The owner of a pair of dogs that fatally mauled a Dayton woman was released from jail Sunday night, two days after the vicious attack.
Even though dog owner Julie Custer, 25, and Andrew Nason, 28, both of Dayton, were released from the Montgomery County Jail, Dayton Police Lt. Wendy Stiver said they were being let go “pending additional investigation.” She declined to elaborate on what additional information police were seeking against the pair.
Nason and Custer were arrested Friday and initially charged with reckless homicide after the two mixed-breed dogs killed neighbor Klonda Richey, 57, and left her body naked outside her East Bruce Avenue home. The dogs were registered to Custer, according to county records, and Nason lived with her. The dogs were shot and killed Friday after they charged police officers investigating Richey’s death.
Friends and co-workers of Richey expressed outrage that enough was not done to assist her with the problems she told them she had with her neighbors and their dogs. They said for the past three years, Richey told them she lived in fear of the dogs, especially that they would harm her cats, and grew frustrated she could not get help from various public agencies.
‘Terrified of those dogs’
Richey ended up installing security cameras on the front and side of her house to monitor her neighbors and their dogs, said Tim Bridwell, a friend and co-worker at the Montgomery County Job & Family Services.
“She’s always been terrified of those dogs,” said Bridwell, who lives two blocks from Richey.
He said Richey told him and others she made phone calls to the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center to complain about the dogs running around the neighborhood.
The center’s director, Mark Kumpf, told the newspaper his office received nine complaints about the two dogs being at-large, but details about their investigation have not been released. The newspaper has requested the public records related to the dog complaints, and Kumpf said they are not yet available.
Bridwell said Richey eventually built a tall wooden fence to keep the dogs out of her yard and to shield herself from her neighbors. Richey complained the neighbors would yell obscenities at her and threaten her cats, he and other friends said.
Within the past six months, Richey hired two different contractors to build the fence, but neither completed the job. Bridwell said Richey told him her neighbor had scared the contractors into abandoning the project, so she was forced to finished the fence herself.
Bridwell said Richey tried unsuccessfully to seek protection from the dogs and her neighbors through the legal system. “She said, ‘I just feel like nobody believes me, and I’m the crazy cat lady,’” he said.
He said Richey’s greatest fears resulted in her tragic death by the dogs outside her home. “She told me, and a lot of other people, she was afraid those dogs were going to kill her,” Bridwell said. “And they did.”
The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office said Sunday Richey’s cause of death remained undetermined.
WHIO-TV went to the jail Sunday night to speak to Custer and Nason, but the pair had already been released.
Richey’s brother and sister, who both live out of state, could not be reached for comment, and funeral arrangements have not been announced.
Tension over cats and dogs
Bridwell said the tensions between Richey and her neighbors developed because of her cats. Animal control officers removed 20 cats from Richey’s home Friday, and said they were well-cared for by their owner.
Richey dedicated her life to rescuing animals, according to her friends and co-workers. Since she saw herself as a rescuer, she bought a second home to house about five dozen more cats. Friends said she had about 60 cats between her two houses. It was not uncommon for her to take in a feral kitten someone else found.
“She had quite a few cats and quite a few of her cats were indoor/outdoor cats,” Bridwell said. “(Her neighbor) was mad because sometimes they would come in his yard and that started the whole fiasco.”
Bridwell said Richey told him her neighbor would let out the dogs to harass her.
“Most of us that worked in the building had heard her story complaining about her neighbor, his girlfriend and the dogs,” Bridwell said.
“She absolutely loved her cats, and they loved her. She spent a fortune taking care of these sick cats. Every one of them had a name.”
Josie Olsvig, another of Richey’s friends and co-workers, said she and Richey shared a love for cats.
“Our common ground was cats,” Olsvig said. “We used to foster mom cats in the spring when they would have kittens … she was our guru for medical care on cats.”
Bridwell added, “this was her life — these cats.”