Dec 01, 2009 Flora, Illinois Woman Killed in American Pit Bull Terrier Attack

FLORA PD, JOHN NICHOLSON, CHIEF: The incident that occurred on November 30th at 235 Austin Avenue in Flora has devastated several families. This was a very tragic event for not only the families involved, but the neighborhood a well.

Rosie L. Humphreys, 85, of 235 Austin Avenue Flora, Illinois was not only a citizen of Flora, but was so much more to so many. After speaking to several neighbors and friends in this neighborhood, it became apparent that Rosie was everybody’s Grandmother within that area. This is exactly why this case is so tragic, as Ms. Humphrey could have been anybody’s grandmother at any town USA.

Before I go into a timeline of the events of November 30th, I would like to clarify some mis-information, clear some dis-information and stop some on going rumors.

The particular breed of the dog involved in the attack was an American Pit Bull Terrier. He was an un-neutered 3 year old male, with full registration. The dog was purchased from a registered breeder at 6 months of age by Brian Pennington of Flora. There is no available information that it had ever been trained by its owner, Brian Pennington to attack or fight in any manner.

The dog was Pennington’s family pet.

The Flora Police Department or the Clay County Health Department Animal Control office have never received a single call as to this particular dog or the owners address at any time.

There has been no documented or reported cases, where this dog has displayed any aggression towards people or other dogs.

The dog did not appear malnourished or abused and had no visible signs of mistreatment.

The dog did not slip its collar, break the chain or dig its way out of the kennel.

The dog according to several neighbors seemed friendly and was not habitually loose.

Based upon witness statements, and several interviews the following time line was established by the Flora Police Department.

November 30th at 11:15 a.m., Mr. Pennington observes his dog chained and secured in the dog kennel area of his back yard from inside his house.

Approximately 2:00 p.m. four different neighbors within the area of Mr. Pennington’s residence observed the dog running loose.

One particular witness was working in his garage when Mr. Pennington’s dog came into the garage with him.

The witness stated the dog acted friendly and showed no signs of aggression. The dog then left the garage.

Of the four witnesses, no reports were called into the Flora Police Department or the Animal Control to report a dog loose in the area.

Approximately 2:16 p.m., Mrs. Humphreys leaves her residence to walk her two dogs, which were poodles.

Shortly thereafter Mrs. Humphreys and her dogs were attacked by Mr. Pennington’s dog. The attack occurred at the end of her driveway and the sidewalk area.

A passerby in the roadway observed the initial attack. The pit bull was observed by this witness to be attacking on of the poodles of which Mrs. Humphreys was trying to protect by pulling her dog up to her chest area, while kicking and striking the pit bull.

The witness had pulled her car over and went to assist Mrs. Humphreys who by this time had fallen on the ground and was now being attacked by the pit bull herself.

The witness yelled out for help and several people then began to assist in the efforts of removing the pit bull off Mrs. Humphreys.

At approximately 2:18 p.m., a call was placed to the Flora Police Department to report this attack.
The pit bull was eventually controlled and first aid was rendered to Mrs. Humphreys unsuccessfully, as she was pronounced dead at the scene.

At this time the Flora Police Department secured the area as a crime scene and began an investigation.

An Illinois State Police Crime Scene Tech was then called to assist in the collection of evidence.
After the collection of evidence and photographs taken, interviews were conducted.

Upon inspection it was determined Mr. Pennington’s dog had gotten loose because the metal “D” ring on its collar failed. Meaning the metal D ring had broken allowing the locked clasp on the chain to fall away from the leather collar.

The collar was a brown leather collar of normal wear and of normal weight for this type of dog. Mr. Pennington’s dog was estimated to weigh approximately 60 pounds.

All available evidence indicates that the factory installed metal “D” ring on the leather collar broke, which released the dog. The metal “D” ring was of normal size for this collar type. The metal appeared normal in wear and condition.

On December 1, 2009 a forensic autopsy was conducted by Dr. John Heidingsfelder at the Clay County Hospital. The preliminary results showed the cause of death was due to Exsanguination, due to transected Carotid Artery, due to bite mark lacerations to the face, neck and extremities. The manner of death was ruled accident.

After careful review of the applicable criminal statutes that could apply to this case and all physical evidence, witness statements, and background investigations, it was determined by the Clay County State’s Attorney’s Office that there will be no criminal charges filed at this time against Mr. Pennington. The case will remain in an open status for an undermined amount of time, so as if factual information or physical evidence is obtained, the case could and will move forward.

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