Pit bull owner Christophe Ellul “has to recognize that it was his dog,” says Nathalie Pilarski.
PARIS, France––The Amiens Court of Appeal is to rule on July 23, 2021 on a petition from attorney Alexandre Novion, representing pit bull owner Christophe Ellul, seeking to suppress DNA evidence that Ellul’s pit bull Curtis, and Curtis alone, killed Ellul’s companion Elisa Pilarski on November 16, 2019, in the Retz Forest near Ellul’s home.
Pilarski, who had moved in with Ellul just nine days earlier, was six months pregnant.
Ellul, 46, was on March 4, 2021 indicted for manslaughter by Soissons prosecutor Julien Morino-Ros.
“It was not he who killed Elisa; it was his dog”
With much of France and indeed, the world, closely following what may be the highest-profile dog attack fatality ever, Pilarski’s mother Nathalie Pilarski on July 4, 2021 “testified for the first time in front of the cameras of Seven to Eight,” reported Pauline Weiss for Marie Claire.
Seven to Eight is the leading televised news magazine program broadcast in France; Marie Claire is a women’s magazine published since 1937 in France and since 1941 in an English edition.
Said Nathalie Pilarski, “We can all make mistakes, and I know very well that it was not he who killed Élisa; it was his dog. He has to recognize that it was his dog,” whom Ellul imported from the Netherlands with paperwork identifying the pit bull Curtis as a Patterdale terrier, weighing approximately half as much.
“I know 100% that he’s innocent”
Argued Ellul on Seven to Eight in January 2020, “If Curtis was mean, it would have happened before. I know 100% that he’s innocent. He’s my dog, he was our dog. He was Elisa’s dog.”
Ellul has maintained ever since the fatal attack, which reportedly left Elisa Pilarski naked, partially dismembered, with her belly torn open, that he and Curtis have been framed.
Ellul, other pit bull advocates, and hunting opponents including former actress Brigitte Bardot, 86, initially insisted that Elisa 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, who were released into the Retz Forest to hunt deer ahead of club members on horseback, among them the local chief of police.
DNA indicts Curtis, clears other dogs
There is, however, no record of Poitevin hounds ever killing a human, and the hounds were released about half an hour to an hour after forensic examination indicates that Pilarski died.
Neither was DNA from any of the 62 Rallye de la Passion, nor from any of Ellul’s four other pit bulls, found on Pilarski’s remains.
Two court-appointed veterinarians testified that Curtis was “the only author of the bites that caused the death,” adding that the attack was the result of “unnatural” training, ostensibly for competition in weight-pulling, climbing, and conformation, which “shaped in Curtis a behavior of predation diverted from purpose.”
“The vets established with certainty,” the Paris radio station FranceBleu reported, “that Curtis is indeed a pit bull,” who was “illegally imported, with forged documents.”
ANIMALS 24-7 identified the breeder first
This confirmed details of Curtis’ origin discovered by ANIMALS 24-7 researcher Beth Clifton and initially published on November 25, 2019.
Both Curtis and Drago, another of Ellul’s pit bulls, ANIMALS 24-7 reported, are pedigreed two-year-old American pit bull terriers apparently bred by Sharon De Wit of Hitam Kennel in the Netherlands. Curtis was originally named Dark Midnight.
Said Nathalie Pilarski in her July 4, 2021 interview on Seven to Eight, “Ellul made himself out to be the victim by saying that everyone was against him. He hammered at us that it was all corruption, that it was the hunters’ fault, that it was a conspiracy, that the hunters had something to do with it, that because of their money, we could not do anything, that we would never know the truth.”
“The way Curtis was trained is in itself abuse”
Responded Rallye de la Passion lawyer Guillaume Demarcq to the Hauts-de-France television program, a rival of Seven to Eight, “Ellul knew very well why he went to look for Curtis in the Netherlands at a breeder of pit bull fighting dogs. Ellul trained Curtis in conditions which were likely to create a danger.
“The way Curtis was trained is in itself abuse,” Demarcq contended. “It is clearly this training that is at the origin of the drama. If Curtis is in France, it is only Christophe Ellul’s fault and if the dog killed, it is his fault.”
Amid the drama, a Dutch source, whom ANIMALS 24-7 identified but agreed not to name, emailed to ANIMALS 24-7, “I am a [former] neighbor of Sharon De Wit, the woman who illegally sold Curtis to [Christophe Ellul and] Elisa Pilarski in 2019, who ultimately killed her.”
The transaction reportedly occurred in Stavenisse, Zeeland, a town of fewer than 1,500 people. A small port, Stavenisse is ironically best known for the 1686 wreck off the Natal coast of South Africa of a Dutch East India Company ship named after the town.
Dutch witness testifies
“I would like to tell a bit more about what I know and what I saw during the almost four years that Sharon De Wit and her partner lived in our neighborhood,” the Dutch source said.
“I think it is important that we know what role this woman played in this scenario and to warn people about the dangers of fraudulent sellers/breeders.
“Sharon and her partner came here around 2016 or 2017,” the Dutch source narrated.
“With them moved in a pair of dogs, but since I am not very good with dogs, I cannot say which breed they were at the time. At first it seemed like they were just dog lovers who found a quiet place to live.”
“They also bred dogs”
Soon, however, the Dutch source wrote, “It became apparent that they also bred dogs. After a while more dogs started to appear, seemingly out of nowhere, and in a couple of months the house was filled with an entire horde of dogs that we could hear barking, howling, and whimpering all day long.
“I want to note here,” the Dutch source mentioned, “that although we live in a small rural town, the houses themselves are in a row with just a garden to accommodate an animal. Some people here have one dog or maybe two dogs, but not an entire pack.
“As soon as the couple moved in, cages were made,” the Dutch source continued. “To me it resembled something like Guantanamo Bay. It seemed that for a short period the dogs were put in these cages, but later they were moved into a shed, which in the summer would get very hot and during winter would be pretty cold.
“We could hear Sharon De Wit scream”
“From the sounds that we and other neighbors could hear, it did not seem as if the dogs were enjoying their stay at Sharon De Wit’s house. A number of complaints were made by other [village] residents regarding the noise.
“On certain occasions,” the Dutch source said, “we could hear Sharon De Wit scream not only at the dogs but also at her partner. It became clear to me that they were breeding and selling dogs when random people started to arrive at the house. One of these people was Elisa Pilarski, who bought Curtis from De Wit. I can remember it like it was yesterday when that French car arrived and Pilarski and her husband [Ellul] got out to retrieve the dog.”
The French blogger “Benoit Blanc,” who uses the name of the fictional detective in the 2019 film Knives Out, pointed out to ANIMALS 24-7 that the Dutch witness appears to have confused Elisa Pilarski with Aurélie Peyrellade-Ellul, Christophe Ellul’s former wife, since “Curtis was bought in 2018, when Christophe Ellul didn’t know Elisa.”
According to “Benoit Blanc,” Christophe Ellul “went to pick up Curtis alone in April 2018.” But, said Benoit Blanc,” Ellul “had visited the kennel with his wife a few weeks before.”
“Of course we know what happened to Pilarski later that year [actually the next year],” the Dutch source wrote. “However, everyone seemed to miss another detail in this regard.
Brawl over a dog deal
“A couple of years ago, I believe in 2018, a big Audi stopped in front of the house with an English license plate,” the Dutch source recounted.
“A wealthy-looking man got out of the car and went into the house of Sharon De Wit. Apparently this man bought a pit bull from Sharon De Wit. He later moved to another country for a limited amount of time, and actually gave the dog to De Wit to be taken care of until he would return. “When this man did return, De Wit had sold the dog. The man was incredibly angry about this and took three other men with him to this quiet town in order to get his dog back.
“De Wit then tried to give a random dog to him,” the Dutch source said. “One of the other neighbors, a close associate of De Wit, started to get involved and got hit by a baseball bat by one of the men who came to retrieve the dogs. They [apparently De Wit and the man who was hit with the bat] called the police and the men were arrested on the outskirts of town.
“All of this happened very late at night when I was asleep, but the next day the news came out about what happened.”
The Voice says…
By this time the Dutch source and relatives of the source within the community “suspected that De Wit did not just sell dogs to owners who were looking for a pet, but to anyone who would pay top dollar for them,” including people using the dogs for illegal purposes.
The Dutch source provided a link, https://www.bndestem.nl/tholen/amsterdammer-vrijgesproken-van-afpersing-pitbullfokster-uit-stavenisse~a68cb09d/, to a June 6, 2021 article from the Dutch newspaper BN DeStem, [The Voice] headlined [in translation] “Amsterdammer acquitted of attempting to extort pit bull breeder from Stavenisse.”
According to that account, “Three years ago, De la C. was suspected of forcing a dog breeder in Stavenisse to give him a dog – a pit bull. His cousin CM (30) from Uithoorn and his Amsterdam friend SE (26), who would have provided assistance, were acquitted [with him],” of related charges, after the prosecutor sought sentences of from eight to twelve months in prison for all three.
“Mixed & contradictory” statements
Said BN DeStem, “De la C. bought a young pit bull from the breeder, went abroad, and boarded the dog with the breeder. When he returned to the Netherlands, the pit bull, trained for shows, turned out to have been sold as a fighting dog. De la C. wanted his dog back and drove with M. and E. to Stavenisse. He demanded and got a dog as collateral. When the three were outside again, a neighbor interfered and some scuffle ensued, in which the neighbor was allegedly beaten with a baseball bat.”
The court ruled, however, that “It was impossible to determine exactly what had happened in the house. The breeder’s statements were mixed and contradictory and according to the court, there was also no question of extortion, because the woman had handed over the dog herself. The court also found that the blow with a baseball bat that the neighbor had received was not proven,” because the alleged victim “was drunk and did not even know afterward that he had been beaten.”
What became of the other pit bulls?
According to the blogger “Benoit Blanc,” as of June 22, 2021, “Christophe Ellul has begun a new life in Lys, near Rébenacq, where Elisa Pilarski and her unborn son are buried, and near Artigueloutan, where Elisa worked, and where her mare Hoja is kept.”
Elisa Pilarski’s pit bull Ice, whom “Benoit Blanc” identified as stable and well-trained, apparently also remains in the community.
“Drago, Curtis’ brother, was left with Sharon de Wit, his breeder in the Netherlands,” continued “Benoit Blanc.”
“Chivas,” another of Ellul’s pit bulls, was “returned to the Netherlands with his breeder Marco de Kruijk,” said “Benoit Blanc.”
Two other pit bulls formerly kept by Christophe Ellul appear to be unaccounted for.
Curtis remains impounded
Ellul has, however, acquired a Saint Bernard, said “Benoit Blanc,” who added “It should be noted that Christophe Ellul is not the owner of the Saint Bernard.”
Curtis, continued “Benoit Blanc,” remains at the Animal Center of Bonrepos-sur-Aussonnelle, near Toulouse, “awaiting the end of the judicial investigation,” at which time he is likely to be euthanized.
Initially impounded at the Clara Foundation in Beauvais, Oise, sixty miles west of where Pilarski died, Curtis was transferred after injuring a female volunteer.
Curtis also reportedly injured Ellul himself at the police station that first investigated the attack on Pilarski. The attack on the volunteer came four days later.
“Elisa’s name is gradually disappearing,” finished “Benoit Blanc,” except that “In Rébenacq, and in Artigueloutan, we do not forget, and we wait.”
Susan C. McDonough says
I have investigated dog fighting cases for over 20 years as a police officer. Just as a Border Collie is “bred” to herd, pit bulls are used for fighting. They are bred to be animal aggressive; they don’t require training.
Reputable dog breeders will spay or neuter an aggressive collie or other breed that is to be used for a pet. Pit bull breeders will take the most aggressive puppy in the litter, and that puppy is the one who they use for breeding and inbreeding. Too many of these dogs wind up in shelters only to be adopted out to unknowing people who either suffer the consequences, or a neighbor does; after a child, adult, or family pet is attacked.