Findings could lead to prosecution of fiancé of pregnant victim, who found her body, has denied both that Curtis did it and that he is a pit bull
PARIS, France––DNA test results released on November 3, 2020 by Eric Boussuge, prosecutor for the district of Amiens, support the finding of two court-appointed veterinarians that only the pit bull Curtis participated in killing Elisa Pilarski, 29, six months pregnant, and her unborn child, on November 16, 2019 in the Retz Forest.
Among the few undisputed facts about the case are that Pilarski was walking her fiancé Christophe Lucien Joseph Ellul’s dog Curtis at the time, and that Ellul found Curtis alongside Pilarski’s badly mauled body on November 16, 2019, in a ravine below a trail in the Retz Forest.
The newspaper Sud Ouest and Agence France Presse reported that “A judicial investigation against [an unnamed suspect believed to be Ellul] is in progress in this case for ‘manslaughter by clumsiness, recklessness, inattention, negligence or breach of a duty of care (…) resulting from the aggression committed by dogs.'”
The investigation had been on hold pending completion of the DNA and veterinary odentology [toothmark] reports.
Pilarski had moved in with Ellul just nine days before her death, relocating from Rebenacq, in the French Atlantic Pyranees region, just north of Spain.
From “The Beast of Gévaudan” to “The Beast of Retz”
Pilarski’s route, ironically, likely took her through Gévaudan, epicenter of a series of attacks by a wolf-sized ferocious canine who killed as many as 100 people between 1764 and 1767. Described by witnesses as “like a wolf but not a wolf,” the “Beast of Gévaudan” was never conclusively identified as to breed or species.
“Some have speculated that it was an armored war dog, which explains its strange appearance and why it shrugged off musket shots,” wrote Joseph A. Williams for the May 28, 2020 edition of The Smithsonian.
The “Beast of Gévaudan” also survived a bayonetting by Marie-Jeanne Valet, age “19 or 20,” who on August 11, 1765 successfully defended her sister when the mystery beast attacked them as they crossed the River Valet, Williams related.
As a further irony, says Wikipedia, “In the spring of 1765, in the midst of the Gévaudan hysteria, an unrelated series of attacks occurred near the commune of Soissons,” the nearest city to the site of Pilarski’s death, “when an individual wolf killed at least four people over a period of two days before being tracked and killed by a man armed with a pitchfork.”
No mystery beast killed Pilarski
But it was no mystery beast who killed Pilarski, despite the efforts of Ellul and friends to construct some mystery about it.
Ellul and friends have contended ever since Pilarski’s death that Curtis was a 34-pound Patterdale/whippet mix, not a pit bull of nearly twice that size. Curtis was not licensed as a pit bull, but for an obvious reason, since possessing a pit bull is illegal in France.
Ellul and friends have further insisted that Pilarski was killed by a pack of 21 Poitevin hounds, from among 62 of the rare hounds kept by the Paris-based Le Rallye de la Passion hunting club. There is, however, no record of Poitevin hounds ever killing a human.
The 21 hounds, pursued by horsemen, were released nearby to hunt deer about half an hour to an hour after forensic examination indicates that Pilarski died.
“Curtis is the sole author of the bites”
The veterinarians’ findings “are clear,” reported FranceBleu, summarizing details from a 50-page veterinary report first published by the regional newspaper Courrier Picard. “Curtis is the sole author of the bites that caused the death of Elisa Pilarski. Vets studied the marks on the victim’s body and compared them to Curtis’s jaw. They match.”
“The jaws of the dogs were also measured by veterinarians,” elaborated FranceTVInfo. “According to Le Courrier Picard, on [Poitevin hounds], the gap between the upper fangs is at least 4.4 centimeters. The gap between the upper fangs on Curtis is 3.6 centimeters. On the wounds to Pilarski, no lesion has a gap of more than 3.6 centimeters.
“The comparisons leave no doubt, say the veterinarians: the wounds are not compatible with bites from Poitevin hounds,” FranceTVInfo continued.
The veterinarians’ report did consider that Curtis might have been stimulated to attack “upon hearing the pack of hunting dogs,” who were being mustered for the hunt several miles away.
“The animal is indeed a pit bull”
The veterinarians also examined Curtis himself, who remains impounded.
“The vets establish with certainty,” FranceBleu said, “that Curtis is not a cross between a Patterdale terrier and a whippet, as his master, the companion of the victim said. The animal is indeed a pit bull.
“Curtis was illegally imported, with forged documents, experts say,” FranceBleu added, confirming details of his origin discovered by ANIMALS 24-7 researcher Beth Clifton and initially published on November 25, 2019, updated and reposted on April 25, 2020.
The French tabloid Oise-Hebdo reported that Ellul, in several emails, wrote that his dogs “Drago and Curtis are real pit bulls,” whose “origins are designed to make fighting dogs, war machines in combat.”
Pedigreed two-year-old American pit bull terriers
Both Drago and Curtis, ANIMALS 24-7 reported on November 25, 2019, are pedigreed two-year-old American pit bull terriers apparently bred by Sharon DeWit of Hitam Kennel in the Netherlands. Curtis was originally named Dark Midnight.
Handling Curtis and Chivas for Ellul, Pilarski––according to Facebook postings––on August 17, 2019 won two first place medals and a second place at an American Dog Breeders Association show in Belgium. Ellul, handling Drago, won a second place medal.
“Behavioral analysis of Curtis shows that he is ‘dangerous’ and very badly trained,” the newly released veterinary report also confirmed, citing “an unnatural training which is mistreatment.”
ANIMALS 24-7 on November 25, 2019 likewise published particulars of how Ellul and Pilarski exercised Ellul’s pit bulls Curtis, Drago, Chivas, and Lady in the Retz Forest, plus Ice, a pit bull who arrived with Pilarski.
Cell phone video showed training
The Retz Forest is about an hour’s drive north of Paris and half an hour north of Charles de Gaul International Airport, where Ellul has worked since approximately 2002. The Retz Forest surrounds the village of Villers-Cotterêts.
The slightly bigger village of Saint-Pierre-Aigle, where Ellul and Pilarski lived, lies just north of the forest, south of the ancient city of Soissons and the Aisne river.
A hunting preserve since 1214, the 50-square-mile Retz Forest is reputedly the largest intact patch of old growth in northern France.
Cell phone video posted to Facebook by Ellul and Pilarski showed the pit bulls leaping to swing by their jaws while snatching lures or bite toys suspended from ropes hung over tree limbs; jumping and scrambling up the side of a shed almost to the roof to grab a similar target; running on a treadmill; weight pulling; and being worked on leashes, possibly seeking the burrows of wild boar.
“There is no longer any Elisa Pilarski mystery”
“The dog Curtis was the sole perpetrator of the bites that caused the death,” the veterinary report pronounced and the DNA test results affirmed. “The identifiable bites are compatible with the jawbone of Curtis alone, and not of hunting dogs,” the veterinary report said.
The DNA test results found only Curtis’ DNA on Pilarski’s remains.
Said attorney Guillaume Demarcq, representing Le Rallye de la Passion hunting club, to Europe1, “There is no longer any Elisa Pilarski mystery. Elisa Pilarski was killed by Curtis, after Curtis removed his own muzzle. There is no more Pilarski case, and there is maybe an Ellul affair,” Desmarcq speculated, since “the way this dog had been trained made him extremely dangerous.”
The behavioral assessment of Curtis was done in Toulouse, near Pilarski’s home town of Rébénacq, by veterinarian Christian Diaz, of Balma. Curtis has been housed under guard at a shelter in Haut-Garonnais, at request of Ellul.
Initially impounded at the Clara Foundation in Beauvais, Oise, sixty miles west of where Pilarski died, Curtis was transferred after injuring a female volunteer who was escorting him to visit the Clara Foundation veterinarian. Curtis had also injured Ellul himself at the police station that first investigated the attack on Pilarski. The attack on the volunteer came four days later.
“Stop making the dog Curtis the victim”
BFM-TV, also known as Actu Orange, reported that Elisa Pilarski’s family responded to the veterinary report, through attorney Caty Richard, by demanding that pit bull advocates “stop making the dog Curtis the victim.”
“Curtis is not and never was the dog of Elisa Pilarski,” insisted Richard. “Elisa and her companion, Christophe Ellul, had known each other for a short time. She was not there when he trained Curtis,” although the video clips ANIMALS 24-7 discovered suggest otherwise, “never lived with this dog, and according to her mother, it is was probably the first time she had even walked him alone,” which could only be true if handling Curtis in front of the audience and judges at the American Dog Breeders Association show in Belgium on August 17, 2019 was not considered walking him alone.
“I myself received threats,” Richard continued, which said “’If Curtis is euthanized, you die.’ But the life of a dog cannot be put before the life of a young woman who carried a child within her. It is not a question of a life for a life! But justice must continue in serenity.”
“Mass is not said”
Ellul’s attorney, Alexandre Novion, called the veterinary analysis, “An indictment, not an expert report,” contending that “It is very surprising on the part of veterinarians to lead to something so categorical.”
Novion told Agence France Presse that he would seek a second veterinary opinion.
“Contrary to what the opposing party says, mass is not said,” Novion insisted.
67 dogs’ DNA tested
The DNA test results released on November 3, 2020 came from samples taken after the fatal attack on Pilarski from all five of the pit bulls who lived in the Ellul/Pilarski household and from all 62 Poitvin hounds kept by the Rallye la Passion hunt club.
The DNA testing was initially delayed because the cost exceeded the police budget allocated to the case.
By the time more money was made available, the laboratory was overloaded with work resulting from the international COVID-19 outbreak, which has now afflicted 1.4 million people in France, killing more than 37,000.
October 31, 2020 was yet another deadline set by chief investigating judge Soumya Berkane. The day passed without any announcement of results, but the long-awaited findings were released three days later..