Stephen Pemberton, 61, was killed by his stepson's two pit bulls near Belleville, Illinois.
Man Killed by Pit Bulls
Belleville, IL - A 61-year old man is dead after being attacked by his stepson's two pit bulls. Stephen F. Pemberton Sr. was killed Wednesday afternoon after the two pit bulls got out of the laundry room where they were being kept and attacked him, according to the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department. It is unknown if the dogs escaped the room or if the victim opened the door. The two pit bulls belonged to his stepson, 45-year old Kelly Knaup, who was away at the time.
At 1:40 pm, sheriff's deputies were dispatched to 309 Campus Drive, part of an unincorporated area near Belleville. They arrived to find Knaup, who told deputies his stepfather was dead inside the home after his dogs had attacked him. Knaup’s wife and a health care worker1 were also in the home during the attack, but in a separate room. They called Knaup and told him to return home; they could hear the attack happening, but could not leave the room they were in, police said.
"The investigation is continuing, but no one is in custody at this time, and charges are not expected to be filed," Capt. Bruce Fleshren said in a statement. “While precautions were taken to keep these dogs away from others in the home, obviously that did not work, and there was a very high price paid to keep these dogs." St. Clair County Animal Control took both adults dogs, a male and female, into custody. The dogs will be euthanized, reports the Belleview News-Democrat.
Illinois Fatal Dog Attacks
Pemberton's death marks the fifth fatal dog attack in Illinois this year. 80% of these attacks (4) involved pit bulls, 80% involved victims, ages 25 and older, and family dogs carried out 80% of these attacks. In the most recent death, Knaup knew his dogs were hazardous, which is why he typically kept them in the "laundry room" whenever he left the house. In every other "laundry room attack" we have seen, the pit bulls escaped and attacked; the victim never opened the door.
What is unclear is why Knaup did not have dog crates, which would have reliably secured the dogs and would not be dependent upon a person accidentally opening the laundry room door during his absence. The two below pit bulls are shown on Knaup's Facebook page in 2018 photographs, a third pit bull is seen in 2016 and "Mama Hawk" and her puppies are seen in a video from as recently as four months ago. Per usual, their bellies are fat and filled with worms.
07/06/20: 2020 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bull Kills Toddler During July 4th Party in Joliet, Illinois
06/05/20: 2020 Dog Bite Fatality: 70-Year Old Woman Killed by Dogs in Country Club Hills, Illinois
02/11/20: 2020 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bull Attacks Four Family Members, Killing One, in Plainfield
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.
So… although the dog owner knew the dogs were dangerous, he won’t be charged because he’d taken “precautions” to keep them away from people (victims)? When will dog owners have to take responsibility for having dogs that are known to be dangerous? They always “somehow get out,” don’t they?
If, say, this dog owner was instead the keeper of an exotic great cat or a venomous snake, and left either of those creatures in an area that can either easily accidentally be accessed or which can allow the animal to escape, would that individual not be charged with a crime? Seems like they would. Because of course, everyone admits that great cats and venomous reptiles are deadly. A person is much more likely to be killed by a pit bull than by either of these, but great cats and venomous snakes usually require permits and the person keeping them is totally considered responsible when they escape and kill.
Instead, a man is dead and it’s just a “tragic accident” because the known deadly animals happened to be dogs. And more than that, they happen to be pit bulls. It’s like having a get out of jail free card.
There are some things to which a person should not be allowed to say, “Oops!” and get to walk free.
What a mixed up world.
I know I may sound petty but why is a 45 year old man still living with his mom and stepfather? He probably didn’t have crates cause he was broke. But STILL he had to have TWO pit bulls.
If you can stomach reading his Facebook page you’ll get a pretty good idea of the “type” this fellow is. Lots of pit bull propaganda (including nanny dog videos, real classy), videos of puppies he’s brought into the world when we all know there is no shortage of pits, complaints about how his child support payments eat up his whole paycheck, etc. He did seem to stick faithfully with his wife who was in a severe accident, but other than that just your typical 45 year old living with momma because he can’t get his act together. But of course he had to bring his dogs along and burden his mother and stepdad with those! In 2018 he complained that due to insurance difficulties and having to move he’d have to give up his dogs. Guess he found a way not only to keep them but even to breed more! One wonders if he moved in with them BECAUSE he couldn’t find a place that would allow the dogs. Seems like many parents these days allow their adult children to move in with their deadly dogs, and they end up paying the price.
As a parent in 60’s age range with adult children, I totally get a parent allowing children to move back in with them due to financial hardship or relationship problems, but I DON’T GET allowing a dangerous dog to be part of the deal. I cannot fathom for one second allowing a dangerous dog to turn my home into a place of dread and fear. What kind of person would even think it was okay to subject anyone, let alone an elderly parent, to such a dangerous situation? How does one live with having caused his parent to die such a horrible, senseless death? Just the other day, in a doctor’s waiting room, a woman my age told me her daughter moved in with her with 4 big dogs that were “kind of mean.” It doesn’t take much leap of the imagination to infer that she was talking about pit bulls. I didn’t ask.
Elder abuse. I don’t know why parents feel obligated to let the maulers move in. They must feel tremendous pressure to pacify their children and comply. A man in Lusby, Maryland, let his adult daughter move in with multiple pit bulls. He was found dead, alone with the dogs, in his own home. It was tragic and preventable. Seems to be a very common scenario now.
Was it the stepsons wife or mom in the room with the healthcare worker? Why wouldn’t they call 911 first? I can’t imagine the sounds of the attack were calm. So terrible…
I wonder if this was a case of “You need to come home and hide your stash before anyone calls 911”?
Sadly it probably would not have made any difference if 911 had been called sooner. Still seems criminally negligent to call anything other than 911. Anyone know did the son call 911 immediately after getting the news or did he go to the house and call 911 from there?
Who is to blame for this recipe that results in disaster? This will continue to happen as long as our societies’ institutions value dangerous canines more than people. This will continue to happen as long as people value dangerous canines more than people. Someone decided to keep dangerous animals as pet animals in the house, and societies’ institutions said that that is ok to do. Net result: With extremely few exceptions, any and all human beings are at risk of the grave threat of sudden canine attack at all times.
At this point, I don’t even know what to say at the unfailing stupidity of pitbull owners that results in seniors and children being slaughtered at ever-increasing rates. The increasing rates of other dogs/animals being murdered and the hazards of walking a normal dog.
We HAVE BSL here and we’re getting more and more of them. Yesterday, I even saw one of those “pocket pits” –the little 30lb ones.
I also have serious concerns about the rate at which they are tainting in “mutt” pool. Hard to find a good-old-fashioned reliable mongrel any more without having to worry that there’s pitbull bred into it.
Now we have another dead person who won’t get to enjoy their senior years due to this reprehensible fellow who *even bred more of these monstrosities*. Also, the financial burden on this guy’s mom and his family over having a breadwinner taken out by these beasts in the middle of a pandemic is likely a financial disaster from which, none of them may recover.
Now either dogfighting is increasing, or deluded pit nutters are because *who* did he sell those puppies to? Puppies, as we now know, come from dangerous parents. Most will wind up in the local shelter as the option for people of limited financial means’ only choice for companion dogs. Dogs that will breed aggression into the population of mongrel dogs that might heretofore been adoptable.
Enough is enough.
BSL all around and *enforcement* of it. Any cop/animal control driving by and seeing a pitbull unfixed and/or without a muzzle should be hauling it in for euthanasia, post haste. They’ll be saving lives, later.
If pit nutters can’t obey the laws or even common sense, they don’t deserve dogs.
But what if that cop was subjected to the same smear campaign as the officer in Detroit? You know, the one who is being smeared right now because (gasp!) he shot a DOG in its own yard!
Well, look a little closer at that case and what do we see? We see that the now-dead dog was most likely a pit bull. And it was acting aggressively toward the officer, who, ISTR, was in pursuit of a suspect.
As long as so many people are so deeply into dog worship, I’d expect a lot of officers to just keep on driving by, BSL or not.
I watched that too…I am not a police fan and that cop had *every* right to shoot that pitbull. Nobody should fear for their, or their dogs’ lives, by *passing a fence* and *doing their job*.
The K9 sniffed the fence, the pitbull lunged over and *grabbed* the K9 by the face. Had the whole muzzle in its mouth. The officer could not pull her dog back without its face being shredded so she shot the pitbull in the head. She shouldn’t be expected to be wandering around with 30lbs of radio, camera, mace, taser, etc. and a freaking break stick on top of it. Yes, it is horrifying to watch. It would have been more horrifying if she’d let her K9s face be shredded off while she fumbled with mace, taser THEN shot the pitbull.
Just having a fence isn’t enough. Just having a leash isn’t enough. The dog must be UNDER CONTROL and it clearly, wasn’t. What if a toddler or a poodle stuck an arm or nose through the fence out of curiosity?
There’s a serious lack of common sense going on.
We see police shooting unarmed people on video every few days and we are enraged when they get away with it.
Yet somehow, pitbulls murder people on video every other day and because they’re pitbulls, they get a bucketful of excuses?
If stepfather, who appeared to need care, was left in a hot car and died, there would be murder charges. Exposure to heat in a car is widely known to cause death. Stepson‘s story that he just “forgot” about leaving stepdad in the car would be treated with suspicion & thoroughly investigated. Change heat as a cause of death to pitbulls and the authorities just shrug. “Tragic accident.” Who gets the house?
Again dogs that have fatally attacked someone have been bred and the puppies sold into the community! As usual, I doubt that anyone who bought a puppy will be informed about what the parents did.
Another case where pit owners know their dogs are aggressive and instead of EUTHANIZING THEM, they try to play the ‘just lock em in a room’ game. And now a 61 year old man is dead. What will it take for these people to just be responsible and put their known aggressive blood sport dogs down???
I’ve been following the “land-shark” dog breeds and the documented attacks on Americans and their companion animals for 2 years and I cannot fathom why progress is so slow. I’m an Australian and these breeds have been banned for as long as I can remember. Pit bull enthusiasts are bat shit crazy, because you can post them a link to a scientific paper on dog bites which basically concludes that Pit Bulls are more than 10 fold more likely to cause level 5 or 6 bite wounds than any other breed and the pit bull enthusiast will just say “Keep drinking the Kool-aid” or “Its how its raised”. “My pit bull would lick you to death”. Plenty of people that have been mauled have stated that their beloved dog had never shown any aggression. In my opinion, you have a big problem in America and one day an authority will wake up and prosecute multiple arms of the pro-pit bull machine, especially the re-homing shelters. Trafficking a killer pit bull across state lines and deleting their aggression history,. Thats insane. People need to go to prison.
How did the victim get himself in a situation in which he can’t do laundry in the middle of the day? Why did he let his stepson move in? What I am reading is that this old man allowed 4 beings to move in? Four. Four mouths to feed. At least two rooms of his small house are off limits to him. SMH. Older people keep making very poor choices. I really think there is some degree of cognitive impairment going on with these baby boomer parents who allow this to occur. It is the only explanation in 2020. At this point, it would be improbable for these boomers to say they didn’t know pits were dangerous.
They may think pits are dangerous or they may not. In any case they probably didn’t think these specific pits were dangerous until they were. But because they were known dogs they probably accepted locking them in a room as a solution. If you read about the cycle of domestic violence among people but think of the abuser as the dog owner or even the dog, you will see how these situations start and continue with everyone in the family invested in the dysfunctional life.
There’s even more to the situation. Victim brings all these beings into his home. He ends up dead and the stepson, Kelly, one would assume gets control of the house. He either gets this now or if the victim had a wife and she passes he gets it later. (from everything in the story, there’s no evidence of a living wife.)How do you charges not get filed? At least for manslaughter? The person who is responsible is the dog owner and he is also the person being in enriched by the killing. Did Kelly have business owners insurance for his pitbull breeding operation? If I am a business owner and somebody get seriously injured or killed at my business due to my negligence, I need to make sure I have malpractice and business owners insurance to cover that.
And was Kelly running a properly licensed and permitted business? Even if the business is home-based, it is required to have such things, especially in urban areas.
What about sales taxes? Was Kelly collecting them when the puppies were sold? Income taxes? I’m guessing that he had one heckuva profitable business. If so, income taxes are due.
Over 20 years ago, I had a boyfriend’s who’s sister was breeding pits. Two litters a year, every year. Nonstop breeding of her bitch.
Older people, especially older women, are big watchers of Animal Planet, which seems to think of promoting pits as some sort of reason for being. They disproportionately support the big pet welfare groups, like Best Friends and ASPCA, which are pit promoting machines.
And pits are increasingly being shown as cute companions on a lot of TV commercials.
Hmmm, sounds like a cover-up attempt.
The article states that the two pit bulls that killed this elderly man will be euthanized. I hope that is the case. The pit bull lovers are probably already organizing to “save” the dogs, and to heck with the fact that they killed a person. How many people have died in 2020 from pit bull attacks? With everything else going on, pit bull attacks don’t attract much attention……
From the reporter: “Police are still trying to figure out what exactly set that dog off.”
Police (and the rest of the LEO and legal world) are still operating under the old rule of “dogs need an external trigger to attack and kill a human being.”
NORMAL dogs do.
Pits do not. Their trigger is internal. Study the case files. Pits don’t need a reason. “Because pit” is reason enough.
This is in Ledy Van Kavage’s back yard. She lives in Collinsville. Belleville and Collinsville practically touch. I wonder if her bloody fingerprints are on this mess somewhere. I mean other than her being allowed to write the law in IL that prohibits cities from passing BSL.
I have never visited this site before tonight. I stumbled across this page because I was specifically looking for information on this attack. Some of the comments on here are disheartening. Do people always assume the worst about every person and every situation? To answer some of the ridiculous speculation, no Kelly did not orchestrate this scenario so he could inherit his step-father’s house. No, the dogs were not in cages because at least one of his dogs, the male named Black, could easily get out of any cage he was put in. As for the “let me get home and hide my stash” comment, it’s Illinois, the only thing he might have possibly had was marijuana, which is legal to possess in Illinois.
In case no one has figured out by now, yes, I know Kelly. He works hard to pay for what he has and support his wife who was seriously injured in a car accident a few years ago. She needs medical assistance to help care for her. As for his dogs, I do agree that they could have been raised better. The one dog that someone posted a picture of and was referred to as “Mama Hawk” was one of the sweetest dogs I have ever met. He didn’t breed and sell puppies for profit like a puppy mill. Most if not all of the pregnancies were accidental, yet preventable.
Right before his wife was in the bad car accident they lost their place to live. My husband and I offered to let Kelly and his dogs come stay with us for a couple of weeks until they found a new place to live. Hawk was super sweet and loved everyone. Black was his owner’s protector. At the same time Hawk went into heat, and black being a male became more single minded and aggressive. One day when I was working from home, I was in my bedroom, my son and husband were in the dining room, the dogs were in the apartment, and Kelly was outside making a phone call. Black tried to get on Hawk and my husband yelled no. Black turned on him and started growling, snapping,, and jumping at my husband. I opened the bedroom door to see what was happening and saw my husband with his hands raised luring Black down the hallway. I ran out of the room and grabbed my son and ran back into the bedroom. Kelly ran inside and calmed the dog down. My husband told him to call whoever he needed to, but that dog was not allowed back in our house.
So yes, the dog was raised wrong. The other one, Hawk, was not. It’s not the breed that completely dictates how a dog behaves. Not all pitbulls are bad.
Thank you for your information. I’m sure this has been devastating for you and your family.
Here’s where the rubber hits the rails, for me.
Pitbulls are notorious for mauling and their infamy is justified. They maul and kill more people and other animals than all other breeds *combined* Does that mean there are still gentle pitbulls? Sure there are. There are gentle Malinois too, but you will *never* see responsible shelters/breeders/owners suggesting that Malinois are not, as a breed, given to high drive protection behaviour. Nobody would be so stupid as to suggest that a Malinois be living in a home with inexperienced dog handlers around children or seniors.
The fact these dogs went off at your house means the owner *knew* they were dangerous and volatile. At that point–it was time to euthanize the dogs or pay for some expensive serious training from someone who works with Shutzhund/Mondio/Police dogs and has the equipment to assess and deal with them and recommend if the dogs were manageable, or not. And I don’t mean some cookie waving loon, either.
Your friend might have raised these dogs perfectly well if they were *normal dogs* that were bred for companionship wherein an owner can make a few mistakes and the dog will adapt. Kelly was raising *pitbulls* and the only people qualified to handle pitbulls are sadly enough, fighting dog men who know their capabilities.
This, by all accounts, including yours, was a preventable tragedy and the point of this blog and most comments here–is preventing them in the future.
The breed highly dictates a dog’s behavior and temperament. It just does. I say that as someone who breed hunting dogs for almost two decades.
Mandy, you and your family are lucky that your husband kicked them out of your home. It could have been one of you we would be reading about and commenting about.
One for your records Colleen. You can delete after if you like…
Another disabled person murdered by Pitbull. This time in the UK. Police killed the dog on site.