Donald Abner, 55, died after being mauled by a pit bull in Rockcastle County, Kentucky.
Sentenced to Prison
UPDATE 11/09/22: In October, a woman charged in connection to the death of 55-year old Donald Abner pleaded guilty to murder. Melissa Wolke, who gave commands to her pit bull to attack Abner while she repeatedly punched him in the face, accepted a guilty plea in exchange for 20 years in prison. During an interview with police after the attack, Wolke said she was going "redneck" on the man and that she was the owner of the pit bull named "Denali" that was involved in the attack.
According to court testimony, a neighbor reported hearing sounds of a party that night. When he went to check on the sounds, he saw Wolke on top of Abner, assaulting him and saying "Good boy, get him," to the dog. The neighbor filmed the assault with his phone. He told police he later deleted the video evidence because "it made him sick to watch." Responding officers shot and killed the pit bull at the scene. In November, Wolke was formally sentenced to 20 years in jail.
01/22/20: Probable Cause Hearing
Testimony from the probable cause hearing revealed details about the cause of death, but parts are still pending. Melissa Wolke is charged with murder in connection to the death of Donald Abner, 55, in an attack that also involved Wolke's pit bull biting the man. Officers shot and killed the dog at the scene. The initial cause of death is asphyxiation. The coroner also determined that Abner had a broken bone in his neck, an injury that is not consistent with a vicious dog attack.
Kentucky State Police Detective Ryan Loudermilk testified that a neighbor reported hearing sounds of a party throughout the night. When the neighbor went to check on the sounds, he reportedly saw Wolke on top of Abner, assaulting him and saying, "Good boy, get him," to the dog, a pit bull named "Denali." At that point, the neighbor took a video of the attack with his cell phone. Later, he told investigators he deleted the video evidence because "it made him sick to watch."
When police searched Wolke's home, a singlewide mobile home, it appeared neat with no signs of disorder or a struggle. No drugs were found at the scene, just a mostly empty bottle of Jagermeister. Seven hours after Wolke was booked into jail, she was still too intoxicated to be interviewed. When Loudermilk was able to interview Wolke, she began crying, telling him repeatedly, "Oh my God, I went redneck on him." Wolke said she could not recall any fighting.
Wolke said she had been staying at the home for about three months, and that Abner was staying with her. She claimed Abner didn’t have a job or a car, and she wasn’t sure how long he planned to stay with Wolke, reports WYKT. The two had been good friends for 20 years. Wolke said she had a history of blacking out on alcohol. She claimed she warned Abner that she could black out. She also claimed "Denali" was a former fighting dog. How she acquired the dog is unknown.
01/12/20: More Details Released
The owner of the pit bull, 38-year old Melissa Wolke, was charged with murder in connection to the death of Donald Abner. On Friday morning, at about 3:40 am, deputies received a 911 call. When they arrived at the singlewide mobile home on US 25 near Pug Lane they encountered an aggressive pit bull. An arrest citation states that Wolke sicced her pit bull on Abner. It was the 911 caller who witnessed Wolke attacking Abner and giving her dog commands to attack the man.
"The way I look at it is that she used her animal, a pit bull, as a weapon to help her in this altercation." - Kentucky State Police Trooper Scottie Pennington
Arriving deputies also witnessed Wolke sitting on the man and punching him in the face, while the dog attacked him. According to the arrest citation, Wolke appeared to have blood on her hands and feet, and a large clump of hair in her hands that was consistent with the victim's hair, reports LEX 18. During an interview Friday, Wolke told Kentucky State Police that she was going "redneck" on the man and that she was the owner of the attacking pit bull, named "Denali."
There are conflicting reports about who lived at the home near Pug Lane. Wolke and her dog were "there at the time," reports LEX 18. On Saturday, the man's body was sent to the state medical examiner's office in Frankfort. Police said the man suffered dog bites to his face and head. Police are awaiting the cause of death from the autopsy report. "They’ll be able to tell if it was a gun shot, a dog bite, or heart attack," said Trooper Scottie Pennington of the Kentucky State Police.
01/10/20: Pit Bull Kills Man
Berea, KY - A man is dead after being attacked by a dog in northern Rockcastle County, near Pug Lane, according to authorities. Rockcastle County Coroner Marvin Owens was called to the home on U.S. 25 early Friday morning after a reported fatal dog mauling. Arriving state troopers found an aggressive pit bull near a truck at the home. They shot and killed the animal. News footage shows a veterinarian at the scene bagging the dead pit bull in a black, plastic garbage bag.
Kentucky State Police said the dog was not a stray and apparently belonged to a woman who was visiting the home. That woman, the owner of the dog, has been hospitalized due to the trauma of the experience, reports LEX 18. Neighbors told WKYT the people who lived at the home had only recently moved in. Jerry Merritt said he's heard gunfire at night in the past few weeks, apparently coming from the residents, "I don’t know what they’re shooting at or for the fun of it or what."
Friday Evening Updates
Late Friday, police charged Melissa Wolke, 38, for murder in connection to the death 55-year old Donald Abner. When state troopers arrived at the home on Pug Lane, Wolke was on top of Abner, punching him. She was also commanding her pit bull to attack him. Wolke had to be Tased to get her off the victim. She also refused to call off her dog. The pit bull had to be shot and killed as a result. An autopsy is scheduled for Saturday to determine the cause and manner of death.
A Google Search returns many arrest photographs of Wolke. In 2013, she ran a Twitter page too. Its unknown if the case is categorized as domestic violence. One of the most horrific Kentucky domestic violence cases involving a pit bull occurred in 2015, when Marilyn Stanley was partially scalped by a pit bull Zachary Allen Gross "directed" to attack her. Despite routine scalping injuries inflicted by pit bulls, investigators determined that Gross cut off her scalp with a sharp knife.
Kentucky Fatal Dog Attacks
In 2019, canines in Kentucky killed four people. All four victims were male. In February, 1-year old Ashton McGee was killed was killed by a family pit bull-mix in Guthrie. In May, 2-year old Isaiah Geiling was killed by a family pit bull in Louisville. In October, 3-year old Steven Thornton was also killed by dogs, rottweiler-mixes, in Louisville after he climbed through a bedroom window while the rest of his family slept. In June, 46-year old Brian Butler was killed by three pit bulls in Gilbertsville.
Kentucky is a moderate population state with an estimated 4.5 million residents. Despite dogs killing nine people in California in 2019, a state with an estimated population of 39.6 million, the rate of fatal dog attacks in Kentucky last year (per 100,000 population) was over four times higher than California. Traditionally, states with the highest populations -- California, Texas and Florida -- also have the highest number of fatal dog maulings each year, excluding the state of New York.
09/25/19: 2019 Dog Bite Fatality: Man Killed by Three Pit Bulls in Western Kentucky
01/26/19: 2018 Dog Bite Fatality: Winchester Mother Dies After Violent Pit Bull Mauling
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.
and i thought a new record was going to be set-for how far into january this country could get before its 1st dog caused fatality….guess not
Yes, but how many severe maulings in the past two weeks? Thousands?
i know right-if i had to guess i would guess in the 10’s of thousands for past 14 days
People are a source of danger. The person who arrived to visit the property was a source of danger. How? Because she arrived bringing her dangerous pet animal with her. She failed to positively, physically control her dangerous animal at all times. When she arrived, she willfully or negligently unleashed death upon another unsuspecting person who had no advance notice, no warning, just only solely sudden deadly attack followed by four minutes to lose consciousness from having his lifeblood drained from his brain by having the pet dangerous animal remove some of his arteries and veins from his body. What a way to leave this earth, four minutes of having chunks of flesh removed from arms, legs, neck, face, in pure terror until merciful loss of consciousness occurs. Sent to Heaven by the hostility of the surface of the earth brought personally, bodily to him by a person that did Not love her neighbor as herself. If she did love her neighbor as herself, she would not have terminally imperiled him with her dangerous pet animal. In the past two weeks, how many people only got mauled one-third of the way to death? How many will be in constant pain and disability for life? Because it is legal to select sometimes unpredictably dangerous animals as pets. Why? Because of popular demand. Why? because evil people exist, and they are desirous of selecting dangerous animals as pets.
Too many people don’t train their dogs, and they let their pets wreak havoc in other people’s lives.
Why was her dog free to kill him? Why was her dog still loose when the police got there?
I fully realize she likely couldn’t control her dog after it flipped its switch.
Maybe this was the dog’s first episode of aggression. Still, she could have left her dog at home, boarded it, crated it, etc. Negligence resulted in death.
Rachel, it does not matter if it was her dog’s first episode of aggression, this is the whole point of the pit bull: explosive, unpredictable, and tenacious aggression. Had her dog been any one of many other breeds, he would not be dead or even mauled. You also give understanding to her inability to not control the animal after it flipped. Again, another point about pits is that they are impossible to control, even by their owners.
I have no sympathy for this woman who owned the dog. I suspect as more information comes out we will find that her visit was a long, extended stay or that she was a live-in girlfriend.
The lack of common Sense and compassion shown by the owners of these attacking dogs is staggering. These victims deserve so much more… I am sure we will hear about how this attack was out of character for the dog, the dog may even be a victim of circumstance. So needless, and scary.
Another pit bull owner who probably thought their sweet wiggle butt wouldn’t hurt a fly. Now a man is dead and the owner is hospitalized for the trauma of witnessing her pibble maul a grown man until he was dead.
Another family left behind to mourn a loved one who never should have died.
Another wave of nutters screaming “blame the deed, not the breed”, “it’s all in how you raise them”, “my pittie is the best f**king dog ever” and all the other tired, worn out, sorry ass excuses they spew when a human being is killed by a pit bull.
Pit bulls are not compatible with civilized society. They are powerful, dangerous, unpredictable, unstoppable, killing machines – which is exactly what they were selectively bred for. They do their job exceptionally well. The number of people who can competently handle them are few and far between. They are not family pets. They are not service dogs. They are not “breed ambassadors”. They suck. And anyone who defends the breed ( or any killer dog, for that matter) in the wake of the death of a human should reevaluate their humanity, if they have any at all.
10 days into the new year and sweet, misunderstood, unfairly maligned pit bulls have a human death under their belt. Pardon me if I’m not shocked or surprised.
Condolences to the family of the victim.
Well said, KP.
Very well said
Late Friday night: wymt.com reports that Melissa Wolke, 38, of Mount Vernon is charged with murder in the death of 55 year old Donald Abner. She was taken to Rockcastle County detention center.
Lex18.com reports that she attacked the victim and had clumps of his hair in her hand, and that she sicced her dog on the victim.
And that she was on top of him punching him! How does that square with the previous story of her being hospitalized with trauma?
I honestly thought that maybe she had a scrap of compassion and was actually traumatized by seeing her dog kill a man. I should have known better.
Finally. A murder charge in a pit bull mauling case.
I had a feeling that her being in “shock” and requiring hospitalization for it was due to one of two things. My initial thought was that it was from seeing her dog shot by the cops. My second thought was that she was guilty of something other than just being the dog’s owner. I have a relative that murdered his girlfriend by firearm who was about to dump him and got away with it by “going into shock” and getting hospitalized for several weeks in a mental ward. Everyone in the family knew that it was murder but he got away with it. Of course, years later, he did it again.
What an ugly thing to witness.
I hope the 2019 death by dog toll is not repeated in 2020… but we all know there is gonna be at least 35+ poor victims by canine homicide, stay safe my US comrades…
Melissa Wolke … repeat offender?
And the first human casualtie of 2020 goes to……
I kind of like these outcomes.
This way, you get rid of the dangerous dog and their pitnutt owners all at the same time.
Everyone wins, lol
As far as relationships go, if someone had a pit bull I’d consider that a red flag to look elsewhere for sane companionship.
I have ended relationships over that very issue. Good for you, KaD. You’re keeping yourself safe.
I must that that her mugshots from 2017 through 1/2020 show a progression consistent with “Faces of Meth.” Did anyone find any manufacturing of meth or other drug charges on her?
I would like the thank those Kentucky state troopers for protecting the public safety.
Yes. Especially since in this case it wasn’t just a pit bull that was out of control, it was also the pit bull owner out of control (refusing to control her dog, threatening officers, reeking of alcohol, bloodshot eyes) and reportedly using her dog as a weapon.
The assault pibble. For when a firearm just won’t do.
Lovely dog for lovely people. /s
She doesn’t even care. Insane. Thank God she is in jail for the rest of her life, hopefully. I’m just shocked for the utter depravity of it all.
It’s may not possible to determine when a dog attack is pure selfish negligence or willful ignorance or actually intentional murder.
Had this woman stopped attacking his dead body and acted frightened when first observed, she could have claimed that this horrific death was merely a “fatal dog attack.”
I wonder when a child is killed if one parent wanted to end support payments?
Or when a homeless teenager is killed in a fenced yard in the dark, was that murder to cover up a sexual assault?
Want to get back at a neighbor? You’d get arrested if you key their car, but you can let your born-to-leave-home-to-kill fighting dog kill their dog inside it own fenced yard, and in most situations you get a measly citation.
At the very least, all owners and handlers of dogs that severely maim or kill humans, dogs, other domestic animals should be charged with felony animal neglect and abuse, and banned from any dog ownership or contact for life.
If you spend time on any of the game dog forums, losing dog privileges would be the ultimate punishment for those who receive vicarious pleasure from the violence and cruelty their game dogs provide.
“Fox 56 Lexington quoted the local coroner as saying Abner died as a result of the dog attack.”
This is a very scary point to ponder. You are likely correct that some of the attacks were murder but unfortunately, the police have such little interest in investigating these and the DA offices have even less interest in filing charges. I am going to think about this angle anytime one of the owners was present during the attack and especially anytime that maid witness goes into “shock” and has to be taken to the hospital. As far as I’m concerned, going into emotional shock is a cover.
Just look at that upstanding citizen.
All of these Pitbull owners starting to look alike……
She will get what she deserves! He is my cousin! RIP Donnie!