July 1, 2009
PICKENSVILLE, Ala. -- Pickens County, Ala., authorities are attempting to learn the cause of death of a 97-year-old Pickensville resident found dead near his home.
Pickensville police officers and Pickens County sheriff''s deputies Monday discovered Israel Pope Jr. dead near his Pickensville residence shortly after the victim was reported missing from his home.
"On Monday, we received a call to assist the Pickensville Police Department in finding an elderly male who had wandered from his home," Pickens County Sheriff David Abston said Tuesday. "We discovered the remains of Israel Pope Jr. He had been consumed by animals."
After discovering Pope, officers sent his remains to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences in Montgomery, Ala., for an autopsy, Abston explained.
Shortly after the incident, authorities discovered a pack of dogs living under a mobile home less than one half mile from Pope''s residence.
"We have a dog catcher trying to capture the dogs in a cage right now," Abston explained. "If he can''t capture them, we will have to destroy the dogs.
"We are concerned now because we know the dogs have consumed human flesh," Abston added. "The dogs had been using a nearby ditch in a heavily wooded area for water."
Because officers do not know Pope''s cause of death, they are treating the death investigation as a foul play incident until the autopsy results are returned.
"We aren''t sure when the autopsy will be complete," Abston said. "Until then, we are treating it as if foul play were involved."