FRANKFORT, Maine — The mother of a 7-month-old girl mauled to death by the family dog in April was arrested Wednesday night and charged in connection with the death.
Maine State Police Detective Adam Kelley arrested 29-year-old Katrina Mitchell at her home on Town Hill Road and charged her with endangering the welfare of a child. Mitchell was taken to Waldo County Jail and was being held in lieu of $1,060 bail.
The charge was filed after police consulted with the District Attorney’s Office.
Annabelle Mitchell was mauled to death on April 12 in the living room of her house by the family’s Rottweiler, Hannibal, while the mother slept on the couch, according to Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety. Annabelle’s 2½-year-old brother also was in the home at the time.
Katrina Mitchell called 911 a little before 7 p.m. to report the attack, but the baby was dead when emergency responders arrived.
Mitchell’s husband, John, was not at home at the time and later asked a deputy to shoot the dog.
A clerk at Belfast District Court said Thursday that the police affidavit in the case is sealed.
Waldo County District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau said that endangering a child is defined as a reckless act which violates a duty of care or protection.
“What we’ll have to prove, if this goes to trial, is that her behavior was reckless,” he said. “There’s lots of things parents can do to end up in bad situations without the slightest guilt attached to it. I think that when the evidence comes out, it’ll be clear … that this was criminal conduct.”
Rushlau said he could not answer questions concerning details about the baby’s death until the affidavit becomes available to the public.
But a local law authority did make note of it in the Waldo County Sheriff’s Office June newsletter.
“Responding officers told me that this was by far the worst call they had responded to in years,” Chief Deputy Robert Keating wrote about that night.
Investigating officers spent the night after the baby died in the home gathering evidence and conducting interviews.
The Frankfort animal control officer said at the time that he had never before received a complaint about the Mitchells’ dog.
“It’s a very sad tragedy,” Richard Crossman Sr. said in April.
Fatal dog attacks are rare in Maine. In April, McCausland said that he believed this was the first time a dog has killed a person in the state in at least 40 years.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year, resulting in 16 deaths on average.
This week, a pit bull terrier is reported to have attacked and killed a smaller dog in a Manchester home. The dog then injured three people, which resulted in the hospitalization of 68-year-old Lena Walker. According to The Associated Press, Walker suffered wounds on her hands and legs and was listed in stable condition Wednesday at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston.
Police have credited 12-year-old Brandon Baile for loading his father’s shotgun and killing the pit bull to end the maulings.
Katrina Mitchell will make her first court appearance on the charge of child endangerment sometime in the next four to six weeks, according to Rushlau.