Posted by: Loren Coleman on August 18th, 2009
“The mauling deaths of a retired UGA (University of Georgia) professor and his wife, a longtime librarian at the university, are almost as mysterious as they are tragic,” noted reporter Christian Boone of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The elderly couple were killed by something on Saturday, August 15, 2009, on a rural road near Lexington, Georgia.
Authorities made up their minds what animals killed the couple, almost instantly. It was the usual suspects. Various wild mixed-breed dogs, some reports say a dozen, others say 15, were found standing over the slain couple when the coroner arrived at the scene on Saturday, noted such media outlets including WBS radio and the Associated Press.
“They were not aggressive whatsoever,” said James Matthews, coroner for Oglethorpe County. “I guess that’s what makes the attack so hard to figure out.”
What evidence have law enforcement personnel used as the basis for their finding that dogs did it?
Preliminary autopsy results show 77-year-old Lothar Karl Schweder and his 65-year-old wife, Sherry, died of injuries related to multiple animal bites.
Authorities say it appears Sherry Schweder was attacked as she walked on a dirt road near her house, looking for one of her own six dogs. It appears her husband later went looking for her and was also attacked. Their mutilated bodies were found by a pair of visiting Jehovah’s Witnesses about 12 hours after the Schweders went missing.
“Evidently, they were out on this side road, Howard Thaxton Road, and they were attacked by a group of dogs and was mutilated by them,” said Oglethorpe County Sheriff Mike Smith. “We got the findings of the autopsy on the woman and they said that she died from dog bites. They completed the male’s autopsy and they said it was dog bites. There was a group of dogs. We don’t know exactly who is the actual owner. They’re feral dogs and they were running straight down here on Howard Thaxton Road.”
Eleven dogs were rounded up on Monday and sheriff’s department personnel returned to the area Tuesday to find four more dogs spotted by a deputy. Authorities from Oglethorpe and Madison counties rounded up the dogs who will more than likely eventually be euthanized.
Lanier Bridges who lives on Elberton Road a few houses away from the Schweders’ home, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution the mixed-breed dogs “have been around for years. We never had a problem with them.”
The account seems to raise several questions. Has there been a rush to judgement on the part of authorities? Could some as yet-unidentified animal killed the Schweders, and only the evidence of post-attack dog bites from the feral dog pack been found on the bodies? Was a verdict against the non-aggressive dogs found at the scene too quickly brought forth?
The Humane Society says federal statistics show an average of 16 people die each year from dog bites.