Both Dog Owners Face Involuntary Manslaughter Charges
Stanley Hartt, 64, was killed by a pack of dogs while walking in Tucumcari, New Mexico
Owner Speaks Out
UPDATE 02/15/23: A dog owner charged with two felony offenses after his dogs escaped their property and killed a man claims his mother is to blame. 64-year old Stanley Hartt was discovered dead on February 1 after being mauled by a pack of dogs belonging to Kristopher Morris and his mother, Mary Montoya. Both were charged with involuntary manslaughter and felony possession of a dangerous dog. Officers shot and killed one of Morris’ dogs named “Zena” at the scene.
Morris got Zena in 2020 then gave her to his mother who had a backyard until he found a home that allowed large dogs. On Morris’ social media pages, a male dog named “Blu” is also seen. That dog, a Labrador-pit bull cross, also appears on his mother’s Facebook page, and seemingly on the lapel video from police, who confiscated the dog that night at Montoya’s home. Blu has similar markings on his right lower leg. Blu had escaped Montoya’s home on December 20.
Dramatic Lapel Camera Video
KOB obtained lapel camera footage from officers who responded to the attack. In the video, police tell a woman that “a pack of dogs” killed the man. She replies, “Do you really think it was dogs that did this? It looks like he got run over or something.” After police shot Zena, which had blood its snout, they spotted another dog. That search led them to Montoya’s home, who initially told officers she only had a puppy. Then officers saw a blue dog inside of a crate with blood on its face.
“That’s the dog we were chasing,” the officers states (which can be heard growling in the background). Montoya feigns, “Are you serious?” But, “She’s only a puppy.” The caged dog has similar right paw markings as Blu, but in January 2022, Zena had a litter of puppies, several of which were blue. So, at the very least Blu sired that litter. By viewing Montoya’s Facebook Timeline, it becomes clear that Blu died two or three days after escaping on December 20.
According to Montoya, Blu “got hit by a car and broke his back.” When asked if his back could be fixed, Montoya said, “No it was very bad.”
As stated in the arrest affidavit, the female blue Labrador-pit bull cross named “Lady” is likely the caged dog seen in the lapel video. Lady was very likely an offspring of Blu. The female dog shot at the scene, “Zena,” is a red boxer, pit bull and Labrador” mix. The tan German shepherd-mix involved in the attack, “Tank,” did not appear in any social media posts of Monotoya or Morris, nor did two smaller dogs confiscated by police from Montoya’s home, named “Oreo” and “Spike.”
Despite all of the “Labrador“ mix language in the arrest affidavit and by Montoya, she primarily posted pit bull advocacy memes after Blu died just before Christmas, such as a “Pit Bull Prayer,” and “We’re Lovers not Fighters” and “I am a pit bull, I am a best friend, I am a family member … I am misunderstood.” Finally, it seems incredulous that Morris would blame his mother for the dogs habitually escaping since she told police, "she takes care of [his dogs] because he does not."
02/08/23: Dog Owners Face Felonies
On Wednesday, authorities arrested and charged a mother and son in connection to the mauling death of Stanley Hartt. Mary Montoya, 50, and Kristopher Morris, 27, each face one count of felony involuntary manslaughter and felony possession of a dangerous dog. Hartt was discovered dead on February 1 at an intersection in Tucumcari. Investigators said his body had “numerous bite marks” and large portions of his legs appeared “to have been eaten away by animals.”
According to the arrest affidavits, investigators found the dog pack shortly after the fatal attack; one of the dogs had blood on its snout. A deputy shot and killed that dog, described as a boxer-lab-pit bull mix “to prevent further harm to the public.” Deputies shot a second dog too, but that dog fled down an alley on West High Street. Deputies followed that dog, which also had blood on its face, to Montoya’s home in the 400 block of West High Street, where she let the dog inside.
State police said Montoya told investigators that multiple dogs lived with them, including dogs named Lady, Oreo and Spike. Montoya said the dogs “belonged to her son, but she takes care of them because he does not.” The dog that was shot and killed by the Quay County deputy, “Zina,” often jumped the fence in the backyard and had bitten at least two people previously, according to the affidavit. Montoya said the dogs would habitually leave the house and “return hours later.”
Morris also admitted to investigators that his dogs had a history of escaping the property and attacking residents, but “claimed the dogs were not aggressive.” Morris even showed police where in the broken fence the dogs would escape. Police characterized the fence as being in “severe disrepair.” Both the mother and son were charged because both were aware the dogs were dangerous, allowed them roam freely, and did nothing to prevent the dogs from escaping.
02/03/23: Man Killed by Dog Pack
Tucumcari, NM - On Thursday, the New Mexico State Police Investigations Bureau announced that a man in Tucumcari had been killed by a pack of five dogs. The Quay County Sheriff’s Office requested that the agency investigate the death of 64-year old Stanley Hartt. The deadly attack occurred on February 1 at about 8:00 pm while Hartt was walking on 11th Street near Gamble, states the release. Hartt was pronounced dead at the scene by the Office of Medical Investigator.
One of the five dogs was “euthanized by a Quay County Sheriff’s deputy” following the attack, states the release. The remaining dogs have been located and turned over to Quay County Animal Control, states the release. All five dogs were initially described as mixed-breeds. In an advisory update, while authorities still searched for the dogs, the Quay County Sheriff’s Office described one of the dogs as a “tan German Shepherd mix.” The last dog was found by 11:00 am Thursday.
The Quay County Sun spoke to Tucumcari City Manager Paula Chacon, who said that a full-time animal control officer for Tucumcari would likely begin work this week -- police had been handling animal complaints during the absence of this. Both Undersheriff Russell Shafer and Tucumcari Mayor Ralph Moya said that a fatal dog attack was unprecedented in the city and county, which is about 175 miles east of Albuquerque. “I’ve never heard of a dog attack like this,” Shafer said.
The Sun also noted that Hartt had recently written a guest column for the publication. In a piece titled, “Best days still coming for Tucumcari,” published in November 2022, Harrt wrote that he had settled in Tucumcari in early 2021. He liked the “haunting quality of this place.” He was thankful “about all the things Tucumcari is missing,” such as floods, tornadoes or wildfires, as well as “excessive crime, mass shootings and political crazies.” There was no mention of loose dogs.
02/08/22: 2022 Dog Bite Fatality: Man Dies After Attack by Dogs in Doña Ana County, New Mexico
08/01/22: 2021 Dog Bite Fatality: 6-Year old Boy Killed by Dogs in Doña Ana County, New Mexico
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.