A family in the small town of Kiefer, Oklahoma south of Tulsa is mourning the death of their 7-year-old boy after he was apparently killed by the family dog.
Last week, a couple called the police to report that their young son, James McNeelis (pictured above, inset), was nowhere to be found after having been playing in the family’s backyard. Concerned that the 7-year-old boy had wandered off on his own, the family got the Creek County Sheriff’s Office involved, and deputies immediately began searching for the boy.
But just 20 minutes after deputies arrived to help search for the boy, his body was discovered at the very rear of the family’s property — and as it turned out, horrifically, he had been apparently mauled to death. Shortly after the grim find, Chief Deputy Chris Leach spoke to the news media about the unimaginable situation at the McNeelis house, saying (below):
“[James] was out playing and they called him for dinner … [and they got] no response. It doesn’t look like any foul play. It looks like, preliminary investigations indicate, some sort of an animal.”
Soon thereafter, investigators working on the case were able to confirm that the boy was, in fact, mauled to death.
And to make matters worse, it became quickly clear which animal had done it: the family’s new pet of just three weeks, a corgi-sheltie mix. Usually known as a docile pair of breeds, the discovery of the family’s own dog as the cause of McNeelis’ death has sent them reeling.
According to local news reports in Tulsa, James’ family had found the dog as a stray after somebody else dumped it on the side of the road. They took the pet in three weeks before this deadly and tragic incident, and James had apparently been playing with it the entire time the dog lived in their home with no signs of aggression shown. It’s unclear at this point why the dog might have changed its behavior so drastically on that fateful day.
Neighbor Shannon Edison, who had been on her front porch down the block while the search for the boy had initially gone on, told local news outlet KTUL that she heard the child’s mother let loose a blood-curdling scream upon learning of the his tragic fate.
Edison reported (below):
“It was a very, very life-changing scream, if that makes sense … We knew something was wrong. As a mother you know that scream. If anybody’s ever heard that scream, you know that scream. Something was catastrophically wrong. It was gut-wrenching. No family should ever have to go through something like that. I just couldn’t believe it, honestly. It was something that was unfathomable.”
The dog is currently being held at an animal control facility in Tulsa while the investigation into James’ death continues. Authorities have not yet confirmed whether or not the animal will be euthanized.
Here’s more on the tragedy, and James’ family, from Tulsa-area TV news outlet KJRH (below):
In the meantime, a family friend has set up a GoFundMe page to support the McNeelis family as they prepare to bury their only child. You can view that fundraiser HERE. There are no words at this point. It’s just such a terrible nightmare of a situation for all involved.
Rest in peace, sweet little one…