PBSO: Delray-area man, 71, started fire, hit woman in tiff over furniture

Claffin Allen

Claffin Allen

A suburban Delray Beach man, angry at his girlfriend for moving tables and chairs without his permission, tried to set their shared residence on fire last week, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

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Claffin Allen, 76, was arrested on charges of arson, battery and criminal mischief Thursday after deputies arrived to smoke “billowing out of (his) residence” near Atlantic Avenue and Jog Road west of the city. He was released from the Palm Beach County Jail on Friday on $19,000 bond.

Allen’s girlfriend, 71, said Allen got verbally abusive over the phone Thursday because she had been moving furniture in their house. According to a probable-cause affidavit, the woman went to the home to pack her belongings because she wanted to get away from Allen for a while. While she was packing, Allen began pouring gasoline around the room she was in and said he was going to burn the house down.

The woman said when she tried to stop him, he began hitting her in the face and body. She ran outside, and Allen followed her with a sledgehammer and began striking her car. The report stated Allen smashed the rear window and front windshield and dented the car’s hood.

Deputies reported seeing red marks on the victim’s face, chest, neck and upper back, consistent with what she alleged.

Another deputy’s report stated that Allen admitted to starting a fire in his house because he was angry about the relationship issues he was having with his girlfriend.

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