Raelynn Larrison death on New Year’s Eve warrants further in-depth investigation
DAYTON, Ohio––The year 2020 ended as it began in Dayton, Ohio, with a pit bull killing the four-month-old daughter of a mother with drug issues while a parent slept nearby.
The differences between the December 31, 2020 death of Raelynn Larrison, to date the last reported dog-inflicted death of the year, and the January 9, 2020 death of McKenzie Terwell, the second of the year, tend to accentuate the similarities.
A 911 call at about 7:00 p.m. on New Year’s Eve brought first responders to the battered 112-year-old home where Raelynn Larrison’s father told the dispatcher that “The puppy was lying on her and I just now noticed it.”
“My baby ain’t breathing”
“She’s not breathing. My baby ain’t breathing,” the caller said, reportedly “sobbing and begging for help to arrive.”
The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office and 911 dispatchers declined to “confirm whether or not the incident was the result of an attack,” said WHIO News Center 7.
“An autopsy will be performed, and the baby’s death is under investigation by the Dayton Police Department,” added Dayton News writers Jen Balduf and Kristen Spicker.
Father is pit bull breeder
The Montgomery County Animal Resource center––which has a long history of pit bull advocacy––did not identify the breed of dog involved.
The father who made the 911 call appears to have been self-identified “American bully” pit bull breeder and also self-identified marijuana dealer Robert Larrison.
Usually called Rob, Larrison is also known online as “Rob N. Ryan,” “Ryan Larrison,” and by the Facebook name “Rob Oliver Closeoff,” or simply “Oliver Closeoff.”
The “American bully” is a squatty short-legged pit bull variant bred to accentuate muscularity, increasingly popular and increasingly often involved in fatal attacks in recent years, especially on small children.
“American bully” is a squatty pit bull variant
Larrison, 35, in what appeared to be his first Facebook posting on December 31, 2020 after his youngest daughter’s death thanked friends or relatives for taking care of two of his older daughters, among four, the oldest of whom appears to be barely school-age.
“I’m so lost right now,” Larrison posted in his “Oliver Closeoff” persona.
But Larrison may soon be a lot more lost, for a very long time, if Montgomery County law enforcement follows up and effectively responds to the same string of leads that ANIMALS 24-7 investigator Beth Clifton, a former Miami Beach, Florida police officer, discovered within 48 hours of Raelynn Larrison’s somewhat mysterious death.
Only the third such death reported in 38 years
The mystery is what really happened, in view that only two of the 856 deaths caused by dogs in the U.S. and Canada since 1982 have been attributed to dogs suffocating infants without mauling them.
Both of the others, oddly enough, occurred near Dayton.
Jonathon Chandler, 6 months, of Lancaster, Ohio, about 100 miles east of Dayton, was reportedly crushed in bed on January 20, 2000 by the family Rottweiler.
Four other children, ages 2-11, were removed from home of Chandler’s mother Shelly Fisher. The case was investigated, but not prosecuted, as a possible negligent homicide.
On May 15, 2005, in Lockland, Ohio, 56 miles south of Dayton, prematurely born one-month-old Maria Statzer was found to have been smothered by the family pit bull while lying on a living sofa as her mother, Sarah Statzer, worked nearby in their kitchen.
Larrison & Samantha Jo Slaven
The chain of circumstances leading to the Raelynn Larrison death appears to have begun as long as eight years earlier, on August 9, 2013, when Rob Larrison demonstrated an affinity for “bully breeds” by posting a photo of himself sprawling on a bed with a mastiff almost as big as he is.
Unclear is whether Rob Larrison, originally from Philadelphia, was already involved with Samantha Jo Slaven. Slaven, 29, originally from Cincinnati, is mother of Raelynn Larrison and three of his other daughters.
Their first known photo together was taken on July 24, 2014, when Larrison was 29 and Slaven was 23.
Rob Larrison during the next several years held a variety of jobs as a housepainter and handyman in the Dayton area.
Slaven, who seems to change her appearance by dyeing her hair about as often as Larrison changes names, also appears to have held miscellaneous jobs in between raising the daughters.
Theft & dope dealing
Samantha Jo Slaven, according to court records, was between 2011 and 2015 charged repeatedly with traffic offenses including failure to yield the right-of-way when turning onto a highway, speeding, following too closely, improperly turning on a red light, failure to yield to oncoming traffic when turning left, driving with expired plates, and driving while her license was under suspension.
Just after this time frame, on October 13, 2016, a Samantha Lee Slaven who is within less than a year of the same age, but is apparently not the same person, was jailed and charged in Cincinnati with both misdemeanor and fourth degree felony theft, receiving stolen property, and driving with a suspended license.
ANIMALS 24-7 initially had the identities of the two Samantha Slavens crossed, but Samantha Jo Slaven eventually furnished information that permitted distinguishing their records.
“Rob Oliver Closeoff” meanwhile emerged circa 2015 as an alter ego for Rob Larrison.
As “Rob Oliver Closeoff,” Larrison claimed to have lived in Bogota, Columbia, a city often associated with international cocaine smuggling, and to have attended Oregon State University, despite a preponderance of posted evidence that his command of written and spoken language would not qualify him to pass university entrance examinations.
On December 31, 2016, four years to the day before Raelynn Larrison was killed by a pit bull, “Closeoff” posted photographs of a pile of U.S. currency partially covering a plastic baggie of marijuana.
A February 11, 2018 photograph of “Closeoff” holding up marijuana baggies reprised the theme.
“We brag different because we bag different”
Larrison, again in his “Rob Oliver Closeoff” persona, in March 2020 posted video of himself shooting craps for small change, offering to sell a 1911 vintage handgun, and finally showing off multiple marijuana products packaged to be sold.
“Who wants to buy some diamonds this morning?” Larrison chanted, in front of his children, whose voices were audible in the background. “Packages just touched down,” Larrison continued. “Got another shipment of Cali diamonds. Come and shop with your boy one time. Come and let me put it in your life.”
Larrison posted a similar video circa Thanksgiving 2020. “We brag different because we bag different,” Larrison claimed as “Closeoff,” displaying money and marijuana.
“I hope your wife dies”
By this time the “Rob Oliver Closeoff” social media persona had at least since April 30, 2020 offered frequent links to the web sites of pit bull breeders from Alabama, California, and elsewhere in Ohio, advertisements for “bully breed” shows, and videos of his daughters roughhousing with pit bulls, interspersed with racist comments and endorsements of the Donald Trump re-election campaign, although Larrison does not appear to have registered to vote.
“Closeoff,” beginning on May 4, 2020, complained extensively that he and a partner had paid a sum varying in ensuing postings between $14,000 and $30,000 for pit bulls from Spain who were never delivered.
During the next three days “Closeoff” threatened online to stab and shoot the Spanish pit bull seller, “hit his ass like a fish,” and said to him “I hope your wife dies.”
The Spanish seller in turn asserted that “Closeoff” had never actually paid him.
Apparently recovering from that debacle, “Closeoff” boasted of having raised nine litters of French bulldogs, and appears to have exhibited an “American bully” at a show on July 25, 2020.
On December 3, 2020, “Closeoff” posted beneath a photo of a different “American bully” that “I think this is just going be best pups ever I wish this Biabia hurry and go in to heat yeah this bout be some shit right here for the books Reid Brickline number one bull yeti x canela Bullseye x spit should be some fuckin freaky freaks.”
Reid Brickline breeds “Brickline Bullies” in Lake Elsinore, California.
But all was not well at home, Facebook postings from both Samantha Jo Slaven and “Closeoff” indicate, especially after the September 2020 birth of Raelynn Larrison.
“She’s old enough to be your daughter”
“Closeoff” on October 6, 2020 announced that he was “In a domestic partnership with Rec Marie,” below photos showing an “American bully” pit bull and a heavily made up young woman with a two-tone blue-and-auburn hair.
That was three days after “Rec Marie,” who acknowledged having three children, announced she was “In an open relationship,” provoking Facebook discussion in which a “Rebecca Marie” claimed to be the mother of a son by “Closeoff,” and alleged that he had seven children altogether.
Slaven appeared to respond on December 11, 2020, writing “I’m sorry but if ur 35+ wtf are u doing with an 18 year old y’all sick af in the head like real sick! She’s old enough to be ur daughter sicko! I kill anyone that ever tried this shit with my girls guess some people really don’t give af! Guess they will take anything they can get!”
“Keep a lookout for my two dogs”
Despite all that, Slaven visibly shocked many of her social media friends just a week later, posting on December 17, 2020 that she was again “In a Relationship with Rob Oliver Closeoff.”
Eleven days after that, on December 28, 2020, having posted very little about her daughters at Christmas, Samantha Slaven asked social media contacts to, “Everyone please share and keep a lookout for my two dogs,” named Marshall and Vera, “that got out my backyard today off findlay and third st and haven’t returned home please lmk if u have seen them thank you.”
The intersection of South Findlay and Third Steet, Dayton, is one block from where Raelynn Larrison died three days later.
Where Samantha Slaven was when her youngest daughter died––and, for that matter, where she has been since––is unknown.
Deja vu, Dayton style
Four-month-old McKenzie Terwell, daughter of Parker Terwell, 21, and Mary Shoup, 23, was fatally mauled late on January 9, 2020, a little less than two and a half miles away, by one of several pit bulls reportedly kept at the family home.
Dayton Violent Crime Bureau commander Jason Hall told media that, as WTDN News summarized, “According to a 911 call, a parent [Terwell] had returned home [from work] to find the baby on the floor and not breathing. The parent also told the dispatcher a family member [Shoup] was supposed to be watching the girl.”
Dayton Daily News reporter Parker Perry mentioned on January 15, 2020 that Shoup “was sleeping on a couch, possibly after taking prescription medication.”
A police search warrant affidavit, Perry said, identified the prescriptions as Alprazolam, Bupropion and Sertalian, with known side effects including drowsiness, cognitive dysfunction and insomnia.
Tossed a bong
“Also,” Perry wrote, “the affidavit says officers were told by Parker Terwell that he had thrown a marijuana bong in the kitchen trashcan before police arrived.”
McKenzie Terwell was the sixth dog attack fatality since 2012 within the territory served by the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center; Raelynn Larrison was the seventh.
The first five occurred during the tenure of former Animal Resource Center director Mark Kumpf, who had two more dog attack fatalities on his watch than any other animal control director in U.S. history.
Former animal control director Kumpf disabled Ohio law
Three of the five dog attack fatalities involved pit bull-type dogs who had been subject of previous complaints to the Animal Resource Center. All five came after Kumpf, working closely with the pro-pit bull Animal Farm Foundation and Best Friends Animal Society, used his influence as a longtime board member with both the National Animal Control Association and the Ohio Dog Wardens Association to help win the May 2012 repeal of an Ohio state law recognizing “any breed commonly known as a pit bull dog” as inherently vicious.
This leaves Ohio cities and towns unable to take effective action to prevent pit bull attacks before they happen––especially when, as in the cases of Raelynn Larrison and McKenzie Terwell, the pit bulls are not known to have prior attack history.
Fired by the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners on December 14, 2018, Kumpf has since September 23, 2019 been animal control director for the city of Detroit.
At least 49 people killed by dogs in U.S. & Canada during 2020
Raelynn Larrison was the 49th person killed by dogs in the U.S. and Canada during 2020, and the 37th known to have been killed by pit bulls.
Five victims of unwitnessed pack attacks might also have been pit bull victims.
Three victims were killed by mastiffs, two by Malinois, one by a German shepherd, and one by the owner’s own dog of unidentified breed.
ANIMALS 24-7 will post the complete list of victims of fatalities and an updated table showing disfiguring injuries inflicted on humans by breed and age of victim as soon as possible, after making every effort to confirm the details of cases for which we currently lack complete information.