Bessie "Jill" Peterson, 88, died Tuesday after being mauled by a pack of dogs.
Owner Faces Two Felonies
UPDATE 09/10/19: On August 13, the Pickett County Grand Jury indicted Holland "Holly" Evans of Pall Mall in connection to the death of 88-year old Bessie Jill Peterson. On February 26, Jill was savagely attacked and killed by a pack of six dogs. Her sister, Nina Brown, 85, witnessed part of the attack. "They dragged her down the yard and all of her clothes were off, her shoes, everything. They tore all of her hair out, the casket can't be open, it's like a nightmare," Brown said back then.
The attack occurred in Jill's backyard. Evans, who owns the dogs and resided next door, now faces two felonies: 1.) Dogs running at large causing death, a Class D Felony and 2.) Criminally negligent homicide, a Class E Felony. Evans is currently being held at the Fentress County Jail, with a bond of $500,000. An arraignment hearing is scheduled for November 14. District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway had attempted to indict Evans in April, but that grand jury declined.
The Pickett County Press did not run this article online. Kim Brown is a niece of the victim. Evans has multiple aliases, including: Holland "Holly" Evans-Delk, Holland Hugh Evans and Holly Evans.
04/24/19: Report Clarifies Breeds Involved
The local newspaper, The Pickett County Press, recently clarified the breeds involved in the brutal mauling death of 88-year old Jill Peterson. Sheriff Dowdy stated that the veterinarian report determined that each of the six dogs is a mixed-breed. One of the dogs "could have had some type of shepherd mix," reports The Press, but none of the dogs had pit bull features. No photographs of the attacking dogs were released. The owner of the dogs remains unnamed.
"This is a very sad situation. Once we gather the facts, we'll determine if there's criminal liability or not." - District Attorney Bryant Dunaway
The vicious pack attack occurred on February 26 while Peterson was in her own backyard. Her sister Nina Brown witnessed part of the deadly mauling. "They drug her down there in the yard and all of her clothes was off. They just tore them, her shoes and everything. All of her hair is out. The casket can't be open," Brown said back in February. District Attorney Bryant Dunaway said his office would likely present this case before the Pickett County grand jury at the end of April.
Previous news reports stated that authorities had been contacted about these dogs in the past. Through a records request, The Press was able to review the Pickett County Sheriff call logs pertaining to any calls at Evans Lane about dogs. They found five calls regarding dogs that began on July 7, 2016 with the last being placed on May 8, 2018. The calls were made by different people for complaints of "unidentified" dogs barking and approaching people, reports The Press.
02/28/19: Sister Shares Attack Details
Bessie "Jill" Peterson's sister, Nina Brown, shared the horrific details of her sister's violent dog mauling death with News Channel 5. On Tuesday, Jill went out to the back of her home to clear a drainage ditch after recent heavy rains. A pack of six German shepherd-mixes came up behind her and viciously attacked her. "They dragged her down the yard and all of her clothes were off, her shoes, everything. They tore all of her hair out, the casket can’t be open," Brown said.
"Whatever she (the owner) gets, it won’t be enough," Brown said. "She knew the dogs were dangerous and did nothing about it." - Nina Brown
Brown, who is 85, witnessed part of the attack. She tried to intervene, but three of the dogs charged her. "They started after me and I had to call 911," Brown said. Peterson was airlifted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center where she later died. The dogs belong to a neighbor who lives behind her home. Over the years, prior incidents by these dogs had been reported to authorities. District Attorney Bryant Dunaway said the dog's owner could face homicide charges.
02/27/19: Pack of Dogs Kill Woman
Pall Mall, TN - An elderly woman is dead after being attacked by a pack of dogs, Pickett County Sheriff Dana Dowdy said today. The attack occurred Tuesday about 5:00 pm. Deputies responded to a 911 call at 161 Evans Lane. Bessie Jill Peterson, 88, was airlifted from the scene to Vanderbilt Medical Center where she later died. Police believe six dogs inflicted the mauling and are alleged to belong to a neighbor. The 13th Judicial District Attorney's Office is aiding in the investigation.
Pickett County is the least populated county in Tennessee with just over 5,000 estimated people. Peterson only had one residential neighbor, according to Pickett County property records. The two other nearby properties are classified as agricultural. Limited information is being released by the sheriff at this time. No description of the dogs has been made public. In early February, in another small town along the Tennessee and Kentucky border, a family pit bull fatally mauled a baby boy.
Past Tennessee Fatalities
The most recent news from Tennessee is a $2.5 million dollar verdict awarded to a family after two pit bulls killed William Parker in 2010. For seven years, his daughter and her mother fought a legal battle against the apartment complex where the pit bulls were kept. They sued management, Epstein Enterprises, and the property owner, Longview Heights Partners, saying they knew or should have known of the dogs' vicious propensities. The dogs had attacked people before.
Our records show there have been at least 11 fatal dog maulings in Tennessee since 2005. Nearly half of these deaths occurred over the 2-year period of 2005 to 2006. In February 2017, two English mastiffs killed a 5-year old boy in Clarksville, another northern Tennessee city. In November 2015, Anthony Riggs, 57-years old, was brutally killed by a rottweiler he had adopted just hours earlier from Jackson-Madison County Rabies Control -- the county animal shelter.
11/21/18: 2010 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bulls Kill Man, Injure Four Others in Memphis
02/17/17: 2017 Dog Bite Fatality: Family Mastiffs Kill 5-Year Old Boy in Clarksville, Tennessee
11/18/15: 2015 Dog Bite Fatality: Newly Adopted Rottweiler Kills Owner in Madison County
Law enforcement departments across the United States should release consistent "baseline" information to the media and the public after each fatal dog mauling, including these items.
It is crazy that living in a country as modern as the USA people have to worry about getting attacked by packs of dogs.
It isn’t just the United States. Packs of roaming dogs are a huge problem in Russia.
I find it hard to believe that anyone could truly take proper care of that many large breed dogs. I also think that having more than 2 or 3 dogs is asking for trouble. Dogs will naturally revert to a pack mentality in this situation, no matter the breed. Obviously the owner did not have control over the dogs. I’m willing to bet that they were habitual escape artists. I hope the family of this poor lady sues the pants off of this person.
I have a lot of German Shepherd dogs, as I breed them. There are rules. No dogs loose without direct supervision. No more than two dogs ever together. Socialization is a must. Training is important. No packs allowed.
Whether the dogs were purebred GSDs or mixes is unknown to me. However, this killing was 100% the fault of the owner. The owner should be criminally charged. Otherwise, he/she will get more dogs, neglect them, let them form packs, and let history repeat itself. The GSD is one of the easiest breeds to train, but no one should let dogs train themselves as happened here.
Rachel, you are obviously not the “average owner” that I should have made reference to. There is a difference between a professional who devotes their time to breeding, rearing, and homing animals responsibly and someone who is obviously delusional, uneducated, and irresponsible. We make a point to get our animals from a responsible, reputable breeder each time. All of our animals have turned out to be well-mannered and have lead long, healthy lives in combination with our responsible and respectful practices as owners.
Not everyone likes dogs. Particularly random loose dogs running onto their property or confronting them on a walk. I think a lot of dog owners fall under the disillusion that everyone loves and appreciates their fur baby. I have never assumed this. I will never and have never allowed my pets to defecate or urinate or tresspass in any way on anyone else’s property. When anyone other than family comes to visit (to include friends or playmates for our children) I have always locked my animals away in a bedroom with food, water, and a place to use the bathroom. I take these precautions out of a place of responsibility despite the fact that I own two declawed Siamese cats and a small french bulldog. One might call my husband and I overly cautious. I’d rather be overly cautious than inconsiderate and ignorant.
From what I’ve read, this pack consisted of one purebred German Shepherd Dog and her offspring which were the result of a mismating. What kind of dog was the sire? Essentially, this was a pack of mixed breed dogs; and there should never have been a pack at all.
I do find this to be an interesting phenomenon. When a pitbull is involved in an attack, the media almost always pegs it as a “mixed-breed” or “lab mix” even when the photos obviously show pitbull characteristics. But when there is a case of true mixed-breed dog(s) attacking, suddenly they’re purebred *fill-in-the-blank*.
Here’s yet another example from Tucson, Arizona. Note the description of the dog:
I’m no dog expert, but I’ve never heard of a “brindle shepherd”. Brindle pit or mastiff, sure.
Dutch Shepherds, used often for police work, look like a brindle German Shepherd dog, albeit a small weedy one.
These dogs have been put down. Since they were known to be a problem prior to killing this poor woman, why is it impossible to find even one picture of one of the dogs? There should be pictures of the dogs, if they are really German Shepherds or mixes. Pit bulls are being mixed with just about every other kind of medium to large dog…..
The dogs had NO pit bull in them! My Aunt Nina knows what pit bulls look like. She confirmed to me that they were GSD mixes. NO PIT BULL!
It’s tragic that in a developed country, in the 21st century, people get killed by packs of dogs. That sounds like something that should happen in 3rd world countries or in the 15th century.
Our ancestors fought and worked hard to make their families safe from wild beasts, and now look – their ungrateful decadent descendants got so out of touch with reality, that they willingly bring beasts into their homes as pets, and endanger their own families, as well as everybody around them.
Is it impossible to get pictures of these dogs? I just don’t understand why this is being kept a secret from the general public. This information should never be kept from the public, there is no reason to keep it hidden.
I can’t believe there had been numerous calls about these dogs beforehand, and NOBODY did anything to check up on the situation! This poor woman was in her OWN back yard! The dogs obviously got a “pack mentality”! Why is no one at fault for this??????????