The man was doing better things with his life and he should be remembered in a positive light. He did not deserve to be gunned downed and murdered. The comments here are pretty tame to what I have been reading on Facebook. People who know Mr. Ware are actually defending him. This is outright disrespect to the victim's family. If Mr. Ware had any shred of decency in him, he would turn himself in and plead guilty. Instead he chooses to hide out which just makes me believe he is truly a monster with no remorse.


Sun, Oct 7, 2012 : 4:06 p.m.

stevek- you're OK with people defending the suspect when he's accused of murdering someone in broad daylight?? after 1 shot made him fall, then standing over his fallen body & shooting 3-4 more times to make sure he was deceased???


Sun, Oct 7, 2012 : 4:04 p.m.

stevek- not at all...i have known his fiancee for many years & just got to know von the last couple years. but, i'm not one to hold someones past against them. he was working, paying all the bills in his household, seeing his twins every weekend, had a wonderful sense of humor, made his fiancee very happy, loved my godkids, etc. i could go on & on. no one was making him turn his life around, he realized that was something he needed to do for himself & his family.


Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 11:50 p.m.

getyourstorystraightfirst--So did you have a hand in helping him turn his life around?


Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 11:10 p.m.

this information makes me sick to the stomach considering i know the victims fiancee


Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 9:02 p.m.

If he had a shred of decency, he wouldn't have shot the victim in the first place, let alone stand over him for a coup de grace.


Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 5:10 p.m.

We invade Afghanistan and Iraq to bring civilization. We should invade ourselves.


Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 3:32 p.m. <-- the killers facebook. I hope he turns himself in. I hope it tears him up inside to know he took a life. My prayers goes to Allen and his family.


Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 3:15 p.m.

How to prevent crime? : A friend of mine works at this Company as a supervisor and he has a very long history of employment there. He may not be allowed to openly state his view or opinion about this incident. Marsh Plating Corporation is a good place to work and is known for its productivity and has been a good employer providing a safe and healthy environment to work. My friend has a good impression about these two individuals and apparently there is no indication of a problem that is truly related to work or work performance. I am very familiar with this area where this incident took place. My concern is about prevention of crime. I speak about human nature and I describe the two aspects of human nature that are related to human spirit, and human soul. The human spirit describes man's essence; his quest for Freedom. The human soul describes man's dependence; his conditioned existence that demands compassion, grace, and mercy. I say that I can prevent crime if I use my freedom while I recognize that my existence is established by the operation of Compassion/Grace/Mercy.


Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 2:37 p.m.

The comments on this article provide a reminder of a question rarely examined: how does someone with a felony conviction turn their life around? Do most of us even give them a chance to do so? The venom shown here towards someone who was just murdered is incredible. It's a reminder of the tremendous odds someone faces once the lifelong label of felon is applied.


Tue, Oct 9, 2012 : 1:27 a.m.

edit to comment. posted by accident. As I was saying its truely disgraceful that Cathy is ok with offending the victims loved ones. It is truly disrespectful. While Cathy is entitled to her opinions, she shows no tact in placing them on this public forum at this paticular time. The same could be said for many other comments here today. Just because you can doesnt mean you should.


Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 11:09 p.m.

Cathy- how can you even judge someone when you haven't known them a day in your life? Rather, get your head out of the sand


Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 9:16 p.m.

Come on, the guy didn't just shoplift candy. He had 7 felonies in 9 years, including an Assault Intent Great Bodily Harm. His repeat offending demonstrates the very reason that people are hesitant to hire felons in the first place. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, and the idea that Allen had turned his life around just because he had gone one-and-a-half years without a felony is naive at best. The comments re: episodes like this show how seriously sick people are of career criminals and their terrorizing of the community. Allen did not deserved to be killed in cold blood, but he wasn't a nice person, either. If that offends some people, they should get their heads out of the sand.


Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 1:52 p.m.

It's a shame for people to get caught up into someone's past. Despite what went on, the man didn't deserve to be killed. Many need to think how would they feel if it was your loved one? This was still someone's son, brother, and father and the man was leaving work not out involved in another crime. Fortunately, nobody else was injured or killed during this tragic incident.

Jonathan Blutarsky

Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 1:40 p.m.

The hate I read in these comments are amazing. Fact is the man was brutally executed by the perp. Don't you people have any compassion for fellow human being?


Tue, Oct 9, 2012 : 1:51 a.m.

the answer to your question is, "no they dont"


Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 4:20 p.m.

thanks jonathan! i agree this is pure hate. if their loved one was gunned down they wouldn't be talking like this

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 3:12 p.m.

we are playing a game of semantics Johnathan. The term "hate" is way overused in my opinion. Just because some folks toss out facts and timelines that may run a bit counter to the jist of the story doesn't mean they "hate" the victim.

Jonathan Blutarsky

Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 2:51 p.m.

Craig - indifference would mean saying nothing.


Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 2:34 p.m.

JB is correct to use the word hate. The guy was just murdered and two young children are w/o a father, yet the comments make it seem like he was to blame. That's hate, not indifference.

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 2:12 p.m.

I might suggest your not reading "hate" so much as "indifference".


Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

I realize that Ann isn't the New York Times but the phrase " the process of turning his life around" is such a lame and over-used cliche it should be dropped from further use in news reporting. People responding to this story have heard that trite nonsense so many times before that it has bred a cynical attitude in them that come across to many others as callous and mean. I think that this outpouring of jaded negative comments toward the murder victim is to some degree caused by the cliches the writers here use when they report.


Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 9 p.m.

if Ann Arbor such Superior , best place to live, then why cant Ann be the new york times?

tom swift jr.

Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 1:30 p.m., are you really going to let a discussion this cruel continue??? I am absolutely amazed that money means more than compassion, for God's sake, the man is dead.

Middle America

Sun, Oct 7, 2012 : 12:04 p.m.

Of course they are. They just make the commenting guidelines up as they go along.


Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 12:56 p.m.

Shocked at the inhumane comments here. This man may not have been a "pillar" in the community but he did not deserve to be shot multiple times in cold blood and left to die on the street. He was not fleeing a crime, he was leaving work! There might have even been a lot of trash talking etc....but to pull a gun out, cross the street and fill this guy with bullets is nonsense. I am sorry for his family, regardless of what his past was, he was someones son, brother, and father.


Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 4:19 p.m.

the worse part was he was shot 2 times initially which made me fall to the ground, then the suspect supposedly stood over him & shot 3-4 more times

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 2:10 p.m.

"....but to pull a gun out, cross the street and fill this guy with bullets is nonsense." according to the original story the gunman didn't cross the street toward the victim, it was the other way around. The victim crossed the street toward the gunman. I am just pointing out what the original story said, nothing more than that.


Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 1:44 p.m.

Well said Nancy, well said.


Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 1:23 p.m.

thank you Nancy for finally posting something to makes complete sense!!!! thank you, i completely agree with you


Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 12:17 p.m.

Those two little girls will be on my mind for a long time. "Where's daddy?" can be a heart-breaking question. And all because someone thought that "job performance" is worth fighting and killing for.

Elaine F. Owsley

Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 11:56 a.m.

No mention of how the suspect got from being put in police car to being at large. Did someone forget to lock the doors?

Jake C

Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 5:36 p.m.

jondhall: That is the correct way to interpret that sentence, but it doesn't help that it's written poorly. A better sentence would have been: "The witness told he last saw the suspect near the plant. Shortly afterwards, police arrived and put the witness into a patrol car for his own safety".


Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 12:03 p.m.

Elaine, I do believe the mention is about the Witness not the suspect. " The man told he last saw the suspect near the plant before police arrived and put him into a patrol car for his own safety."


Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 11:59 a.m.

I think the witness was in the car, not the perp.


Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 11:15 a.m.

Per OTIS, his latest offence was 3/16/2011. Not sure if I would categorize that as "staying out of trouble" like this article says.


Tue, Oct 9, 2012 : 8:02 a.m.

Whose life is so perfect that they can stand up a judge others...NOT ALL CRIMINALS MAKE IT TO JAIL OR ON OTIS!!!


Sun, Oct 7, 2012 : 2:35 p.m.

EyeHeart, I am thoroughly convinced that many people just cant say "no" to being on tv or interviewed for print. I see people on the news whose loved one is tragically killed and when most people would be too broken to leave their home, some are mugging for the news camera. I just don't get it....


Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 11:45 p.m.

getyourstorystraightfirst-yes everyone has a past, unfortunately he didn't learn from his past.


Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 2:49 p.m.

The story was about how he had "turned his life around". You need to read no further than the headline to see this. In fact, he didn't seem to have done this as evidenced by recent criminal activity he was convicted for. So yes, with respect to this story, it is quite relevant. Honestly, if his "wife" (which for some reason the writer calls "fiance") didn't want this discussed, perhaps a "no comment" or "please don't write that story" would have been a good response from her.


Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 1:22 p.m.

is that all you guys can think about? everyone has a past & what should be the focus now is that a young man, with lots of life ahead of him, is gone forever- leaving 2 small children & a wife. gone forever for something so senseless, that should be the focus

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 12:15 p.m.

Maybe that has to do with the "When he came home, he did a 360," thing. He should have stopped at 180.


Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 10:51 a.m.

I find it really funny that if I were to post a comment that spoke to facts regarding the victim's criminal past, then they would be deleted, but they can be included in a story? Wouldn't a simple, "he has had previous criminal charges against him but is now turning his life around" work? Did you really have to post the length of incarceration for the victim and the exact charges that he was locked up for?


Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 11:45 a.m.

At least they have some context this time. In the original article they simply posted a police comment about his "criminal history". I still say that was very poor judgement on the part of