The Baby's Mother was Charged with Three Counts of Neglect
Julian Connell, 26 days old, was killed by a family pit bull-mix in Lafayette, Indiana.
One Year in Prison
UPDATE 12/14/20: Jennifer Connell, 38, pleaded guilty in September to one count of neglect of a dependent in connection to the mauling death of her infant son on January 25 -- a level 5 felony. Prosecutors dismissed two other lower counts. On December 14, Tippecanoe County Superior 2 Judge Steve Meyer sentenced Connell to one year in prison and four years of probation. Arriving police officers were forced to shoot the dog to reach the infant, but the baby was already dead.
The Journal and Courier reports that it was Connell's teenage son, Jameson, who told police that his mother had planned to get rid of the dog because it had bruised and scratched infant Julian a week before the dog killed the baby, according to prosecutors. Prior to the fatal attack, Jameson broke up a fight between the pit bull-mix and a beagle-mix in the home. Jameson removed the smaller dog from the room. When he returned to the room, the pit bull-mix had attacked the baby.
07/01/20: Mother Charged in Infant's Death
On June 30, 2020, Tippecanoe County prosecutors charged the mother of an infant who was killed by a family dog on January 25. Jennifer Nicole Connell was arrested and charged with three counts of neglect of a dependent in connection to her infant's dog mauling death. Connell told police she was trying to rehome the pit bull-mix because the dog had recently become aggressive toward the infant, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by the Journal & Courier.
On January 25, arriving officers had to shoot the dog in order to reach the victim. Investigators also found the home littered with animal feces and dead mice in various states of decay, according to the affidavit. Prosecutors charged Connell with neglect of a dependent resulting in bodily injuries for keeping a known aggressive dog in the home with her infant. She was also charged with two counts of neglect for keeping her son and infant in an unsanitary and unsafe house.
The first charge appears to be a Level 1 felony under the Indiana penal code, "places the dependent in a situation that endangers the dependent's life or health" and "results in the death of a dependent who is less than fourteen (14) years of age." The arrest photograph of Connell is particularly chilling. Two weeks before the arrest, she announced on Facebook that she had lost India -- the beagle-mix that "Maisie" the pit bull-mix had attacked before killing the infant.
01/27/20: Family Dog Kills Infant
Lafayette, IN - A one-month old baby is dead after being mauled by a family pit bull-mix, Lafayette police said Monday. The attack occurred at 1901 Greenbush Street at about 11:30 am Saturday. Police were dispatched to the residence after the infant's teenage brother called 911 -- both the brother and the baby's mother were in the home when the attack occurred. The pit bull-mix had been "fighting" with a beagle-mix in the home prior to attacking and killing the infant, police said.
The teenage brother separated the fighting dogs, according to police, and that is when the pit bull attacked the baby (redirected aggression).
The dog fight occurred in the same room where police found baby Julian Connell and the pit bull, the Journal & Courier reports. Officers arrived to find the dog standing over the infant, police said. Officer Neil Cain shot and killed the animal in order to reach the baby boy and begin life-saving aid. Connell was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The family's surviving beagle-mix dog was taken to Purdue Veterinary Hospital for medical treatment.
The Tippecanoe County Coroner Donna Avolt said a preliminary autopsy showed the infant died from "multiple sharp force injuries" after sustaining dog bites to his head and neck. The manner of death was an accident. Lafayette Police are still investigating where the infant was lying when the dog fatally attacked him. WTHR reports the teenage brother took the injured beagle-mix out of the room after the dog fight. When he returned to the room, the pit bull-mix had attacked the baby.
"The two dogs were engaged in some sort of a fight in the bedroom where the infant was staying. The brother was actually able to separate the beagle away from the pit bull, take it out of the room and when he returned, he found that the pit bull had attacked the infant," Lafayette Police Lt. Matt Gard said. "The infant did suffer some catastrophic injuries." When Officer Cain arrived, in order to render aid to the infant, the officer had to fire his handgun one time, killing the dog, Guard said.
The Presence of Adults
Last July, we wrote about the Central Texas pediatric study, whose findings showed that parental presence was reported in 43.6% of all attacks and 72.5% were of major severity (Abraham et al., 2019). Multiple studies from Level 1 trauma centers examining severe dog bite injuries report similar findings, including that "Dog familiarity did not confer safety" (Garvey et al., 2015) and "Infants were more than 4 times as likely to be bitten by the family dog." (Golinko et al, 2017)
More recently, a West Virginia study stated, "Our study confirms the dangerous interactions between some dogs, principally pit bulls, and vulnerable persons, especially young children. The number and extent of injuries sustained by many patients, in particular among the owners or family members who had a pit bull in residence, should prompt serious consideration as to the implications of having a dangerous dog." The study called for stronger polices to protect children.
"Our study confirms the dangerous interactions between some dogs, principally pit bulls, and vulnerable persons, especially young children. The number and extent of injuries sustained by many patients, in particular among the owners or family members who had a pit bull in residence, should prompt serious consideration as to the implications of having a dangerous dog. Pediatric anticipatory guidance should include cautionary measures when it comes to safety in the home environment and potential dangers with some dog breeds." (Khan et al., Dog-Bite Injuries to the Craniofacial Region, J Oral Maxillofac Surg, [2019 Nov 14, Epub)
Recent pit bull fatalities involving active adult presence at the time of the attack include: the death of 13-month old Baby "Doug" Doe in California, whose babysitter was in "very close proximity" with the child when the family pit bull attacked, the death of 9-month old Liana Valino in Florida, whose grandmother was with the child when the dog attacked and the death of 1-year old Triniti Harrell in North Carolina, whose mother was with the baby when the family pit bull viciously attacked.
09/24/19: 2019 Dog Bite Fatality: 13-Month Old Boy Killed by Family Pit Bull in Granite Bay
06/24/19: Central Texas Pediatric Study: Pit Bulls Inflicted the Highest Prevalence and Severity...
06/07/18: 2018 Dog Bite Fatality: Infant Killed by Family Pit Bull While Under Grandmother's Care
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.