Early in May a female jogger, Pamela Devitt, was found viciously mauled, dead by what appeared to be an attack by a dog pack. Nearly at the end of the month, May 30, the owner of four pit bulls was charged with Devitt’s murder, tests coming back positive that the blood on the muzzles and coats of his dogs a positive DNA match to the 63-year-old woman’s blood.
The Associated Press (via Yahoo News) reported that owner of the dogs Alex Jackson, 29, was charged with murder and owner negligence of an animal causing death. He was originally arrested on May 9, the day of the attack by his dogs turned vicious dog pack, but was released pending the results of the DNA tests on the blood found on the animals.
Steve Whitmore, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, said, “The DNA came back with blood on the dogs that matched the victim’s blood.”
Devitt had been dragged over fifty yards, scalped, and bitten between 150 and 200 times by the dogs.
Whitmore noted that the case was the first involving a dog mauling since the death of Diane Whipple in 2001. She had been attacked in the hallway of her own apartment building by her neighbor’s dog. The neighbor, Marjorie Knoller, was sentenced to 15-years-to-life in prison for second degree murder in 2008, according to a San Francisco Chronicle report.
Knoller’s husband, Noel, also was convicted but of a lesser charge — involuntary manslaughter.
Whipple was killed by a 140-pound Presa Canario, a large rare breed of dog originating out of the Canary Islands.
Killings by dogs are rare, which makes killings by dog packs even rarer unfortunate events. But this is the second death in May that has occurred as a result of a dog pack mauling.
The day before Pamela Devitt was killed, a dog pack pulled a double-amputee from his motorized wheelchair in Harleyville, South Carolina. Carlton Freeman, 80, was hospitalized with multiple lacerations and bite marks to his head. The Dorchester County coroner noted that Freeman had attempted to fight off the dogs but was basically helpless due to his condition. Freeman died from the wounds four days later.
Three of the four dogs that attacked Freeman were tracked to a house in the neighborhood by the blood trail. Unlike California, where owners can be held responsible for the actions of their animals, South Carolina does not. After the offending animals are kept under observation for nearly a month, they are returned to the owners. No charges will be filed regarding the attack on the 80-year-old double-amputee.
As noted, this is not the case in California, where a person killed by dogs, solo or in a pack, can be charged with murder. And the husband of Pamela Devitt places the blame for his wife’s death on the owner of the pit bulls.
“I do not blame the dogs. I don’t blame pit bulls,” Ben Devitt told KCAL-TV. “I blame people who don’t take responsibility for their animals.”