WAYNESVILLE, Ohio – A woman bitten to death by one or both of her pet Great Danes had alcoholism and may not have been clear-headed enough to seek help after she was attacked, authorities said.
Preliminary findings indicate Mary Matthews, 49, apparently bled to death, said Doyle Burke, chief investigator with the Warren County coroner’s office in Ohio.
The dogs were known to be aggressive and had bitten people before, authorities said. Her husband, Mark Matthews, said that he and his wife bought the dogs for $25 from a family about two years ago and that one had bitten him recently.
“They were both bite risks,” he told the Associated Press in an interview Tuesday. “And I told my wife I didn’t want either one of them because I’m not a Great Dane fan anyway, but she wanted to rescue them, so I let her go ahead and get them.”
The smaller of the two Great Danes was more aggressive, Mark Matthews said, and he would “beat him over the head” with a baseball bat if he got too aggressive with his wife.
“I wouldn’t hit him hard; I would just keep him back,” he said. “You know, keep him from attacking Mary, and I’d get him outside.”
Both Great Danes – one of the largest breeds of dog but known for a generally docile temperament – have been euthanized.
Mark Matthews, who had been in the county jail since Oct. 30 for what he described as being behind on child support payments, found her body Friday upon returning to the couple’s home south of Dayton, authorities said. Police didn’t specify when they believe the attack occurred.
The woman was found in the bathroom, and blood was throughout the home along with bloody clothing and towels, police said. The dogs were outside on the fenced deck, and Mark Matthews theorized his wife was able to push them outside before collapsing in the bathroom.
The coroner will make the final determination on the cause of death.
Mary Matthews had alcoholism, and her husband told authorities she also consumed prescription medicines, the police report said.
She “may not have been in a clear-minded state to judge the severity of her situation and thus failed to call for help,” according to the police report.
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