Police have not been able to identify the dog that attacked a Pantego teacher back in February. The Beaufort County Sherriff’s Office said that Brenda Hamilton was attacked by an animal on February 15 during her normal daily walk.
A family was awakened by their dogs barking by the road where the attack occurred. When the family went to investigate they found their dogs near Hamilton who was lying in a ditch submerged up to her shoulders in water.
EMS personnel arrived and said they found Hamilton suffering from catastrophic injuries to both arms, both legs, and her scalp. Hamilton was transported to Vidant Medical Center where she died days later.
A considerable amount of blood was also found on the road leading Investigators to where Hamilton was found in the ditch.
Deputies said they found a dead nutria near where the attack began. The nutria appeared to be a fresh kill and injuries to it appeared to have been inflicted by another animal.
The two dogs found near Hamilton were examined about an hour after the attack by deputies and Animal Control officers. The dogs had no signs of aggression towards deputies, they were not wet, and there was no visible sign of mud or blood on either dog.
The afternoon of the attack, field tests for blood were performed and both dogs tested positive for trace amounts of human blood on their paws and in their mouth. The dogs were returned to their owners after 10 days of observation.
On the same day of the attack, Wildlife officers took several items of evidence to the forensics lab at Western Carolina University to be tested.
Investigators were told by NC Wildlife Biologist that domestic canine DNA was located on Hamilton’s outer jacket and one of her shoes and based on those test results NC Wildlife would no longer be involved in the investigation. However, on the following Monday, investigators spoke directly with the lab and learned the DNA found during initial testing was likely domestic canine DNA but the testing did not rule out wild canines indigenous to the area.
The day of the attack and the following week, investigators collected 14 DNA samples from domestic canines in area.
During the investigation, investigators learned that Hamilton walked the same route frequently as part of her daily exercise regimen, and it was common for her to be accompanied by domestic dogs in the area, including the two dogs found near her the morning of the attack. Hamilton’s husband reported none of the dogs ever bothered her or displayed any aggression towards her on her daily walks.
After the completion of 49 separate tests Investigators also learned the lab located domestic canine mitochondrial DNA on six other items of evidence, a swab from Hamilton’s ear, a swab from her scalp, the flashlight she carried in her hand, her hooded sweatshirt, her t-shirt, and the dead nutria.
While the reason for that is unknown, it is believed those tests were affected because Hamilton was in water up to her shoulders
All testing in the case is now concluded.
No items recovered from the scene yielded DNA results indicative of coyote or bear.
Officials said that after the completion of all testing and a review of the scientific and circumstantial evidence in the case, they are unable to make a definitive determination as to what type of canine attacked Brenda Hamilton.