Maureen Allaben, the spunky set decorator for “The Mo’Nique Show” and a local food stylist, was killed Sunday by her husband, who drove for two days with her body in the bed of his pickup truck before turning himself in, authorities said Wednesday.
After killing his wife, Dennis Allaben drove from the couple’s home in Tucker to Virginia and told his relatives there on Monday about the murder, acting DeKalb County Police Chief William O’Brien said. Allaben then fled his relatives’ home, returned to the Atlanta area and early Tuesday morning walked into Clayton County Police Headquarters.
“He just showed up at [Clayton County] police headquarters and said he’d killed his wife,” O’Brien said.
Police then recovered 43-year-old Maureen Allaben’s body, which had been wrapped up, from her husband’s blue Ford pickup. Dennis Allaben, 46, who tested underground storage tanks, is now in custody at the DeKalb jail and charged with murder.
O’Brien said he did not know why Allaben killed his wife. DeKalb detectives, after searching the couple’s three-story brick home in Tucker, found no evidence of foul play. O’Brien also did not disclose how Maureen Allaben was killed.
A DeKalb police report said that on Monday, Dennis Allaben drove to his relatives’ home in Chesterfield, Va., and dropped off his two children. The report did not say if the children knew their slain mother was in the back of the pickup.
Allaben told his relatives that he had killed his wife and was leaving the children with them, the report said. A woman who answered the phone Wednesday at the Allaben home in Chesterfield said the family had no comment.
On Wednesday afternoon, two of Maureen Allaben’s friends and their children showed up at the Allabens’ Tucker home and laid flowers on the doorstep.
“It’s shocking,” said Jennifer Boyanton, whose children went to school with the Allabens’ young boy and girl. “They were a wonderful family. … She could light up a room.”
Tara Gilmore, also a family friend, said her thoughts are with the Allabens’ children. “I just hope they’re safe,” she said. “It’s a terrible loss.”
Maureen Allaben was a “food stylist” who arranged and shot photos of food through a company called Creative Avenues. Among her clients were Atlanta Bread Company, Home Depot, Olive Garden and Turner Broadcasting. She was working as a decorator for the Mo’Nique comedy show on BET.
Close friend Tami Hardeman, who talked on the phone with Allaben late Sunday afternoon, said she gave no indication that anything was wrong.
“It’s so sad,” Hardeman said. “She was at the height of her career, the top of her game.”
Allaben was “an extremely hard worker who was vivacious and full of life,” said Shirlene Brooks of Crews Inc., Allaben’s agent. “She was very giving of her time and her knowledge of the industry.”
Brooks said the Allabens just got a new dog from the pound. “It makes no sense,” she said.