"Person of Interest" Identified, Police Not Releasing Suspect's Name
Amber Miller, 29 and Tony Ahrens, 52, were killed in the same manner 3.5 months apart.
Media Names Suspect
UPDATE 07/22/21: On Thursday, WBIR did the unthinkable. They looked into the owner of the property on Carnation Way where both fatal attacks occurred -- our nonprofit had done so on Monday. Charles Everett Owensby, who goes by "Charlie Dogman" on Facebook, has a history of assault arrests, according to Cocke County online court records. As recently as 2018, he was charged with "aggravated assault - domestic." That case remains "open," according to the site.
Notably, we already linked to Owensby once. He was named in an April 18 Citizen Tribune report after discovering the body of Tony Ahrens near his mailbox on April 1. WRIB examined a 2014 criminal charge that involved Owensby allegedly ordering one of his dogs to attack a man. At that time, police were serving a warrant at his home for possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, reckless endangerment with a weapon, aggravated assault and violating an order of protection.
The charges were the result of a 2014 "gas station brawl," in which Charles Olden told Newport Police that Owensby approached him with a gun, pointed it in his face and screamed "we're going to end this today." Olden then said Owensby struck him in the face with the hand gun, ordered his dog to attack Olden then tried to run over Olden. Most of those counts were dismissed, WRIB reports. Now, it appears that Owensby's dogs have killed two people 3.5 months apart.
Despite Owensby's criminal complaint history -- particularly how he ordered his dog to attack a person -- the Cocke County Sheriff's Office did not seize his dogs after the April 1 fatal attack or the July 12 fatal attack, both of which occurred near Owensby's home. Neighbors said earlier this week the dogs are no longer at Owensby's home. Who is surprised? The dogs are the central evidence and now that evidence has vanished. It's unclear if anyone witnessed either attack.
It is also critical to point out that the sheriff's office likely knew within 72 hours that the April 1 attack involved one or more canines. If the sheriff's office had initially suspected a "wild animal attack" they would have contacted the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. That agency would have quickly ruled out wildlife and tossed the case right back at the sheriff's office (as we have seen occur in other states). TWRA does not handle domesticated animal issues, only wildlife.1
"Person of Interest"
Finally, on July 26, the sheriff's office confirmed they had identified a "person of interest" in the investigation of two separate deadly animal attacks. According to Cocke County Sheriff Armando Fontes, a search warrant has been executed, but officials are not releasing the identity of the person of interest to, "preserve the integrity of the investigation" (which has already been highly compromised). Fonts said that no dogs have been confiscated by law enforcement at this point.
07/20/21: Dogs Never Captured
WVLT provided clarifications today after receiving a redacted report from the Cocke County Sheriff’s Office. Regarding the attack of Amber Miller, three large dogs (that a witness described as "big old bulldogs") were spotted near Miller '"licking the wounds" where she had been attacked. Witnesses transported Miller to a hospital, where medical staff described her injuries as severe. Her calf was "ripped off" and her arms were "barley attached to her body," the report said.
Most tellingly, the Cocke County Sheriff’s Office issued a warning for those traveling on Jimtown Road, saying to "use caution until the investigation concludes." Since the first attack on April 1, when 52-year old Tony Ahrens was found dead at the intersection of Jimtown Road and Carnation Way, authorities have not seized or captured the suspected dogs -- that is a 3.5 month period. WVLT also spoke to neighbors who said the dogs are no longer at the owner's residence.
07/19/21: Woman Killed by Pack of Dogs
Cocke County, TN - A 29-year old woman died after being viciously attacked by a pack of dogs near the intersection of Jimtown Road and Carnation Way. This is the second fatal animal attack in the same area in four months. On April 1, Tony Allen Ahrens, 52-years old, was also found dead in the area. His body appeared to have been partially devoured by an animal, reported the Citizen Tribune. Police have since been sitting on that case. Now a young woman is also dead.
A comment in the Cocke County Life Facebook group, sums up the horrific scenario. "I'm sorry but had appropriate action been taken with the first incident there wouldn't be have been a need for the public to take action and speak out about what is going on! Everyone has the freedom of speech … Maybe these posts will save another life because I see NOTHING from authorities that states the public is safe and these dogs have been removed from this man or put down!"
Another commenter stated that the dogs' owner is a trainer. "He is a trainer it's obviously he trained them dogs that particular way this is the second time a person lost they life yes he is guilty because he knew what he was doing when he trained them dogs [sic]." A sheriff’s office spokesperson declined to comment when asked if investigators believed the animals involved in the attacks belonged to anyone and if they planned to press charges, reports WATE-TV.
It took the family members of Amber Miller, who was attacked on July 12 and died six days later, speaking to the media in order for the public to learn more information about these two deaths. Miller had "so many wounds that they could not even count them," Miller's great aunt, Regina Jozefek said. Miller fought for her life at UT Medical Center and died on July 18. Meanwhile, the Cocke County Sheriff’s Office said that both fatal attacks were under "strong investigation."
This is a law enforcement failure of epic proportions. Two adults killed by loose dogs in off-property attacks, likely belonging to the same owner, and police move at a snails pace, and make statements like, "The investigation on both attacks is under a strong investigation and long hours are worked each day. The more we put out to the public could devastate the case. We will release as much as we can when feasible but we will not release anything that could jeopardize this case."
Multi-Victim Fatal Attacks
When a dog pack kills a person, and the dogs are not seized and adjudicated, the pack will kill another person. We have seen this at least two other times -- once in Mississippi and California. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is now assisting the Cocke County Sheriff’s Office in both investigations. That's useless, however, if law enforcement is protecting this dog owner. In 2014, a sheriff's office stonewalled the media after a former police K9 trainer's dog killed his step-child.
03/12/19: Criminal Trial Ends for Former Officer Whose 'Retired' Dual-Certified Police K-9 Killed
03/08/18: 2014 Dog Bite Fatality: Man Attacked by Pack of Pit Bulls Dies; Second Victim of Dogs
11/19/14 : 2014 Dog Bite Fatality: 7-Year Old Boy Killed by Trained Protection Dog in Wisconsin
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.
“This is a law enforcement failure of epic proportions.”
This calls for individual enforcement of personal safety. Local governments refuse to provide for removal of dangerous animals. We see dangerous canines lunging at their fences and we hear them growling at passer by. At any instant, they can be loose on the public street. Local law is flagrantly opposed to the safety of the innocent citizen on the street.
This was not ordinary dogs… DOGMAN is what did it…look into dark waters and a guy named vault of nightmares on YouTube..
A trainer didn’t “train them that way” in all likelihood no matter what some pit cultist or anybody else wants to claim. It’s more likely he overestimated his ability to “train out” genetic aggression. He was also highly negligent in not euthanizing the dog/s immediately after the first attack.
And the police negligence in this? This is beyond shocking.
If I’m not mistaken there were three ‘Mauled to death by pitbull’ stories, just today.
This is carnage on a massive scale. When you’re safer swimming in a shark tank or playing with massive cats and alligators in sanctuaries than hanging out with a dog–something is seriously amiss with that breed of dog.
Yes, I tried to follow a bit yesterday…there were buckets of attacks and deaths. It was crazyland.
You must have been worked to death.
Good job getting the news out in a timely fashion, Colleen!
Wow, that is really sad.
Now her mother is all alone.
After burring her husband and raising Amber alone she has to burry her before her 30th birthday.
Life can be really cruel.
Somehow family members who lost loved ones to drunk driving were able to get laws and enforcement changed.
Bodies just keep piling up from dog attacks and nothing changes.
Three in one day and this is still not being seen as the epidemic it is?
Seriously, the community needs to be out in force and armed about now.
And we didn’t know until now about Tony Allen Ahrens’s death in April. How many deaths by dog are we not hearing about?
Did you hear about this attack?…
This story was in an Australian news site just yesterday! It said up to 20 dogs were involved, what horrific way for a very young girl to ‘perish’ she seemed a bright young lady. Also I read that the maximum term of imprisonment for ANY crime on the Navajo Nation lands is 1 YEAR… that’s right 1 YEAR! This is why they can and do, bring outside law authorities ie. police/detectives or the FBI to investigate murders, serious assaults (physical and sexual) on the reservation, l hope l am wrong… I also hope some sort of justice can be brought forward for the death of young Lyssa Rose Upshaw, may she RIP 🌹
“WVLT also spoke to neighbors who said the dogs are no longer at the owner’s residence.”
It looks like the owner has hidden the evidence. No surprise there. What else can be expected of evil, wicked, criminally dangerous, anti-social dangerous dog owners? I am willing to bet that over 99% of the time that a dog returns home with blood on it, and the owner suspects that his dog injured a person, the owner immediately washes the blood off of his dog and hides his dog.
“…the Cocke County Sheriff’s Office issued a warning for those traveling on Jimtown Road, saying to “use caution until the investigation concludes.” ”
Anyone who is capable of a scintilla of intelligence will follow the Boy Scout motto, and will be prepared to use a lot more than mere mindfulness. Not just on Jimtown Road.
It is a shame the neighborhood didn’t do what needed to be done after (or before) the first attack.
The 3 S’s could have saved 2 lives.
I wont be a bit surprised if those same dogs are back at the same house (and running loose) in 2 weeks. Hope they don’t manage a threepeat but it would not surprise me at all.
3 articles of deaths in one day, this is madness. This case in particular is infuriating because this could have been prevented if the cops would have removed and euthanized the dogs and arrested the owner after the first attack! How many more people will be mauled before something gets done??? This is why these mutants need to be banned entirely.
Because the cocke county sheriff office are friends with the owner of the dogs that’s why nothing was done
In Australia, a warning system was created (by concerned citizens, I believe) that sends out an immediate warning via app that a shark attack has occurred and its location. This idea came about after a few shark attacks happened in the same area on the same day. The idea is that beachgoers need to know what dangers are immediately occurring in their area.
It seems we need a similar system for pit bulls, often fittingly compared to sharks by the severity of their attacks. Pit bulls, however, attack far more often.
It is unthinkable that this lovely young lady could be walking down the road and potentially have no idea that a man was killed by predators in that spot just a few months earlier. (It is also unbelievable that it is likely the same pack was left to live at large.)
If you go to the beach where a shark has even just been spotted, there is a purple flag to warn of dangerous wildlife and the beach may be closed. When we went to Yellowstone a few years back, videos and signs everywhere warned about potential buffalo aggression. But pit bulls are far more likely to attack, and yet atrocious maulings receive limited media coverage and sometimes locals are not even informed at all about deaths caused by pit bull packs that are still in the area months later.
What an insane, backwards world.
I was thinking along those lines yesterday and that a neighborhood should be alerted anytime animal control is called out due to an attack on a human or animal by a dog. Neighbors don’t always see each other and may not know that a child was attacked in their yard or even threatened or that it isn’t safe to walk your dog because they didn’t do more than fine the owner. I know most people on my street don’t know my dog was attacked twice or that another pit bull came at me in my yard. And just maybe if enough knew, things could change.
You should use the neighborhood app NextDoor to inform your neighbors and stay in touch with one another. I created a Pit Bull Problem group in Boca Raton and Delray, FL and have 16 members. We band together and support one another.
Here in Tucson, Nextdoor is a hotbed of pit nutters. You don’t dare post anything that’s even the slightest bit *hurtful* about the dear, sweet widdle wigglebutts.
Sadly any of of the apps are subject to pressure of whatever the latest cause du jour is.
Used to you could get a scanner an listen in to what police an animal control were doing. Post 9/11 there has been a big move to scramble all of that. In my area it was amazing how much serious crime occurred that the media never reported on. Now all communications are scrambled and illegal to listen to.
The local TV station doesn’t report much crime but they always have scarred up pit bulls as the “pet of the week”. They really are the best for families with kids you know. At least that is what they keep telling us.
I can’t remember if I have posted this before.
Notice that they didn’t use a pic of a Chihuahua. They must not attack as often as we have been told. One line stuck out ” I am an unabashed dog lover, but bad dogs simply cannot be tolerated.” I wish they could clone this guy.
I hope this is allowed.
Once again no Chihuahuas mentioned.
Only one pit defender in the comments.
This appears to be a problem country wide.
This has been a problem for many years. My 6 year old was mauled by 3 rottweilers 14 years ago. He did survive but has disfigurement and disabilities from it. I fought for laws to be changed in my town back then and they were changed. I did try at the state level but they just dragged their feet. It is long overdue for something to be done at the state level!!!
Tina, I can’t imagine the agony both you and your child experienced. Good on you for fighting back.
We have BSL at the provincial level here but during COVID due to animal control not allowed to visit people’s homes, pitbull ownership increased exponentially.
Seems the pit cultists took advantage of the situation. Next we’ll all see them whining about how unfair it is to pitbull owners who flouted the law–be forced to muzzle their dogs or have them removed. Or how unfair it is when they get fined 10K and jailed if the dog, bites. And how they should be allowed to keep their dogs (if pitbulls are picked up it’s automatic euthanasia because it is illegal to rehome them) after they get caught.
It’s not just the legislation–it’s the enforcement that seems to be a problem.
I adored Rotties in protection work. I loathe most non-security-professional owners of them. They have zero idea of what they’re looking at when a Rottweiler exhibits signs of territorialism and/or protectionism. The dog escalates resulting in mayhem. My last old collie dog was attacked *twice* by Rotts, one nearly killing her.
I fail to understand why there can’t be (in either country) federal legislation for seat belts and against drunk driving but not prohibiting certain breed ownership.
It seems like if a group of humans or alligators or bears were killing innocent humans in a neighborhood that police would be scouring the neighborhood with helicopters and looking 24/7 for them. I’m baffled why this isn’t happening. Seriously, just an example, if a black bear were on the loose, it would be caught within hours and people would be warned to stay indoors. This is so unfair to these neighbors. They can’t even enjoy the outdoors. I don’t own a weapon but if I lived here I would definitely get one and carry it at all times. It sounds like police are building an investigation and leaving folks in extreme danger.
The owner of the dogs Charlie Everett Owensby on Facebook he goes by “Charlie Dogman” This man thinks everyone is scared of him because of those dogs and his guns the local police departments aren’t gonna do anything to him bring in the TBI