Alleged killer had her favorite pit cloned, & was charged with trying to break into a pound to rescue pits who mauled a couple
LOS ANGELES, California––Joyce Bernann McKinney, 68, once a globally prominent pit bull advocate, was on July 3, 2019 formally charged with assault with a deadly weapon, hit-and-run driving, and vehicular manslaughter for the June 17, 2019 killing of 91-year-old Gennady Bolotsky, a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust during World War II.
Bolotsky, originally from Ukraine, was walking his dog in a marked crosswalk at about 5:30 a.m. when McKinney allegedly ran him down. His dog survived.
So-called dine-and-dash dog attacks on humans and their animals, usually by pit bulls, have become so frequent, numbering in the hundreds per year, as to have become the subject of proposed legislation in several states.
Hit victim twice
Bolotsky, however, was hit––and apparently quite deliberately hit a second time––by a pickup truck with expired North Carolina license plates.
No one seems to have recognized McKinney, usually described by mass media as just a “homeless woman,” as the formerly wealthy pit bull advocate she had been, until ANIMALS 24-7 artist, photographer, and social media editor Beth Clifton checked her background on a hunch.
“Authorities had offered a reward of $50,000 for information leading to the suspect,” reported Daniel Sugarman of the Times of Israel. “Surveillance footage showed Mr Bolotsky being knocked over. The vehicle stopped, only to resume movement seconds later, driving over the body.”
Pooped in the street
Elaborated Kim Tobin of NBC-4 News, “McKinney was arrested on June 21, 2019 in Burbank. Los Angeles police detectives found McKinney living on a street near the Hollywood Burbank Airport, out of a cockroach-infested 2006 GMC Sierra that they allege struck Bolotsky. Several people who work near where the suspect was found said they had complained to police repeatedly that McKinney was living in the pickup truck and defecating in the street and on the sidewalk in front of their business, said a law enforcement source familiar with the case.”
The truck contained a large portable dog kennel, but McKinney was not in possession of a dog when arrested.
Just over a decade earlier, beginning with an August 5, 2008 media conference at the headquarters of a company then called RNL Bio in Seoul, South Korea, McKinney and her deceased pit bull Booger were profiled more than 150 times by mass media. As well as effusively praising the late Booger, McKinney took the opportunity to promote pit bulls in general.
First commercial dog cloning
McKinney claimed to have paid $50,000 to have RNL Bio clone Booger. The transaction was billed as the first commercial dog cloning.
At the Seoul press conference, McKinney cuddled five pit bull puppies and claimed that Booger had once saved her life when she was attacked by a much larger dog––but no record of the incident could be found.
The cloning team was led by Lee Byeong-chun, a former assistant to Hwang Woo-suk, the founder of RNL Bio, whose 2004 claim to have cloned human embryos and extracted stem cells from them was exposed a year later as false.
However, Hwang Woo-suk and Lee Byeong-chun had verifiably cloned a dog named Missy in 2007, for John Sperling, the billionaire founder of Phoenix University. They had reportedly experimentally cloned 20 more dogs before McKinney’s.
McKinney, however, was then soon recognized and identified by British tabloid reporters, with further details of her life soon exposed by other media.
Miss World/Wyoming & the Mormon missionary
Born in Avery County, North Carolina, McKinney was named Miss World/Wyoming in 1972, and participated in the 1973 Miss World-USA pageant.
McKinney several years later became infatuated with a Mormon missionary whom she pursued to England in 1977. After a male accomplice allegedly brought the missionary to her at the point of a toy gun, she allegedly chained him to a bed with mink-lined handcuffs and forced him to have sex with her for two days between Bible readings meant to convince him to marry her. He eventually escaped.
Proclaiming innocence, McKinney and the accomplice in 1978 jumped bail and fled.
McKinney next posed first as a nun and then topless for magazines in Atlanta. Arrested again, she jumped bail again, but reappeared in the tabloids in 1984, for allegedly stalking the same missionary in Salt Lake City.
Alleged attempted burglary
In 1993, the Johnson City, Tennessee Press Chronicle recalled, McKinney disguised herself with a wig and sought work at the Washington County Animal Shelter to try to gain access to several pit bulls who were to be euthanized for attacking a couple. She was charged with attempting to break into the shelter, but the case was dropped in 1997.
In 2004, in Carter County, Tennessee, McKinney was charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and speeding, after trying to recruit a 15-year-old boy to rob a house in an attempt to raise funds to buy a prosthetic limb for a three-legged horse. Again McKinney failed to appear in court.
After that, McKinney “surfaced on the criminal dockets in her native Avery County,” for allegedly threatening another woman, and back in Washington County, Tennessee, again for alleged burglary, according to Daniel Gilbert of the Bristol Herald Courier in September 2008.
Stiffed the cloners
Strange as the McKinney saga already was, it picked up a further twist when she repeatedly called prominent animal advocates, heads of humane organizations, and journalists, including ANIMALS 24-7 editor Merritt Clifton, seeking help in a last-minute effort to win custody of the five pit bulls said to have been cloned from Booger’s frozen ear.
McKinney never actually gave RNL Bio any money, she insisted. Instead, she delayed payment pending receipt of independent laboratory confirmation that the puppies were Booger’s offspring, and pending the sale of her house to raise the money.
McKinney turned to Hwang Woo-suk and Lee Byeong-chun, she said, after at first trying to have Booger cloned by a Texas firm, Genetic Savings & Clone.
Genetic Savings & Clone had reportedly cloned a cat for $50,000, but went out of business in 2006. McKinney said she had spent months tracing the founders and pursuing legal action to recover Booger’s frozen ear.
But the cloners have now made millions cloning pups for others
McKinney said that if she failed to pay RNL Bio the $50,000 they expected by September 28, 2008, the company had threatened to use the cloned puppies in stem cell research.
McKinney had little hope of obtaining the cash by the deadline, she admitted, saying she had been living on Social Security disability insurance until the Social Security Administration found out about her deal to clone Booger and cut her off, saying that if she could pay $50,000 to clone a dog, she did not need financial aid.
Neither RNL Bio nor Seoul National University, Lee Byeong-chun’s employer at the time, responded to inquiries about McKinney’s allegation that the puppies would be used in experiments, the fate of the puppies, and what became of the two surrogate mother
dogs who carried the cloned embryos to birthing.
But RNL Bio apparently morphed into a company called Sooam.
“Over the past decade,” reported David Ewing Duncan for Vanity Fair in August 2018, the company has cloned more than 1,000 dogs, at up to $100,000 per birth.”