Female victims died alone, found by husbands minutes apart
WAYNESVILLE, Ohio; BAY CITY, Michigan––Police in Waynesville, Ohio and Bay City, Michigan are still trying to unravel the many mysteries surrounding the alleged unwitnessed dog attack deaths of Mary Malissa Matthews, formerly Mary Begovich Evans, 49, and Brandy Joy Boschen O’Dell, 41, more than ten days after their husbands––in Matthews’ case her estranged husband––reported finding both dead in their homes, just minutes but 321 miles apart, in two cities directly linked by Interstate 75.
Police initially attributed the deaths to two Great Danes and two pit bulls, respectively, but an as yet unidentified third dog appears to have been in the Matthews home. A Chihuahua was found, along with the two pit bulls, in the O’Dell home.
Dog rescue route
I-75 is among the most heavily traveled routes used by rescuers to transport dogs from U.S. shelters to Canada, turning right at Detroit to make the run to Toronto. But any involvement of either victim in dog rescue, which initially looked likely, may have had little to do with their deaths.
Matthews’ remains were discovered in Clearcreek Township, a Waynesville suburb, at about 2:30 p.m. on Friday, November 1, 2019.
O’Dell’s remains were discovered at the Westshore Estates Mobile Home Park at about 2:55 p.m. the same day.
Reports of both deaths reached news media the following Monday, November 4, 2019.
Mayhem by Mayhem the pit bull
The impression that rescue activity may have figured in the Matthews and O’Dell deaths was heightened when at 7:45 p.m. on the night of November 4, 2019 a pit bull detonated at Pawsitive Warriors Rescue, a two-year-old shelter in New Carlisle, Ohio, also located along the I-75 corridor.
“Mayhem, a 2-to-3-year-old pit bull, was put down after he mauled a volunteer and injured two other people at Pawsitive Warriors,” reported Springfield (Ohio) News Sun staff writer Jenna Lawson.
Pawsitive Warriors founder Molly Murray told Lawson, Lawson wrote, that “Mayhem was seized from a drug bust house and had been at the rescue for about two weeks.
“Murray said a teen volunteer was bringing Mayhem inside around 7:00 p.m. when he started becoming resistant,” Lawson added. “The volunteer tried to pull him into his cage with a slip lead, but then Mayhem bit her.
Volunteer critically injured
“Murray said the volunteer called for help and Kim Hoke, a lead volunteer, came to the teen’s rescue — but then Mayhem mauled her. The teen’s dad happened to be at the rescue and was able to pull the dog off of Hoke and hold him down until the sheriff’s office got to the scene, but he was also bitten.”
Hoke, critically injured, was helicoptered to Miami Valley Hospital. As of November 10, 2019 she had endured three surgeries, but had managed to stand three times and to “sit in a chair for a few minutes,” according to postings to the Pawsitive Warriors page on Facebook.
Murray posted a list of nine safety precautions that Pawsitive Warriors was taking before the Mayhem mayhem, and ten further precautions to be introduced. Both lists center on temperament testing, which has failed in at least 38 cases of shelter dogs killing humans since 2000.
Murray made no mention of keeping fire extinguishers handy, the nonlethal response to dog attack having by far the best success rate, about 70% compared to less than 30% for all others.
Mary Matthews’ son made 911 call
Luke Matthews, son of estranged husband Mark Dale Matthews from a previous marriage, made the 911 call about finding Mary Evans Matthews, on behalf of his father.
Mark Dale Matthews had been in jail from October 30, 2019 to earlier on November 1, 2019, after turning himself in on an outstanding warrant for failing to pay child support. He telephoned his son to drive him home, he told police, after Mary Matthews did not answer his calls.
Luke Matthews never mentioned seeing blood at the scene, but did mention suspicion that Mary Matthews had died from an overdose. Luke Matthews took instructions to do CPR and rescue breathing from the dispatcher before describing the condition of the remains, and even then his description left much out.
No mention of blood
According to first responding Clearcreek Township police officer Wendi Blaha in her incident report, “Dale Matthews and Luke Matthews followed me inside the residence through the garage. The steps in the garage at the base of the door that leads inside the residence had blood on them, as did the door frame. The door opens into the laundry room.
“Inside the laundry room I noted a significant amount of blood on the washer and dryer, as well as the inside of the door and the wall next to the door.
“I noted blood on the walls leading from the laundry room to the bathroom near the front door of the residence. Lying on the floor was Mary Matthews, partially nude from the waist down. She was wearing a sweatshirt that contained multiple blood stains.
“I could see that the lower half of Mary Matthews’ body appeared to have numerous cuts or puncture marks and at least one chunk of flesh appeared [to be] missing from her upper left ankle area. Mary Matthews was covered in blood. Mary Matthews appeared bloated and not of good color. Mary Matthews was obviously deceased.”
Searching the house, Blaha and other police officers found sweat pants in the living room which “appeared to be torn or punctured in numerous places and also heavily blood-stained.”
Both living room couches were blood-stained as well. On the floor in front of one couch was “a baseball bat which was heavily blood-stained, as well as a bloody towel lying next to it.”
Continued Blaha, “Also in the living room, as well as throughout the entire residence, were numerous beer cans, sometimes piled high on top of each other in heaps. The kitchen area was strewn with beer cans, wet and dry food, and other debris, as well as numerous medication bottles. On the floor were more bloody towels and blood on the floor.”
Two Great Danes but three bowls
Outside on “an enclosed deck area there were two large but thin Great Danes, one black and one brown,” Blaha wrote. “The deck was littered with dog feces to the point that the actual deck floor could not be seen. There was blood on the blinds covering the glass door and a small portion of wall in the same area.
“Mark Dale Matthews advised that the black dog is ‘vicious’ and has reportedly bitten several people, including himself,” recounted Blaha. “Mark Dale Matthews had evidence of prior bite marks to his right forearm,” Blaha observed. “Mark Dale Matthews advised later that he was always able to fend off the dogs, but if his wife was alone and they attacked, she would not have been able to defend herself because of her small stature.”
Blaha failed to mention, but police crime scene photography revealed, that there were three stainless steel dog bowls lined up against a wall, all of them with dried food encrusted on the rims as if from relatively recent use. The cleanest of the bowls might have been used for water, but had a food crust similar to the other two, with no water in it.
Car had not moved in two days
A neighbor told police, Blaha summarized, that “They have had ongoing disputes with the Matthews’ and a temporary protective order against Mary Matthews. Their motion camera did not pick up any movement in or out of the Matthews residence after noon on October 30, 2019. The neighbor was woken up at approximately 3:00 a.m. [on November 1, 2019] by the dogs barking and whining outside. The neighbor additionally reported that the [rented] vehicle Mary Matthews had driven home [apparently after driving Mark Dale Matthews to jail, where he checked in at about 10:30 a.m.] had never moved from its location.”
Angela Mass, owner of the Doggie Day Spa in Waynesville, identifying herself to Mary Matthews’ daughter Brooke Francis as Mary Matthews’ employer of the past several months, said she had received a text message from the victim on October 30, 2019. The text message may have been the last indication that Mary Matthews was alive.
Earlier, Mary Matthews told Amy Rainoshek of Tyler, Texas, founder and president of Save Rocky the Great Dane Rescue & Rehab, that she worked for PetSmart and was a second year nursing student.
An obituary posted by the Baird Funeral Home in Troy, Ohio, said Mary Matthews had also worked at the Hometown Marketplace store in Waynesville, where several people posting condolences to her family remembered seeing and speaking with her.
“May not have been in clear-minded state”
Continued Blaha, “Chief coroner Doyle Burke arrived on the scene, as did two of his investigators, for further review of the body, scene, and other evidence. The preliminary finding from the coroner appears to point to Mary Matthews having been attacked by her dogs. It appears that she was able to get them outside, but perhaps didn’t recognize the extent of her injuries and felt she could handle things on her own,” Blaha wrote.
“There have been numerous calls to the residence in the past,” Blaha recalled, “and it has been well known that both Mark Dale Matthews and Mary Matthews suffered from chronic alcoholism.
“Mark Dale Matthews further reported that Mary Matthews would start her day by consuming numerous prescription medications and would start drinking beer as well. Mark Dale Matthews further advised that Mary Matthews would continue with this daily pattern until passing out.
“Due to this history,” Blaha finished, “it is felt that Mary Matthews may not have been in a clear-minded state to judge the severity of her situation and thus failed to call for help.”
Had bred Cane Corso/pit bull mixes
Mary Matthews (then known as Mary Evans) had in 2014-2016 bred, raised, and advertised for sale Cane Corso and pit bull mixed breed puppies. Pit bulls and pit mixes, including Cane Corso/pit mixes, had to November 1, 2019 killed at least 471 Americans and Canadians in 37 years; Great Danes had killed just three.
But, without mentioning the household background with Cane Corsos, pit bulls, and their mixes, Mark Dale Matthews made repeated efforts after the fatal attack on his estranged wife to portray the Great Danes found at the scene as uniquely dangerous.
For example, Mark Dale Matthews told WHIO-TV that after the dogs fought and Mary Matthews broke up the fights, “they would take it out on her,” unless he protected her.
Mark Dale Matthews also claimed in that interview that he and Mary Matthews bought the Great Danes for $25 from a family he did not name about two years earlier, and that one of the Great Danes had bitten him recently.
“They were both bite risks”
“They were both bite risks,” Mark Dale Matthews told The Associated Press. “And I told my wife I didn’t want either one of them, because I’m not a Great Dane fan anyway, but she wanted to rescue them, so I let her go ahead and get them.”
Video sent to Save Rocky the Great Dane Rescue & Rehab soon after Mark Dale and Mary Matthews adopted a fawn-colored Great Dane named Bo Jackson, however, showed Mark Dale repeatedly encouraging Bo Jackson to attack a black and white Corgi/husky/shelty mix named Dexter, in the name of play, and rough-housing with Bo Jackson. Bo Jackson showed little interest in any of the rough stuff.
Reported Associated Press, “The smaller of the two Great Danes was more aggressive, Mark Dale Matthews said, and he would ‘beat him over the head’ with a baseball bat if he got too aggressive.”
“I wouldn’t hit him hard; I would just keep him back,” Mark Dale Matthews asserted. “You know, keep him from attacking Mary, and I’d get him outside.”
Stated dog histories did not match the record
Mark Dale Matthews also told WLWT 5 television that he had wanted to get rid of the dogs, whom he said they had rescued two years earlier, but Mary Matthews didn’t want to.
“She liked to rescue animals that were going to be put down,” Mark Dale Matthews told WLWT 5.
Much that Mark Dale Matthews said about the Great Danes was demonstrably false, beginning with when and how they were obtained.
Through Mary Matthews’ social media postings, ANIMALS 24-7 was able to identify seven different dogs in the Matthews’ household during the two years preceding her death.
The Matthews dog roster
Darby, a Cane Corso born in 2014, was apparently the last dog left from Mary Matthews breeding business. Darby was given to the victim’s son Brandon in 2018, when Mark and Mary Matthews began sharing accommodations.
Daphne, a black Great Dane, died in 2018, as apparently did Denver, a boxer.
Dexter, the black and white Corgi/husky/shelty mix, was in the home as of January 2019, shown in photos and mentioned to Rainoshek, but was last mentioned or shown in a posted photo in April 2019.
Mary Matthews received the Great Dane named Bo Jackson from Rainoshek on January 5, 2019. Rainoshek shared with ANIMALS 24-7 more than 30 pages of documentation that Matthews submitted to Save Rocky the Great Dane Rescue & Rehab before Bo Jackson was released to her.
Mary Matthews had also transmitted to Rainoshek many photos and video images of Bo Jackson settling into the Matthews home.
The photos showed several different parts of the house, with little sign anywhere of the neglect described in the Waynesville police report of Mary Matthews’ death scene.
The only visible beer cans in any of the photos and video images were on a lamp table beside Mark Dale Matthews and tipped over beside his foot in a videotaped rough-housing scene.
Caitlyn & Colt
Bo Jackson was one of the two Great Danes impounded from the death scene.
Caitlyn, the third black Great Dane to live in the Matthews’ home since 2017, was not. Caitlyn was received from Indiana resident Laura Greimer on February 6, 2019, after biting two adults and three middle schoolers in her previous household. The bite history would have made Caitlyn a suspect in Mary Matthews’ death, had Caitlyn been there. However, Caitlyn was reclaimed by Greimer less than three weeks after her arrival. Greimer alleged that Caitlyn suffered from having been kept outdoors and underfed during her time in the Matthews home.
Colt, a male black Great Dane, appeared in photos that Mary Matthews posted to social media in April 2019 and on September 25, 2019. Colt was the other Great Dane impounded after Mary Matthews’ death.
Some circumstantial evidence suggests Colt might have been adopted from Harlequin Haven Great Dane Rescue in Bethel, Brown County, Ohio, just over an hour south of Waynesville on I-275.
Harlequin Haven founder Dale Bath, however, did not mention having ever had anything to do with either Matthews, in discussion with Springfield News Sun reporter Lawrence Budd after the fatal attack, and did not respond to an ANIMALS 24-7 inquiry.
But who was the third dog?
Both Bo Jackson and Colt were killed on November 2, 2019. Their heads were preserved for rabies testing and, perhaps, for forensic odontology, to see if their teeth match the wounds on Mary Matthews’ body.
But neither Colt nor Bo Jackson were necessarily involved in killing Mary Matthews.
The presence of an unidentified third dog may be inferred by the presence of the apparent third food bowl shown among the crime scene photos.
The 3:00 outburst of barking the neighbor heard two days after Mary Matthews was last known to have been alive might hypothetically have coincided with her death––or, in view of the state of her remains hinting at an earlier death, with the unknown third dog either escaping or being removed from the scene.
“From everything I’m seeing, I have questions”
“Brandon Evans and his sister Brooke Francis,” Mary Matthews’ children by her previous marriage to Florida heavy equipment repair technician Michael Evans, “said they cannot comprehend how their mother could have been mauled to death by her Great Danes inside her home,” reported Karin Johnson of WLWT 5 television news.
“According to Facebook posts shared by Mary Matthews’ children, she referred to her dogs as her ‘lazy Danes.’ In September 2019 she posted photos of them on social media curled up in her couch,” Johnson continued.
“From everything I’m seeing, I have questions,” Brandon Evans told Johnson and reiterated to ANIMALS 24-7. “She was our mother, and she was a person, and this deserves to be investigated.”
“This has been brushed aside”
Evans was more emphatic to Lawrence Budd.
“With the help of Clearcreek and Warren County, this has been brushed aside, and she’s just being chalked up as another druggie that was too incoherent to call them for help,” Brandon Evans told Budd.
“They said she was a pain in their side. They didn’t like her,” Brandon Evans said, and Brooke Francis agreed in her statements to ANIMALS 24-7.
Brandon Evans told Budd, and ANIMALS 24-7, that the Waynesville police “appeared to conclude their investigation that day, based partly on Dale Mark Matthews’ claim reported that Mary Matthews was unable to defend herself from the dogs,” Budd summarized.
“She’s not as weak as they say she is,” Brandon Evans said.
Awaiting toxicology report
Michael Evans, Mary Matthews’ first husband, agreed, and told ANIMALS 24-7 that Mary Matthews had formerly been an expert rider, used to handling horses much larger and stronger than her Great Danes. Michael Evans also described to ANIMALS 24-7 several discrepancies in Mary Matthews’ purported behavior after she was attacked.
For example, Michael Evans said, she would have immediately called for an ambulance, if only to use the injuries as a pretext for getting more prescriptions for pain pills.
Both Michael and Brandon Evans acknowledged that Mary Matthews abused prescription drugs, but disputed that she was a heavy beer drinker. That, both told ANIMALS 24-7, was more like Mark Dale Evans’ behavior.
Coroner Doyle Burke told Budd, and Matthews’ survivors, that the direction of further police investigation would likely be guided by a forensic toxicology report. The toxicology tests will take several weeks to complete.
But what became of the third dog?
“Burke said the investigation is continuing,” Budd wrote. “Further investigation, such as microscopic examination of Matthews’ multiple wounds, could provide new evidence, according to Burke.”
“We are open to any information. Some things just can’t be proven,” Burke told Budd.
But who was the missing third dog? What became of that dog?
ANIMALS 24-7 spent a week looking for clues, ending up right where we started, with the photo of three dirty bowls in a row, as if three dogs had been fed together shortly before Mary Matthews died.
Brandy Joy O’Dell
The Brandy Joy O’Dell case, in Bay City, Michigan, while occurring under superficially similar circumstances, appears to have evoked much less controversy.
Reported Cole Waterman for MLive.com, “In the home with her were two pit bull-type dogs and a Chihuahua, said Bay City Public Safety Captain Caleb Rowell. O’Dell had been alone with the dogs for less than a day, the captain added.”
The victim’s husband, Raymond O’Dell, called 911 after arriving home [apparently from work] and finding her deceased.
O’Dell crated the pit bulls “before police arrived,” Rowell said.
Continued Waterman, “Police initially believed O’Dell died of natural causes and that the dog bites were inflicted postmortem.”
Investigating dogs’ history
A Bay County Medical Examiner’s office pathologist “conducted an autopsy on O’Dell’s remains on November 4, 2019, Waterman explained, “and concluded she had died ‘from several bites made by one or more dogs that were pets.’
“We’re still trying to gather some information,” Rowell told Waterman. “We’re trying to find out if there is any history of the dogs biting or attacking anybody else to see if (the owners) should have known the dogs were vicious and if anything could have been done to prevent it.
“We’re interviewing family, neighbors, and friends to see if they know anything about the dogs, if they bit any people in the past. We don’t even know for sure both dogs did it,” Rowell mentioned. “We’re still trying to figure that out.”
Two pits in family, plus Chihuahua
Facebook postings and photographs indicate that one of Brandy O’Dell’s daughters by a previous marriage, Veronica Urban, had two pit bull-type dogs, who were familiar to both the victim and her husband.
While the Chihuahua is not believed to have been directly involved in the attack on Brandy O’Dell, the behavior of the Chihuahua, the “third dog” in this case, might in some manner have triggered the pit bulls; and/or the victim may have tried to protect the Chihuahua from being attacked by one or the other of the larger dogs.
Brandy O’Dell was the third dog attack fatality in Michigan since August 19, 2019. Emma Hernandez, 9, of Detroit, and Benjamin Cobb, 4, of Hazel Park, were also killed by pit bulls.
Christopher Dale Collins
Aspects of the Mary Matthews case in particular uncomfortably recall several earlier unwitnessed dog attack fatalities, also involving confluences of allegedly known dangerous dogs with troubled relationships and substance abuse.
Notably, ANIMALS 24-7 has been told that Christopher Dale Collins, 42, of Winchester, Kentucky, escaped with only a fine of $500 for failing to report a dog attack in connection with the November 2, 2018 death of his wife April Collins, 45, who was mauled late the day before.
Another Christopher Dale Collins, 44, with a similar rap sheet, is serving a five-year sentence in the Frankfort, Kentucky penitentiary for wanton endangerment, the original charge filed in the April Collins csse.
April Collins’ husband was initially charged with second-degree wanton endangerment for allegedly leaving April alone with a pit bull who had bitten her multiple times in the past, including on the evening before the fatal attack.
That Christopher Dale Collins reportedly told police that the pit bull would only attack April when she was drinking alcohol.
Detective Matt Eversole testified that there was alcohol in April Collins’ system at the time of her death.
Christopher Dale Collins had at least eight previous convictions for offenses including violation of a Kentucky domestic violence order, assault in the fourth degree, terroristic threatening in the third degree, and menacing.
Jeffrey Mann, 62, convicted of murder in November 1993, is still serving a 15-years-to-life sentence for setting a pit bull named Mack on his live-in girlfriend, Angela “Dolly” Kaplan, 28, during a quarrel on the night of September 2, 1992.
The Mann case brought the first-ever U.S. murder conviction in which an animal figured as the weapon. Mack bit Kaplan more than 70 times, almost exclusively on the undersides of her arms. Afterward, she bled to death on a living room sofa while Mann purportedly slept in the family bedroom.
The fatal quarrel occurred as Kaplan tried to regain custody of her two daughters, 10 and 6 at the time of the murder trial, from their paternal grandparents, who had Kaplan declared an unfit mother in the spring of 1992.
Shortly after the murder, investigators learned the girls’ father, Howard Kaplan, had sexually abused the older girl and three of her friends while they were in care of the grandparents. The father was convicted of the crimes; neglect charges were also brought against the grandparents for allegedly letting the abuse happen. The children were placed in foster care.
A Howard Kaplan, 58, who may be the same individual, pleaded guilty to child pornography charges in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court in October 2015 and was sentenced to serve five years in prison.
Mann was prosecuted and convicted of murder through the perseverance of Joyce Ragels, the victim’s mother, and homicide detective Michaelene Taliano, who spent months finding witnesses to the pattern of abuse that marked the Mann/Kaplan relationship and consulting dog behavior experts.
Taliano retired after 33 years with the Cleveland Police Department in 1998.