Fourth U.S. pit bull fatality in first two weeks of December 2017
GOOCHLAND, Virginia––Pit bull advocate Bethany Lynn Stephens, 22, on December 14, 2017 became the record 36th human killed by a pit bull in the U.S. in one year, the 37th in the U.S. and Canada combined, and the 54th killed by a dog.
Goochland County Sheriff James Agnew told media that Stephens was the victim of an “absolutely grisly mauling” while walking her pit bulls Tonka and Pacman in a wooded area near her family’s home. Her father discovered her remains after she failed to return from the walk.
Agnew on December 18, 2017 elaborated that he and four of his deputies witnessed the two pit bulls eating from Stephens’ rib cage.
Sheriff suspected pits were bred for fighting
Stephens’ body “was guarded by two very large, brindle-colored pit bull dogs,” Agnew said, adding that he suspected they had been bred for fighting, according to Richmond Times-Dispatch reporter Ali Rockett.
Wrote Rockett, “Initial reports from the medical examiner’s office said Stephens – whom Agnew described as petite, 5-foot-1 and 125 pounds – had a cause of death ‘consistent with being mauled by these dogs.’ She had defensive wounds on her hands and arms, and it appears that she was alive when the animals attacked.”
Agnew on December 18, 2017 said the ongoing investigation had established that the two pit bulls had not been bred or trained for fighting, and were somewhat smaller than his initial estimate that each was as heavy as Stephens.
“Liked” Tia Torres’ projects
Said Agnew, reading from the initial autopsy report, “The first traumatic injury to her was to her throat and face. It appears she was taken to the ground, lost consciousness, and the dogs then mauled her to death.”
Stephens had posted Facebook “likes” for at least two pit bull breeders and many pit bull advocacy projects, including Tia Torres’ Villalobos Rescue Center and Torres’ television program Pit Bulls & Parolees.
Emily Mae Colvin
Emily Mae Colvin, 24, of Section, Alabama, had appeared to be the 34th human pit bull fatality in the U.S. in 2017, and the 35th in the U.S. and Canada combined, as of her death on December 7, 2017, a date that ANIMALS 24-7 predicted “will live in infamy only until the next fatal pit bull attack.”
Only one day later, on December 8, 2017, retired physician Bill Deneke, 70, of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, died from head injuries suffered when a pit bull knocked him down.
Three days after that, on December 11, 2017, Dorothy Ford, 76, was killed in her yard by her own six-year-old pit bull in Alsip, Illinois.
But ANIMALS 24-7 had meanwhile reclassified two fatalities occurring earlier in the year as having been inflicted by mastiff mixes rather than pit bulls, after obtaining better photographs of their facial features than were previously available.
Though still fatalities inflicted by molosser dogs closely related to pit bulls, those victims were not pit bull fatalities––which made Emily Mae Colvin the 33rd U.S. death of 2017 inflicted by pit bulls, with Deneke the 34th, Ford the 35th, and Stephens the 36th.
2017 pit bull fatalities
- Logan Bratz, 6, was killed and his friend Syrai Sanders, 5, was seriously injured by two pit bulls on January 18, 2017 as they walked to school with their mothers in Atlanta, Georgia.
- Valentin Herrera, 76, of Los Angeles, California, was killed by two pit bulls on February 2, 2017 while trying unsuccessfully to protect his own small dog, who was also killed.
- James E. Bennett, 79, of Palm Coast, Florida, died of a heart attack on February 22, 2017, three days after he and his wife Sandra were both hospitalized after unsuccessfully trying to protect Gidget, their seven-year-old Yorkie, from an unprovoked attack by a pit bull who broke his leash to kill the much smaller dog.
- Christian Dallett, 53, of Brooklyn, New York, suffered fatal head injuries when apparently pulled down a flight of stairs while walking a pit bull and a Queensland heeler.
- Jamie Owsley, 21, of Quincy, Illinois, was on February 26, 2017 killed by one of three pit bulls belonging to his roommate and cousin Kerry Talburt II.
- Jase Fohs, 8 months, was fatally mauled by a pit bull on March 23, 2017 at his home in Lusby, Maryland.
Cecile Short, 82, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was killed by two pit bulls owned by neighbor Antwon Demetris Burks, 31, who was charged with manslaughter.
- Maurice Brown, 60, of Dayton, Ohio, was on April 25, 2017 killed by a pit bull outside his home.
- Lisa Green, 32, was killed by her own adopted pit bull on April 27, 2017 in Upper Macungie Township, Pennsylvania.
James Derle Patterson, 63, of Dadeville, Alabama, died on May 7, 2017 from a heart attack after apparently being knocked off a small gasoline-powered scooter and being mauled by two or more pit bulls.
- Kamiko Dao Tsuda-Saelee, 6 months old, was killed in her home on May 8, 2017 by her family’s pit bull.
- Susannah Jean Murray, 3 weeks old, was killed by her mother’s pit bull in her home in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on May 28, 2017.
- Margaret M. Colvin, 90, was killed on June 1, 2017 at her home in Virginia Beach, Virginia, by a pit bull named Blue with undisclosed previous attack history in both New York City and locally. Margaret M. Colvin’s daughter Linda Patterson had adopted Blue from Forever Home Rescue & Rehabilitation just six hours earlier.
Shirley Wright, 89, of Toledo, Ohio, died on June 8, 2017 from injuries inflicted by a pit bull on May 6, 2017.
- Vinson Tucker, 79, was killed on July 11, 2017 by four dogs, including at least one pit bull, while visiting a scrap yard in Whitely, Kentucky.
- Melissa Barnes, 65, was on June 24, 2017 killed in her yard in Bozeman, Montana, by a pit bull kept by her tenant Wayne Bartlett.
- Michael Parks, 60, of Fostoria, Ohio, was killed on July 20, 2017 while trying to break up a fight between his own pit bull, whom he had allowed to run loose, and another pit bull who was being walked on a leash by the owner.
- Jacob Charles Brooks, 4 years old, was killed by his parents’ pit bulls on July 27, 2017 at his home in Lower Valley, Texas.
- Paris Adams, 20 months old, was killed by his grandmother’s pit bull on August 1, 2017 in Hartwell, Georgia.
- William Gamble, 66, died at Florida Hospital Flagler on August 3, 2017, three days and five heart attacks after he was mauled by a pit bull.
- Alicia Malagon, 76, was killed by her daughter & son-in-law’s pit bull on August 26, 2017 at their home in Calhoun County, Florida.
Grace Walks, 41, was on August 27, 2017 killed by two pit bulls in her home in Lake Worth, Florida.
- Barrett Hagans, 1 month old, was killed in his bassinet by his parents’ pit bull on September 20, 2017 at his home in Knox County, Ohio.
- Connie Storey, 61, of Neshoba County, Mississippi, died on September 20, 2017 from injuries inflicted by her son’s pit bull on September 8.
- Unidentified male victim apparently suffered a pit bull bite and died from a semi-simultaneous heart attack on September 21, 2017 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
- Kathy Sue Nichelson, 61, of Cherry Log, Georgia, was killed on September 28, 2017 by a pit bull belonging to a man named Dante Holloway, who has been charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Javian Candolario, 7, was on October 21, 2017 torn apart alive in a yard attached to his own home in Lowell, Massachusetts.
- Sharon Lindemann, 75, was on October 30, 2017 killed by two pit bulls in her driveway in Hartman, Arkansas.
- David Baber, 65, of Hamlet, North Carolina, was on November 4, 2017 killed in his own yard by two of his own dogs, at least one of which was a pit bull.
- Haze Groin, 2 months old, was found dead in Hamilton County, Ohio on November 7, 2017 of respiratory failure with blood coming from his nose, after his mother said she saw the family pit bull sitting on him. “Authorities are zeroing in on sudden infant death syndrome,” Fox News reported. The weight of a dog sitting on an infant could induce or accelerate a SIDS death. (A parallel case was the January 20, 2000 death of six-month-old Jonathon Chandler, of Lancaster, Ohio, who was suffocated in his bed by a Rottweiler.)
- An unidentified Philadelphia man died in hospital on November 24, 2017 from an unspecified “medical trauma,” after having been mauled by four pit bulls moments after a neighbor gave him a plate of food, suffering multiple leg injuries.
- Tracy Patterson Cornelius, 46, was killed by four pit bulls on November 29, 2017 in Guntersville, Alabama, after rushing to the aid of her friend Valeria Hinojosa, whose own pit bull the other four had attacked.
- Korbin Michael Williams, 8, of Gaffney, S.C., was killed on December 2, 2017 by two pit bulls and a German shepherd.
Emily Mae Colvin, 24, was killed on December 7, 2017 in front of her home in Section, Alabama, by a neighbor’s five pit bulls.
- Bill Deneke, 70, of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, died on December 8, 2017 of head injuries suffered when a pit bull knocked him down.
- Dorothy Ford, 76, was killed in her yard by her own six-year-old pit bull in Alsip, Illinois on December 11, 2017.
- Bethany Lynn Stephens, 22, a pit bull advocate, was on December 14, 2017 killed by her own two pit bulls while walking them in a wooded area near her home in Goochland, Virginia.
- Lorraine Brock Saylor, 66, was killed on December 24, 2017 by two pit bulls belonging to neighbor Johnny Ray Lankford.
- Deborah Onsurez, 56, of Modesto, California, killed on December 28, 2017 by a mixed pack including dogs of Doberman, pit bull, German shepherd, Labrador retriever, and Queensland heeler dominant characteristics.
Not included in this list as pit bull victims are:
Rylan Weidman, 9 months, killed in a house fire on June 1, 2017 in Tampa, Florida, when “an aggressive pit bull on the property” drove back would-be rescuers, according to Tampa Times staff writer Tony Marrero.
Unidentified woman, 47, who found dead of unknown causes in her Detroit home on June 7, 2017. The death was reported as a fall, but the victim also had a cut on her neck. Police and animal control officers removed 32 dogs from the home, among them an unknown number of aggressive pit bulls.
Armando Garcia, 17, killed by a ricochet from a police bullet fired at a charging pit bull on June 22, 2017 in Palmdale, California.
Tracy Dowdy Fain died from a sudden stroke on August 7, 2017 at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta hospital in Egleston, Georgia, while accompanying her son Ethan Fain, 7, as he had stitches removed following reconstructive surgery for injuries suffered in a Christmas Eve pit bull attack.
Patricia Crosby, 53, of Detroit, shot dead on October 9, 2017 by Michael Williams, 61, who was trying to protect her from an attacking pit bull.