When two dogs fatally mauled David Robert Baber, 65, in his backyard on Nov. 4, the death marked only the beginning of a perplexing and emotional case for Hamlet police.
The mauling occurred on a Saturday, as Baber’s 9-year-old neighbor stood nearby. The child threw bricks at the dogs, trying feverishly to stop their attack, but gave up and hopped the fence into his own yard when his efforts proved futile.
“I threw bricks at the dogs to try and get them off of him,” Kanorie Parnell said after the attack. “Only they wouldn’t get off of him.
“They bit his neck. He’s got a hole in it.”
Police and fire officials were on the scene within minutes but couldn’t remove Baber’s body from the yard because the two dogs still were out there. They corralled the animals within hours, but the effort to notify Baber’s relatives was just beginning.
After more than a week had passed without finding any next of kin, frustrated police released Baber’s name and photo. Even so, they got no leads.
In mid-November, Hamlet detective Lt. Richard Jordan cracked open a safe found in Baber’s home — he first had to make sure it was Baber’s and not the landlord’s — and found a family tree made by Baber’s sister. The document showed family in Detroit.
Jordan’s first call to Detroit police revealed a brother who had moved to Virginia. Jordan called the brother and, eventually, Baber’s father in Florida. The father identified Baber’s photo as that of his son, saying the news had made him frantic because it had been so long since their last visit.
Days after the breakthrough, Baber’s brother arranged for the victim’s cremation, then came to Hamlet to pick up Baber’s remains.
Baber’s six dogs — the two killers and four that remained in the house during the attack — all were euthanized.
Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.