by Paul Bowers
Investigators say JaMarr Tiller, the 2-year-old boy who died after being found mauled outside his family's home in unincorporated Mt. Pleasant on May 27, was attacked by at least two dogs.
In a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Charleston County Coroner Rae Wooten said a forensic odontologist determined from the bite marks on JaMarr's body that two dogs that lived near the house had each bitten the boy multiple times. Initial news reports suggested that coyotes might have been to blame for JaMarr's death, but Wooten said there was no evidence to suggest that any were involved. She also said there is no evidence that any other dogs were involved, but she could not rule it out.
Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon said the dogs were not family pets, but strays that one member of JaMarr's family had been feeding. They are described as mixed-breed dogs, and they are being held in custody at the Charleston Animal Society. No charges have been filed against the family, and no decision has been made about whether or not to euthanize the dogs.
Cannon said there have been no eyewitness accounts of the boy's death, and the stories told by family members reveal some inconsistencies. "In looking at the overall picture once you've got statements from everybody and you're trying to develop some sense of time and space, you also got a sense sometimes of whether or not something fits," Cannon said. "It's not consistent that somebody would put down a child for a nap at 8 p.m., for example, so what does that mean in terms of what we've been told? It certainly presents a lot of challenges."
The next step is for Wooten to decide whether to start a coroner's inquest, in which a jury of six people would assess the evidence, interview witnesses, and present a non-binding verdict.
"While it's not the reason for doing an inquest," Wooten said, "it would be my hope that this tragic death would have some positive outcome in terms of raising awareness of how careful we the caregivers must be about keeping our children safe."