Mauling victim sought legal help from county, courts

Reports from Montgomery County Animal Resource Center and calls to the Montgomery County Regional Dispatch Center logs show a pattern of dog complaints related to the home at 35 E. Bruce Ave. and point to growing animosity between the neighbors. Complaints to the Animal Resource Center primarily were left on voicemail anonymously. Several dispatch reports include Klonda Richey’s name or phone number.

Here’s a snapshot of the complaints:

Animal Resource Center complaint: Dec. 27, 2011: Dog is very thin, ribs are visible. No F/W outside.

Animal Resource Center complaint: May 14, 2012: MCSD received a complaint that the bxr had been barking for 45 min. The owner struck the dog and now it sounds like it is in distress. 2012-05-14 10:50 AM 0108

Officer Baker response comments: I spoke to the dog owner and he showed me the dog. The dog acted happy and didn’t show any pain whil I was petting it. The dog did not cower.

The dog owner said his son messed with the neighbor’s fence and that’s why the call came. I explained that you can hit or dog or can be charged with cruelty to animals. 2012-05-14 04:26 PM 0010

Dispatch log: Aug. 29. 2012: Compl initially called in about 35 E. Bruce Ave. She is borderline hysterical, she keeps saying something about her neighbors and their kids and a cat. Rambling on that her neighbors have been driving her crazy for 3mths

Animal Resource Center complaint: March 16, 2013: Comp states dog is loose again and she has a civil protection order again owner. The dog has come after her before and she states that now he will let his dog loose to go after her and her cats. She states the mailman will no longer deliver mail to street because of this dog if it is not taken care of. There are no current lic on file however there are 2 2012 lic on file…The dogs were registered at that time to …Comp states this dog has attacked her before and she has a civil protection order against owner…I knocked on the door but nobody answered. I hear the dog barking inside the house. I posted a warning.

Animal Resource Center complaint: May 29, 2013: Comp states all day yesterday the dog was kept outside on a chain with no food or water. The comp gave the dog a peanut butter sandwich. Comp also said the owner took the dog off the chain and told it to attack the comp. The dog did not leave the yard. The dog was outside all night long. However, the dog is not inside the home. Comp would like the call ran in two days b/c she feels that is when the owner will put the dog back outside.

Dispatch log: July 2, 2013: Neighbor…threatened her this morning with his dog. On going problem. Name: Klonda Richie.

Additional note: Male let his aggressive pit/mastiff run loose while she was walking to work and threatened to let it have her for a treat.

Animal Resource Center complaint: Aug. 5, 2013: Comp states the owner…is no putting one of the pit/mstf in her yard to scare her. Still no lic for 2013 on file…No one home did not hear or see any dogs.

Dispatch log: Dec. 15, 2013: On going problem with residents putting puppy outside on the porch with no food or water & the puppy barking. Puppy is outside now.

The victim in last week’s fatal dog mauling regularly filed complaints about her next-door neighbors and their dogs on Bruce Avenue in Dayton, and made numerous statements that she feared for her life.

“If you want to hurt me, shoot or stab me. Leave cats in peace,” Klonda Richey apparently wrote in an undated letter to her neighbors Julie Custer, 25, and Andrew Nason, 28, both of 35 E. Bruce Ave.

The letter was included in hundreds of pages obtained by the newspaper of court documents, complaints and dispatch logs from the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center and the Regional Dispatch Center.

That paper trail documents a consistent effort by Richey, 57, to call attention to what she considered to be threats to her safety. The dogs were never removed from the home as a result of her many complaints.

Richey’s body was found naked in the snow outside her 31 E. Bruce Ave. home Friday morning by a passerby. When police arrived, two dogs, both mixed-mastiff breeds, charged at them, prompting the officers to shoot and kill them.

A series of 13 anonymous complaints to the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center identify issues with dogs at 35 E. Bruce Ave., the home that Nason and Custer share, and that is directly next to Richey’s. There also were more than 20 calls — some anonymous — some from Richey or affiliated with Richey’s phone number — to the Regional Dispatch Center complaining about dog issues, drug use and fireworks. The dispatch calls, made between January 2012 to December 2013, primarily were dog complaints that included aggressive behavior, neglect and barking.

Richey also sought a civil stalking protection order that was denied by Magistrate Krisi Wuebben in February 2013. She appealed that decision. Her appeal was denied by Judge Michael Krumholtz in April 2013.

Custer and Nason, who initially were taken into custody and then released before formal charges were filed, stated in the protection order court documents that Richey had been harassing them.

“At one point she also stated to Andrew Nason ‘the world would be better off you died,’ Custer wrote in a letter to the court as part of the protection order documents.

Richey, who worked for Montgomery County’s Job & Family Services, regularly called the county’s Regional Dispatch Center during the past two years with concerns about Custer and Nason, according to public records obtained by the newspaper.

Those concerns included dogs continuously barking, on the loose running around the neighborhood, chasing Richey into her home and an alleged threat the Richey would be fed to the dogs as a “treat.”

Friends and co-workers of Richey have expressed outrage that enough was not done to assist her with the problems she told them she had with her neighbors and their dogs. They said for the past three years, Richey told them she lived in fear of the dogs, especially that they would harm her cats, and grew frustrated she could not get help from various public agencies.

Klonda Richey’s brother, Ted Richey of Indianapolis, said he had heard over the years that his sister had some run-ins with her neighbors, but didn’t know to what extent. He also said that his sister kept a large number of cats in her home, which brought her attention.

“She had a cat door, if they were outdoor cats they could come and go… Some neighbors, especially when houses are close together like that, don’t appreciate that.

“She had some run-ins with neighbors, but I certainly didn’t expect anything like this to come of it.”

Ted Richey said for years he tried to persuade her to move out of the neighborhood, but she refused.

“She considered it as much of the cat’s house as it was hers. That was their home and there wasn’t any reason she should leave just because some of the neighbors didn’t like her cats. She could be stubborn in those kind of things,” he said.

Nason and Custer were both released from Montgomery County Jail on Sunday. Attempts to reach them for comment have been unsuccessful.

“Due to the complex nature of the laws concerning animals, we just felt that at this point it would be better off to get our ducks in a row before we proceeded any further,” said Dayton Police Sgt. Richard Blommel. “We’re still investigating and we’ll meet again with the prosecutors when they feel that we have enough to move forward for an indictment.”

Mark Kumpf, director of the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center, said late Monday that his agency did all it could to address the 13 complaints it received about the dogs at 35 E. Bruce St.

After a complaint was reported with the Animal Resource Center, an investigator would visit the 35 E. Bruce Avenue residence. The majority of the time, the homeowners were not home or did not answer the door, and a warning was posted on the house.

“We respond whether it’s one complaint or 13,” Kumpf said. “Unless we find a violation that has an enforceable component, it’s just simply a call. If there’s no violation, there’s no reason to go back and recheck an instance where they didn’t find a crime had been committed.”

The officer has to witness a violation, he said. It can’t be based on third-party accounts or what someone else alleges.

There were no complaints filed against Richey and her cats, according to the Animal Resource Center.

Montgomery County property records state Richey also owned a home at 142 Northwood Avenue in Dayton. Cats owned by Richey at that home are being cared for by a friend, Petersen said.

Cathy Petersen, Montgomery County spokesperson, said there are 17 cats from Richey’s E. Bruce Avenue home that are at Animal Resource Center. The cats are in safekeeping, pending a determination on their future status by Richey’s next of kin, Petersen said.

“Our goal is to get each cat healthy and reach a point where they may be directly adopted, transferred to a partner animal welfare agency or placed with an appropriate sanctuary,” Petersen said in an email.

Anyone interested in adopting can email animalshelter@mcohio.org or call 937-898-4457. The Animal Resource Center also is accepting donations of litter, canned or dry food, beds and toys.