More Charges Possible After Marion Woman Dies Of Dog Mauling

Published: May. 18, 2005 at 5:20 PM EDT|Updated: May. 25, 2005 at 10:36 AM EDT
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(MARION, Ind.) -- The death of an 87-year-old woman from injuries suffered in a dog mauling could lead to more serious charges against her daughter and son-in-law.

Julia Beck died Sunday after being hospitalized in Fort Wayne for two weeks with injuries from the dog attack in her Marion home. An autopsy performed Monday showed a preliminary cause of death as loss of blood and trauma from the dog bites, Deputy Police Chief David Day said

Beck's daughter, Linda A. Kitchen, 57, and son-in-law, Michael T. Kitchen, 48, were already jailed on neglect and obstruction of justice charges.

Grant County Prosecutor James Luttrull said his office would need to review the autopsy results before deciding whether any more charges would be filed.

"There could be a murder charge if a case could be made," he said Tuesday. "The neglect charge is a very serious charge. I am not inclined to believe that anyone intentionally or recklessly caused this death."

A Grant Superior Court judge set a Sept. 19 trial for the Kitchens, who originally told police officers that a stray Rottweiler and another dog entered through a slightly ajar door and attacked Beck on May 1 in her home about 50 miles southwest of Fort Wayne.

After an extensive search for the dogs, police investigators concluded that the canines that mauled Beck belonged to the Kitchens.

They both have been charged with neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injury, two counts of obstruction of justice and false informing. The most serious charge of neglect carries a six- to 20-year prison term.

The couple destroyed evidence, including clothing Beck was wearing and dog feces from the property, court documents said. Beck had been sitting in a wheelchair attached to an oxygen machine to help her breathe when she was attacked, police said

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)