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Friday, February 5, 2016
Rebecca Hardy was fatally attacked by a pit bull. The manner of death was ruled suicide.
Redacted Police Report
UPDATE 02/05/16: Under the Freedom of Information Act, the Times Herald obtained a copy of the Port Huron Police report on the death of Rebecca Hardy, who was killed by a pit bull on December 3. The dog ripped out her throat, chewed off her ears and tore into her face, including ripping out an eye and part of her nose, according to the report. The dog severed her carotid artery and broke her cervical spine, states the report. Injuries common in fatal pit bull attacks.
The police report reveals information that we and many others have long sought: Who, if anyone, actually saw Hardy climb the fence? According to the police report, a witness did. At least he saw her part way climb the fence. The pit bull intervened by latching onto her leg and pulling her fully into the unnamed owner's backyard. This yard became her graveyard after a horrific, violent pit bull attack. Oakland County Medical Examiner Ljubisa Dragovic ruled the manner of death suicide.
"(Name redacted) states he did observe a white female, that was later identified as HARDY to be at the fence of his neighbors (redacted) and (redacted) property. (Redacted) states that he did observe the brown Pit Bull and the white Husky to be outside barking at HARDY as she was at the fence. (Redacted) states that he then observed HARDY to climb the fence and have one leg over the fence onto (redacted) and (redacted) property.The last words her boyfriend, who has a child with Hardy, ever said to her was, "Get out."
"(Redacted) states that as HARDY was on the fence, the brown Pit Bull, named King, grabbed HARDY by the leg area and pulled her on the ground," according to the police report on the fatal mauling of the 22-year-old Port Huron woman. - The Times Herald, February 4, 2016
12/10/15: Victim Had Knowledge of Danger
A report from CBS Detroit cleared up some questions about the horrific mauling death of Rebecca Hardy. It seems her death was "suicide by pit bull attack." Oakland County Medical Examiner Ljubisa Dragovic had earlier called the dogs "attack dogs," but offered no explanation as to how he knew this. CBS Detroit states: "Dragovic said an investigation revealed that Hardy knew her neighbor’s dogs were dangerous and, in the past, had gone to great lengths to avoid them."
"It’s akin to someone jumping into a cage with tigers or lions at a zoo." - Oakland County ME Ljubisa DragovicDragovic also left no doubt about how Hardy entered the yard. "She did climb the fence over and enter that space,” Dragovic said. “She did not get through a gate or through the front door of the house -- and that clearly is a purposeful act." The manner of death (how the death arose) was not accidental as it most commonly is in fatal dog attacks. Hardy's death was ruled suicide because of her purposeful act of climbing into the yard with knowledge that these dogs were dangerous.
Appalling New Reality
It is no longer necessary to go to a major zoo to commit suicide by a horrific lion or bear mauling. A person can accomplish this same goal in a residential neighborhood at a home that keeps dangerous pit bulls fenced outside. This is a terribly sad reality and speaks volumes about the regularly crappy fences used by pit bull owners that are literally the only barrier between life and death. "Suicide by dog attack" is a manner of death ruling that we hope to never hear again.
12/09/15: Previous Suicide Attempt
The Detroit Free Press reports that Hardy had attempted suicide in the past and that she had recently been kicked out of her house. Oakland County Medical Examiner Ljubisa Dragovic said, "These were attack dogs. These were vicious dogs in an enclosed space. She obviously was aware of that, because she climbed over the fence to subject herself to this threat." In previous media reports, Port Huron Police have not stated if the dogs had a history of aggression.
This could only be suicide if Hardy had crystal clear knowledge of the dogs' vicious propensities. The entire suicide theory hinges on it.A toxicology report is still pending. However, Dragovic also said, "If (drugs or alcohol) were a factor in general behavior, it still does not eliminate the purposeful act of climbing into the dangerous area." Again, assuming that Hardy knew it was dangerous and that the dogs would attack her. Her fiancé, Matt Grattan, said, "I, in no way, shape or form believe that she was looking to hurt herself on that day. She had a little girl ... She wanted us to be a family," Grattan said.
Information Based on Witnesses
The Detroit News reports that the manner of Rebecca Hardy’s death (suicide) "was determined based on information given to police by witnesses during the investigation,” Port Huron Police Captain Jeff Baker said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. We know so far that one witness was a neighbor that came to her aid and beat the male pit bull with a two-by-four. Another witness is the dogs' owner who was alerted to the attack by the neighbor and also intervened to help.
"It's a sad story, but these are the facts." - Oakland County ME Ljubisa DragovicBy late afternoon, The Times Herald had updated their earlier breaking news story to include these details and more. Dragovic told The Herald, "She climbed the fence and jumped in and basically subjected herself to the attacks, which constitutes a purposeful act." The Herald also reported that police turned over a request of charges for the dogs' owner, which is a very strong indicator that these dogs indeed have a history of vicious acts. The investigation continues.
12/09/15: Mauling Death Ruled Suicide?
In a breaking news update, the Oakland County Medical Examiner's office has ruled the death of 22-year old Rebecca Hardy a suicide. Of the 400 plus fatal dog attacks we have reviewed at DogsBite.org over the last 8-years, we have never seen an ME office rule the manner of death a suicide. Every now and again, somewhere in the world, a person will enter into a lion's pen at a zoo to commit suicide. Entering into a residential yard with two dogs is hardly comparable.
Why would Hardy assume these dogs would kill her? She had a pit bull in her own household, according to family Facebook photo albums.1 Two days after her death, her fiancé posted publicly defending the breed stating, "its not the breed its the people that teach them.i know countless pitbulls that would never hurt a fly." [sic] In the wake of her death, her mother also defended the pit bull breed. "It’s all how you raise them," Terresa-Jesse Engel told the Huron Daily Tribune.
12/07/15: Dogs Euthanized After Attack
Two adult dogs, a male pit bull and female pit bull-husky mix,2 and one puppy were euthanized Friday after the mauling death of a 22-year old woman. Both adult dogs were involved in the vicious attack that killed Rebecca Hardy on December 3, according to Port Huron Police Captain Jeff Baker. The owner of the two dogs and four pit bull-husky mix puppies gave consent for the animals to be euthanized after the attack, according to St. Clair County Sheriff Tim Donnellon.
The euthanizations were carried out by St. Clair County Animal Control. Both adult pit bulls and one puppy were euthanized before the owner submitted a letter rescinding the consent Friday afternoon through a lawyer, Donnellon said. "At that point, we stopped and returned the three puppies to the lawyer," he said. Regardless of the letter, neither of the adults would have been returned to the owner. "We would have sought a court order to move forward," Donnellon said.
Apparently, "foster-based only" Michigan Animal Crew rescue was hoping to rehome them all.
12/05/15: Barefoot in December Theory
The facts leading up to the mauling death of Rebecca Hardy remain sketchy, but several have been confirmed. There was an argument between Hardy and her fiancé. Then in December in Michigan, Hardy left the couple's home barefoot, according to new details from the WXYZ video. The video also shows the fence Hardy climbed over, where a pit bull and pit bull-husky mix3 were contained and barking at her. As soon as Hardy got over the fence, the pit bull attacked her.
The dog latched onto her neck and ripped out most of it. The pit bull also attacked her face. "A dog that is that vicious, it almost ate her head right off," her step-father said. "Ate her ears off, tore the esophagus right out of her throat, her jugular vein. To have a dog like that in a city like this?" he asked. Hardy's mother, Terresa-Jesse Engel, added, "It was murderous. It was criminal and evil." A neighbor who witnessed the attack had to beat the pit bull with a two-by-four to free Hardy.
Shortly before the grisly attack -- police arrived at 4:40 pm -- Hardy left her home barefoot after an argument with her fiancé. We estimate it was about 40 degrees outside.4 Media reports say she lived one or two blocks away from the scene of the attack. Her fiancé said they lived a "few doors down." Hardy did not know anyone who lived at the home. Despite the yard having a gate, Hardy climbed the fence in her bare feet then was fatally attacked by a male pit bull contained inside.
12/04/15: Port Huron Police Statement
Port Huron, MI - Yesterday, just a day after a 4-year old boy was savagely killed by four pit bulls in Detroit, a young woman was flown to a major medical center after a brutal attack involving a pit bull. Port Huron is about 55 miles northeast of Detroit. Family and friends began posting to Facebook late last night that she did not survive her injuries. Port Huron Police confirmed today that Rebecca Hardy, 22, died after suffering severe facial and neck injuries from a dog attack.
At about 4:40 pm Thursday, officers were dispatched to 1721 10th Street for an injured female that had been attacked by dogs. Responding officers found the woman in the backyard of a residence at that location with severe facial and neck injuries. The early investigation indicates that Hardy entered into the fenced-in backyard for an unknown reason. A pit bull in the backyard then viciously attacked her. A second dog believed to be a husky later joined in the deadly attack.
Hardy was transported to a local hospital by EMS then air lifted to Beaumont Hospital, where she died. Both dogs were taken into custody by the Port Huron Police Department's animal control officer and are being quarantined at the St. Clair County Animal Control Center. Port Huron police continue to investigate the victim's death and are working with two medical examiner's offices along with the St. Clair County Prosecutor's Office to determine if any charges are warranted.
An Argument with Fiancé
The Times Herald reached out to her fiancé, Matthew Grattan who made a public status update on his Facebook page last night, announcing Hardy's dog mauling death. Grattan told The Herald the couple had an 18-month old daughter together. "She was full of life, Grattan said. "She loved her daughter with everything." Grattan also said that he is not sure how she ended up in the neighbor's backyard. "Nobody was there, nobody knows what happened and why," Grattan said.
Grattan explained that he and Hardy had an argument at his home a few doors down shortly before the attack. She then left the house, he said. Grattan then speculated that she went down the alleyway behind the 10th Street homes and attempted to cut across the neighbor's backyard to get to 10th Street. After hearing ambulance sirens down the street, Grattan walked over to the scene. Other nearby residents were also shaken by the arrival of multiple first responders.
Witness & Owner Intervened
According to the Port Huron Police Department's statement, a witness attempted to free Hardy while under attack by the pit bull. Not succeeding, the person then went into the home and had the dogs' owner come out to help. As this unfolded, the second dog, later described as a pit bull-husky mix5, also attacked the victim. The owner of the dogs was eventually able to free Hardy from both dogs and give aid to her. Police say the dogs' owner is cooperating fully in their investigation.
Video of Port Huron animal control officers seizing pit bull
Grattan sarcastically comments about his own "vicious" family pit bulls. We've included this to show his "attitude" about pit bulls. The pit bull that killed his fiancée belonged to a neighbor.
2, 3, 5In February 2016, it became clear from the Port Huron Police report that the second adult dog involved in the attack was a "white husky." We are leaving in the earlier media reports of the dog being a "pit bull-husky mix" because that is what was reported at that time. The "pit bull-husky mix" label originated with the dog's owner, according to Port Huron Police Capt. Jeff Baker. "The dog owner said the second dog was a pit bull-husky mix, Baker said." (Beth LaBlanc, "Dogs involved in fatal mauling euthanized," The Times Herald, December 7, 2015).
4According to Weather.com, the temperature high in Port Huron on December 3, 2015 was 44 degrees. By 4:30 pm, we estimate it had fallen by at least 4 degrees. Sunset was at 4:55 pm, 15 minutes after police arrived.
12/03/15: 2015 Dog Bite Fatality: 4-Year Old Boy Killed by Pit Bulls in Detroit
09/25/15: Detroit Man Suffers Catastrophic Injuries in Violent Pack Attack by Pit Bulls
Friday, January 29, 2016
Mother Flees State
UPDATE 01/29/16: In a very heartbreaking development, the mother of Talan, Jamie West, and her remaining five children will not attend Talan's visitation or funeral service. Talan West, the youngest of six children, was mauled to death by a neighbor's pit bull last Sunday. Jamie fled the state of North Carolina with her children to stop social services from taking them away from her. 5-years ago, her children were taken away for reasons unknown, but she won back custody.
"I can't bring back Talan, but I can hold onto my five." - Jamie WestIn an interview with WRAL News, Jamie said that social workers told her, "I could go to the service with my children. They would not walk in there to get them during the service, but pretty much after it was over and we left, we could discretely, I could hand them over," she said. All of her children are currently with her and are holding up as well as they can, she said. "I have prepared all of them, that if something happens and they have to leave, I will be back to get them," Jamie said.
People on social media have been cruel to the boy's family and are also harassing the GoFundMe page for the boy's burial costs. The person running the page is a close friend of Jamie, who at this stage has no way to run the page herself. It is very common for close friends and family members to manage these donation pages. The situation on the page began with a nasty comment left by a person with the Facebook name of "Fa Kyu" several days ago and it has only deteriorated since.
Several days before Jamie fled the state with her children, the boy's father Steven West posted to his Facebook page, "This dog didn't just bite him, he butchered him." He describes his son's injuries as being ripped 15 to 20 times. Including the neck injuries -- the pit bull latched onto his neck and broke it -- the dog tore into his face, ripped into his midsection and tore out his calf muscle completely. All of the injuries described are common fatal injuries inflicted by pit bulls.
01/26/16: Victims' Family Speaks Out
The mother of 7-year old Talan West spoke to the media Monday about the devastation she is suffering after Talan was mauled to death by two pit bulls. His 8-year old brother Jaylan West witnessed the attack and was also injured by the dogs. The two brothers were among four children chased and attacked by a group of dogs on Sunday. Talan died of his injuries; Jaylan suffered bites to his lower leg requiring stitches. Jaylan was treated and released from the hospital.
Talan and his three siblings were playing in a field behind their home, when three dogs began running after them. Jaylan said he jumped onto a car, but Talan could not get away. “One (dog) was on that leg, one (dog) was on that leg – the big one just all over his face biting him up,” Jaylan told WNCN. One of the dogs, a pit bull, attacked Talan. “It broke his neck but it took pretty much (took) the entire back of his neck off and that’s when he died,” said his mother Jamie West.1
While county authorities investigate, Talan's parents were told by social services they cannot have any unsupervised visits with their children.ABC 11 interviewed the boy's father, Steven West. According to Steven's account, only Talan and Jaylan were involved -- the other two siblings were not. Steven witnessed an unnamed woman attempting to give CPR to Talan. "I saw the lady trying to do all she could on my son to keep him alive and my heart goes out to her," Steven said. He also said the tool Jaylan grabbed to fight the dogs off was a pair of pruning shears, not a machete or hatchet as reported in other stories.
Dog Ownership Information
WRAL.com reports that the dogs belong to Afreda Locklear. Her brother, Spencer Oxendine, said that one of the dogs recently had a litter of puppies. The Fayetteville Observer reports that the property where the attack occurred is owned by Alfredia O. and Jack D. Locklear, according to Robeson County tax records. Finally, the attacking pit bull died on scene, but had no visible injuries, The Robesonian reports. A veterinarian is examining the dog, the sheriff's office said.
WBTW Update Adds Details
On Tuesday, WBTW updated their earlier article. It now includes information from Sheriff Kenneth Sealey. There were three dogs involved in the fatal attack. They were taken by animal control and have been euthanized. Sealey described the other dogs as mixed-breeds. Puppies parented by the pit bull and one of the mixed-breeds were taken to an unnamed rescue in Robeson County. We hope the rescue is forced by law to tell any adopters that the parent dogs killed a child.
Melissa Locklear, a cousin of Talan, is also interviewed in the piece. It is unclear if Locklear is related to the owner of the dogs. Locklear believes the owners should be held responsible. "They should be held responsible because, like I said, pit bulls already have a bad reputation," she said. "Everyone knows they’re naturally aggressive," Locklear explained. If you're going to have pit bulls, she said, one must be extra vigilant in understanding its temperament and keeping it secure.
01/24/16: Pit Bull Kills Child Injures Another
Lumberton, NC - Two children, ages 7 and 8, were attacked by a pit bull at a home on the 2400 block of Odum Road in Lumberton Sunday morning, according to the Robeson County Sheriff's Office. Authorities identified the 7-year old as Talan Nathan West. Deputies and EMS responded to a 911 call that was placed about 11:30 am. Talan was found unresponsive with severe injuries. Both children where transported to Southeastern Regional Medical Center, where Talan died.
Talan suffered "severe puncture wounds" in unspecified areas and 8-year old Jaylan Ray West suffered bites in the lower part of the body, states the release. Jaylan has been treated and released, according to the sheriff's office. Both children lived on the 2600 block of Odum Road. “At this time the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Division and the Juvenile Division are doing an investigation on the child’s death to determine the cause," states the news release.
Third Fatal Pit Bull Attack Since 2012
The death of Talan marks the third fatal pit bull attack in Robeson County since 2012. In October 2012, Mary Jo Hunt, 53-years old, was struck down by her seven rescue pit bulls in Pembroke. At the time of the attack, Hunt worked for Robeson County Claws and Paws Rescue. In November 2014, Alemeaner Dial, 83-years old, was mutilated and killed by her granddaughter's four pit bulls in Rowland. The granddaughter and her pit bulls had moved in with Dial about 5-months earlier.
08/06/15: 2015 Dog Bite Fatality: Adopted Out Pit Bull Kills 6-Year Old Boy in Henderson...
11/03/14: 2014 Dog Bite Fatality: Woman Dies After Violent Pit Bull Attack in Robeson County
10/04/12: 2012 Dog Bite Fatality: Pembroke 'Dog Rescuer' Killed by Rescued Pit Bulls
Cause of Death Released
UPDATE 01/29/16: The Butte County Coroner's Office released the official cause of death of Maria Torres, 57. Sheriff's deputies found Torres dead inside her home on Dewsnup Avenue covered in bite marks on December 16. Two pet pit bulls were also inside her home. Miranda Bowersox, Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer, said that Torres died due to blood loss from the injuries she sustained due to a fatal dog attack. Both dogs were put down after the attack.
12/17/15: Killed by Family Pit Bulls
Gridley, CA - The Butte County Sheriff's Office said a Gridley woman is dead from injuries she sustained while trying to break up a fight between her two pit bulls. Gridley is about 60 miles north of Sacramento. When the victim did not show up for work Wednesday, deputies were asked to conduct a welfare check at her home on Dewsnup Avenue. Deputies arrived about 3:30 pm and found the woman inside covered in bite marks and two large pit bulls loose in the home.
According to a news release sent out Wednesday, investigators "determined that the dogs had been fighting, and the woman had tried to break them up. The woman sustained grave injuries as a result of her intervention and died as a result," the Butte County Sheriff's Office said. Animal control was called to the scene to contain the dogs. Relatives confirmed the two pit bulls were the victim's pets. The woman's name was not released pending notification of family members.
The Butte County Sheriff's Office issued a statement today clarifying why they believe the victim was trying to break up a dog fight. The theory was "based on the fact that the dogs had injuries consistent with being involved in a fight with one another," states the release. Detectives are also evaluating if the victim died of natural causes and the dog bite injuries were inflicted post-mortem. The autopsy, which is scheduled for today, will determine the cause of death, states the release.
In an evening Fox 40 news report, the victim was identified as 57-year old Maria Torres. Butte County deputies discovered her body with injuries consistent with a dog attack. "The pit bulls had injuries themselves, indicating they had been in a confrontation, in a fight with one another," sheriff's spokesperson Miranda Bowersox said. The two male pit bulls were ages 3 and 5-years old; neither dog was neutered. Both pit bulls were euthanized at the request of Torres' daughter.
09/10/15: 2015 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bulls Kill Man, Injure Woman in North Shore, California
03/25/15: 2013 Dog Bite Fatality: Stockton Woman Mauled to Death by Pit Bull
11/04/14: 2014 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bulls Kill Modesto Man, Critically Injure Another
11/03/14: 2013 Dog Bite Fatality: Antelope Valley Woman Mauled to Death by Pit Bulls
Sunday, January 24, 2016
Court Documents Filed
UPDATE 01/24/16: Court documents filed in connection to the death of Tyler Trammell-Huston, 9, show that the chips are stacking up against his sister, Alexandria Griffin-Heady. Tyler was brutally attacked and killed by Griffin-Heady's three pit bulls after she left him alone with the dogs for several hours in a small trailer on January 3. The documents state that her pit bulls previously attacked a child and that Tyler was not allowed to play with the dogs without supervision.
Griffin-Heady may face a charge of felony child endangerment. The district attorney's office will make a filing decision in the coming weeks.A deputy's affidavit states: "Heady told me her dogs have attacked one other person before and that was her 4-year old niece." When the girl went outside, the dogs knocked her down and scratched her face, reports the Appeal-Democrat. Griffin-Heady's attorney Roberto Marquez was quick to dispute the statement, calling it a "miss-characterization" of the incident. The dogs were "licking her" when she was knocked down and accidentally scratched by the dogs, Marquez said.
The affidavit also reveals that both 18-month old offspring dogs, a male and female, were kept together in a metal crate "because they were very destructive of the trailer if she left them alone," states the Democrat. The two pit bulls had been able to escape from the metal crate previously by just "pawing at the door" and breaking the top off the crate, states the document. Griffin-Heady recently used a padlock and cable ties to better secure the crate, according to the affidavit.2
Griffin-Heady then blames Tyler for not knowing how to interact with her dogs. In the affidavit, she told the deputy that he "tried to wrestle with Noah to the point that Noah became irritated, growled and pulled away from him," states the Democrat. She also told the deputy, "she has seen him kicking at them and hitting them with a shoe lace," the affidavit states. She even told Tyler that "he was not allowed to interact with them without her direct supervision," according to the affidavit.
Leaving out the disputed incident, Griffin-Heady left Tyler alone with her three pit bulls in a small trailer for three hours. Two of them were allegedly secured inside a metal crate that both dogs had escaped from before. They broke free again and killed Tyler. She then states that Tyler had acted inappropriately with her dogs and was told he could not interact with them without her supervision. Knowing this, Griffin-Heady still left her brother alone with her pit bulls under these conditions.
On Friday, Griffin-Heady got busy on Facebook defending the breed too (see whole thread).
01/19/16: Felony Charges Recommended
The Yuba County Sheriff's Office issued a statement Tuesday evening recommending criminal charges be filled against Alexandria Griffin-Heady, 24, in connection to the death of her 9-year old half-brother. On January 3, Tyler Trammell-Huston was mauled to death by her three pit bulls after she left him alone with the dogs in a dilapidated trailer for three hours. The sheriff's office is recommending that the district attorney charge Griffin-Heady with felony child endangerment.
In the statement Yuba County Undersheriff Jerry Read said that his office forwarded the results of their investigation to District Attorney Patrick McGrath and is “requesting that a complaint be filed against Griffin-Heady charging her with felony child endangerment.” Griffin-Heady has not been charged or arrested yet. The recommendation indicates there is evidence that Griffin-Heady knew her dogs were dangerous; the dogs had shown aggression toward animals or humans in the past.
In a tearful press conference just days after his death, Griffin-Heady apparently said she had never known her dogs to be aggressive toward "humans." However, this direct quotation is not in the edited version of the video. In California, a felony child endangerment conviction can lead to a sentence of up to six years in state prison. It is now up to the district attorney's office to the review the investigation by the sheriff's department and determine whether to pursue the felony charge.
The Appeal Democrat provided more details in a report updated later in the evening. The Yuba County sheriff's detectives report was more than 60 pages in length and included more than a dozen witness statements. Deputy District Attorney Michael Byrne told the Democrat, "Cases like that get reviewed by more than one attorney in the office before we go forward." He added that this can take time. "There won't be any decisions made until the next week or so," Byrne said.
01/13/16: All Three Pit Bulls Euthanized
On Wednesday, the three pit bulls that savagely attacked and killed a 9-year old boy were euthanized, according to Jerry Read, the Undersheriff for the Yuba County Sheriff’s Department. The pit bulls fatally attacked Tyler Trammell-Huston in a dilapidated trailer after his sister, 24-year old Alexandria Griffin-Heady, left him alone with the animals for three hours. Tyler was in the foster care system at the time of his death and was on an approved overnight visit with Griffin-Heady.
On the day Tyler was laid to rest, his father, John Huston, filed a claim for damages against Sacramento County Child Protective Services. Huston suffers from a mental incapacity that limited his ability to raise Tyler, according to a news release written by Huston's attorney, Moseley Collins. "As a result, CPS took Tyler from his father," states the release. In an ABC 10 video, Moseley also states, "How is that protecting a child to let him go stay in a trailer with 3 pit bulls, alone? It's not."
Griffin-Heady has maintained since the attack that not all of the dogs were involved and that she is deeply saddened to see two of the dogs also put down. She maintains that the mother pit bull, Coca, and her female offspring, Athena, were insignificantly involved or uninvolved in the fatal pack attack. She believes the male offspring, Noah, was the primary attacker, even though both he and Athena were allegedly kenneled when she left that morning. Somehow they both got out.
Both offspring are 1.5 years old, the age when pit bulls reach sexual maturity and when the breed's aggressive behavior often first appears.The Yuba County Sheriff’s Office hopes to have their investigation and report completed by the end of the week to forward to the district attorney's office. Whether any criminal charges will be filed is unknown. Griffin-Heady could face child endangerment charges for leaving Tyler alone with her three pit bulls. Tyler's preventable mauling death by his sister's three pit bulls raises many legal and moral questions about who is responsible, if anyone, or are multiple parties to blame.
01/07/16: Father Pursues Lawsuit Against CPS
In a recent article, the Sacramento Bee interviews Tyler's former foster parent, several family members and legal experts. At the time of the fatal pit bull attack, Tyler lived with his foster parent, Gloria Hudson, in Elk Grove. Hudson had concerns about his sister gaining custody of him, but Tyler was so excited at the idea -- and had already been through so much with the loss of his mother in 2011 and bouncing between foster parents -- that Hudson was at peace with it.
Hudson said a judge was going to determine later in January whether Tyler could move in full time with his 24-year old sister, Alexandria Griffin-Heady, and her pit bulls, provided she moved to an apartment. During his school's recent winter break, Tyler spent several weeks with his sister and her dogs in the small trailer parked adjacent to where two of his siblings lived. Hudson was expecting Tyler to return home on Sunday when she got a call from CPS saying he was dead.
"When Child Protection Services called me, I just screamed." - Gloria HudsonOn Sunday morning, during an overnight weekend visit with his sister, Tyler was attacked and killed by her pit bulls after she left him alone with the dogs for three hours. Tyler's aunt, Laura Badeker, holds CPS largely responsible. Badeker had warned CPS that Alexandria was unstable. Tyler's father, John Huston, is pursuing a lawsuit against CPS. Huston is mentally disabled and unable to care for his son, but he visited Tyler regularly, his attorney Moseley Collins said.
Possible Criminal Charges
In a slew of media reports Wednesday night, Alexandria tried her case in front of the media. Gushing regret during a press conference, she said: "There are a thousand things I could have done differently." Alexandria could and should face child endangerment charges after her three pit bulls brutally killed her 9-year old half-brother. At the very least, she needs several years of parole and a strict prohibition from owning any pit bulls and overseeing any child during this period.
As usual in cases like this, in order for Yuba County authorities to bring criminal charges against Alexandria they will likely need evidence that she knew or should have known of the dogs' vicious propensities. Had any of her pit bulls attacked or shown aggression in the past? This may be very difficult to prove since Alexandria lived in multiple places in the country, including in a motel room in Florida with her three pit bulls, prior to moving to Northern California a few months ago.
"[The pit bulls] were my companion animals. They were my babies. What made them do that I will never know." - Pit bull owner, Alexandria Griffin-HeadyThe worst offender is Child Protection Services, who failed miserably in their duty to protect Tyler. In some parts of the U.S. child protection agencies will not allow a parent or guardian with pit bulls to care for the child. They will force the relocation of the dogs. This should be the norm, not the exception across all CPS agencies. In this case, and with Alexandria's extremely troubled past, they allowed the boy to live with her in the travel-trailer with quite literally a pack of pit bulls.
01/04/16: Under the Care of His Sister
The 9-year old boy has been identified as Tyler Trammell-Huston. At the time of the deadly attack, he was staying with his older sister who was trying to "rescue" him from the foster system, reports the Sacramento Bee. Instead of "rescuing" him, her three pit bulls savagely killed him after she left Tyler alone with the animals during a weekend visit. His sister, Alexandria Griffin-Heady, 24, discovered his badly injured body when she returned home after being away for several hours.
According to Tyler's aunt, Laura Badeker, Tyler was in protective custody and living at a foster home under the care of Sacramento County Child Protective Services at the time of his death, reports the SacBee. Badeker said that she repeatedly told the county agency she thought Tyler was unsafe with Alexandria, who lives in a travel-trailer and was granted unsupervised overnight visits with her brother after she moved to Northern California from Florida several months ago.
Badeker believes Alexandria was "trying to do the right thing" by aiming for custody of Tyler, but that her living situation was too unstable. Badeker also did not believe Tyler was safe with her three pit bulls. Life for Tyler and his four siblings was "marked by crime, drug abuse and homelessness," reports the SacBee. Their mother, Natalie Griffin-Trammell, died on the streets of Sacramento in 2011, after years of battling homelessness and drug addictions, Badeker said.
Two of Tyler's siblings live with their adoptive parents in a home on a property adjacent to where Alexandria was living in the travel-trailer, Badeker said. Before moving to California, Alexandria had been living in a motel room in Florida with her pit bulls. Badeker said she had a love for pit bulls, believing they are unfairly "stigmatized and maligned." Alexandria's Facebook page is filled with images of her pit bulls, as is her YouTube page, where she refers to them as her "wolfpack."
When Pit Bull Advocacy Kills
On October 7, 2014, she shared a video popular with pit bull advocates on her Facebook page depicting a pit bull crawling into a baby's bed and stated: "Too all pit haters, or people who dislike the bread due to being violent., here is a fun fact. Anybody know what they were originally bread for? Anybody? The nanny... to look over and protect the babies. #Lovemypit" Obviously, that is untrue. Pit bulls were selectively bred for explosive aggression and to execute the killing bite.
Tyler is dead because like many young people, Alexandria believes the false myths about pit bulls, primarily pushed by the Pit Bull Propoganda Machine, that deny the breed's purpose bred heritage of bull-baiting and dogfighting. Who cares if Alexandria now finally recognizes the truth? Tyler is already dead. CPS is part of this boy's preventable death too. They allowed Tyler to be with his sister and her three pit bulls for the weekend in a small travel-trailer without a working bathroom.
As we were writing this update, Alexandria began privatizing (hiding) her Facebook photos.
01/04/16: Family Pit Bulls Kill
Linda, CA - A 9-year old boy was killed by three pit bulls at his home in Linda Sunday, the Yuba County Sheriff’s Department said. The boy had been left alone with the family pit bulls. Sheriff's deputies responded to a report of the attack about 10:00 am. The child's guardian, they learned, left him in the home on the 6200 block of Dunning Avenue with the dogs while she went to work. When she returned three hours later, she found him attacked, suffering life-threatening injuries.
The boy was pronounced dead at Rideout Memorial Hospital just after arrival, according to Undersheriff Jerry Read. No arrests have been made at this time. Child endangerment charges may be forthcoming against the boy's guardian, whose name was not provided, pending further investigation. All three dogs were seized from the home, a 4-year old female pit bull and her two 1.5-year old offspring. None of the dogs had a history with Animal Care Services, Read said.
Nearby Fatal Pit Bull Attack
On December 16, 2015, 57-year old Maria Torres was mauled to death by two family pit bulls just 30-miles away in Gridley, which lies in Butte County and is adjacent to Yuba County. Both counties are north of Sacramento. At the time of Torres' deadly attack, investigators believed she was trying to break up a fight between the two pit bulls. The Butte County Sheriff's Office later issued a press release stating, "the dogs had injuries consistent with being involved in a fight with one another."
1We do not know how large the metal cage was or its features, but this metal cage was seen in one of Griffin-Heady's many YouTube videos when the dogs were younger. If one closely reads the Appeal-Democrat article that reports on the affidavit court filing, this metal cage matches its description. The only difference being there where two nearly adult-sized pit bulls inside before they broke out and savagely killed Tyler.
12/17/15: 2015 Dog Bite Fatality: Gridley Woman Mauled To Death by Her Two Pet Pit Bulls
09/10/15: 2015 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bulls Kill Man, Injure Woman in North Shore, California
03/25/15: 2013 Dog Bite Fatality: Stockton Woman Mauled to Death by Pit Bull
11/04/14: 2014 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bulls Kill Modesto Man, Critically Injure Another
10/03/14: 2013 Dog Bite Fatality: Antelope Valley Woman Mauled to Death by Pit Bulls
Thursday, January 14, 2016
Most Powerful Images Came from Social Media
Photographs of six fatally attacking dogs in 2015.
DogsBite.org - In 2014, we began the tradition of publishing breed identification photographs of fatally attacking dogs when available through news reports, law enforcement or social media websites. Of the 35 total recorded deaths last year, 16 fatalities, 46%, had breed identification photographs, down from 57% last year.1 Predictably, the majority of the images depict pit bulls, pit bull-mixes and their close relatives, along with the second top killing dog breed, rottweilers.
Of all dog bite fatalities with identification photographs, 44% (7) were captured by news media, 38% (6) were supplied by animal control or sheriff's departments and 44% (7) were located on social media pages of the dog's owner or family members. Four attacks also had images in two categories. The most powerful images came from social media and included a mother calling her pit bull a "Big Baby," a victim and her pit bull and a pit bull dubbed "The beast" doing bite work.
Photographs Are Supplemental
The identification photographs are a supplement to the extreme number of multi-sourced news reports that we collect for each fatal dog attack victim and are listed on our Dog Bite Fatality Citations pages. Though we are still collecting news reports for 2015 -- there will be criminal trials, autopsy report information and more -- so far we have collected over 615 citations for 35 victims. We invite you to glance over the 2015 Dog Bite Fatality Citations page to review its length.
News reports pertaining to fatal dog attacks -- with or without identification photographs -- are nearly always multi-sourced. This means that multiple parties have identified the dog's breed including, but not limited to: animal control officers, police officers or sheriff's deputies, other public safety officials, the dog's owner or family members, witnesses and even veterinarians. The images are often greatly helpful, but are also just one component of the overall information available.
Growing Impact of Social Media
Though images obtained from social media in 2015 did not increase from last year, several of them carried significant impact on social media. The image of 25-year old Nicole Cartee sitting with her family pit bull of 10-years, which later killed her, captured the public's attention. This past week, after 9-year old Tyler Trammell-Huston was killed by his older sister's three pet pit bulls, the Facebook images of his sister snuggling with her pit bulls went viral on Facebook as well.
The viral images usually share the element of a family pit bull that unpredictably turns violent, attacking and killing a family member.2In 2015, three cases would have had the wrong breed identification or no breed attribution had it not been for social media and our investigative research: the deaths of Malaki Mildward, Lamarkus Hicks and Barbara McCormick. In two of these cases, both children, we were also able to track the lineage of the fatally attacking dogs to their sire and dam. We first accomplished this in 2014, after the death of Mia DeRouen, using the dog owner's Instagram account and a pedigree website.
More photos of varying sizes are often available at the indicated full blog post link for each victim.
2015 Fatal Dog Attack Breed Identification Photographs
2After a pet pit bull of 8-years killed its owner on Christmas Day in 2014 in Portage, Indiana, the image of 40-year old Edward Cahill posing with his pit bull also went viral on social media. Cahill's mauling death by his family pit bull was "so clear cut," the coroner declined to do an autopsy. "There’s no reason for me to spend $2,500 of the taxpayers’ money on something so obvious," Porter County Coroner Chuck Harris told reporters.
08/31/15: Who Can Identify a Pit Bull? A Dog Owner of 'Ordinary Intelligence'...
01/07/15: 2014 Fatal Dog Attack Breed Identification Photographs - DogsBite.org
01/03/14: 2013 Fatal Dog Attack Breed Identification Photographs - DogsBite.org