By Abraham Aboraya
November 26, 2008
SANFORD - Just before Seminole County Judge O.H. Eaton sentenced Oviedo murderer Andrew Allred to death, he asked if Allred had anything to say.
Allred, thin, bearded and clad in a blue jumpsuit, shook his head from side to side. Never once did he look back at the crowd of press, family members and those close to the case.
Eaton sentenced Allred to death for murdering Tiffany Barwick and again for the death of Michael Ruschak. For shooting a third man in the leg, Allred was sentenced to life in prison.
"He's never once said he's sorry," said Janice Ruschak, the mother of Michael Ruschak. "He does know he did something that was legally wrong and he should be punished and he thinks the death penalty is the right punishment. But he's not sorry he did what he did."
Allred murdered Barwick and Ruschak on Sept. 24, 2007. Barwick and Allred had been dating for about a year, and they broke up on Allred's 21st birthday in August.
After that, Allred began stalking Barwick. He hacked into her Facebook and MySpace accounts, sending profane messages to Tiffany's family, pretending to be her, according to police reports.
He got into her bank account and told Michael that the next time he saw him, he was going to kill him. Both Ruschak and Barwick went to the Seminole County Sheriff's Office and asked for help, but deputies said there wasn't enough evidence for an arrest.
Hours later, Allred came to the house in Oviedo and killed Ruschak and Barwick.
"Your life never goes back to normal," Janice Ruschak said. "You can't ever fix the changes that have been made. But I won't be watching the docket anymore."
When Allred drove his truck to the house on Shady Oak Lane in Oviedo, he repeatedly rammed his truck into Barwick's car. He tried to come through the front door but couldn't.
He shot out the sliding glass door in the back, walked past a group of friends he knew, and shot Michael Ruschak in the kitchen. Eric Roberts, who was renting the house where Michael lived, grabbed Allred and tried to wrestle the gun from him, ultimately getting shot in the leg.
Then Allred shot Ruschak two more times, went into the bathroom where Barwick was hiding and shot her seven times. Tiffany died while on the phone with 911.
Both Kimberly Barwick and Tony Barwick were at the sentencing. They told a crowd of reporters after the sentencing that Allred was no longer in their lives.
Both families said they would attend the execution. Allred's case will get an automatic appeal to the Florida Supreme Court.
"You really can't get closure," Chuck Ruschak said.
The Ruschak family has filed an notice of intent with the Seminole County Sheriff's Office, saying the police department should have intervened before the murders. While damages aren't yet specific, the family is seeking more than $15,000.
Both Chuck and Janice have said there's still some anger toward the department.
"Things could have been different," Chuck Ruschak said. "The character and courage my son showed could have been shown three and a half hours earlier that evening."
Janice said she saw Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger on television news last week; the Sheriff's Office was announcing a new GPS program to track domestic violence offenders in real time.
"There's still a good bit of 'I don't think it should happen,'" Janice said. "I don't think they go above and beyond to protect and serve. And they should. I do that in my business, and I think they should in theirs. And they would expect it if it was their family member."
The Barwick family said the sentence brings them closure, that Allred is out of their lives. Chuck Ruschak said he would rather Allred spend the rest of his life in prison.
"I think part of that just shows how much of a coward he is," Janice said. "I think that's why he's asking for the death penalty, because he can't do it himself but he thinks it's the right thing to do."