HAMLET — Police have had little luck finding the relatives of a man mauled to death by his dogs Saturday. The closest they have come is the children next door, one of whom tried to save the man and all of whom called him “grandpa.”
Police Chief Scott Waters said Monday that investigators had checked with the Adult Services division of the Richmond County Department of Social Services, the Veterans Administration and Walmart, from which the man was supposed to have retired. All of the inquiries came up empty.
Police theorize they can find relatives if the man made a will and if it was filed with the county. That could lead them to an attorney who might know something. But it’s a long shot.
“I’ve never seen anything like it … in my whole career,” said Waters, who was at the man’s house at 308 W. Hamlet Ave. in the wake of the attack. “We’re running into a lot of obstacles” and may have to release the man’s name in order to find his relatives.
What Waters does know is that “that little kid’s a hero.” Nine-year-old Kanorie Parnell was in the yard with his neighbor when the man was attacked.
“I threw bricks at the dogs to try and get them off of him,” Kanorie said Saturday, as police and sheriff’s officers worked to corral the dogs. “Only they wouldn’t get off of him. “They bit his neck” and bloodied the man’s head, Kanorie said.
Kanorie jumped over the fence into his own yard when he saw his efforts were futile.
Waters said Monday that “I just thank God above that the dogs didn’t turn on (Kanorie).”
Kanorie’s mother, April, said Saturday that her family and the neighbor had become like family. He took her children to the bus stop in the morning and escorted them home after school. They all ate meals together sometimes. She said the man was 69 and had a daughter who lived elsewhere.
Last Friday, Waters saw the man with one of Kanorie’s siblings — he was taking the child home from a neighborhood park. When Waters talked with the man, the child alongside him called him “grandpa.”
“It’s a hard thing to deal with,” Waters said of his own response to the death. To see the man being so kind to a child one day and dead the next was difficult, he said.
The deceased had five dogs, which he walked every morning.
Early Saturday, two of the dogs — a black-and-white pit bull and another dog — got into a fight. The owner broke them apart, throwing punches.
Later, when the man went back into the yard, the dogs attacked.
Hamlet Police and Richmond County sheriff’s deputies corralled the pit bull but had to leave the man lying in the yard, under a sheet, until they could be sure where the other dogs were. At one point, they thought about closing off the street, in case they needed to shoot the second dog.
About 45 minutes after bringing out the pit bull, officers brought the dead man out on a stretcher.
By 3:30 p.m., all of the dogs had been captured and been taken to the Richmond County Animal Shelter.
Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673.