TAMPA — Authorities were still determining Monday whether to file charges in the death of a 4-year-old boy mauled by his uncle’s pit bulls over the weekend in Riverview.
The body of Logan Shepard is in the custody of the Hillsborough County medical examiner’s office. Officials there said an autopsy will be conducted soon.
Logan died late Saturday at the home of his aunt and uncle, Dolores and Billy Frederick Sr., on Rhodine Road in Riverview. He and his mother, Stephanie Groulx, were visiting from their home about a half-mile away on Tocci Lane in the Tropical Acres community.
Michael Shepard, Logan’s father, said the family is still making sense of what happened. Shepard said he was working when his son died.
He said his son loved going mud-bogging. Beyond that, though, he declined to speak.
According to initial reports from the sheriff’s office, Logan was left alone in the home’s fenced-in front yard with ice cream while the adults and a 15-year-old went into a bedroom in the house. The dogs were crated at the time.
At some point, the two female dogs escaped their crates. Family members heard screams and came out of the house but couldn’t find Logan. The screams also caught the attention of sheriff’s deputies who were conducting a traffic stop nearby.
Eventually, family members and the deputies found the dogs standing over Logan’s body. The boy was pronounced dead at the scene.
Marti Ryan, spokeswoman for the county’s Pet Resources Division, said the Fredericks voluntarily surrendered the dogs, which were euthanized.
Logan’s death followed a familiar script. According to recent research by the Center for Animals and Public Policy, 87 percent of deaths from dog bites happen in the “absence of an able-bodied person to intervene.”
Researchers looked at 256 dog-bite fatalities between 2000 and 2009. They found that breed was not a factor in fatalities.
The area of Riverview where the mauling happened has many small homes on acre lots. Nearly every lot is bounded by a chain-link fence. A few have “Beware of Dog” signs.
The Fredericks’ house was quiet Monday afternoon but for two television crews and a couple of deputies parked outside the fence. There was no police tape or other signs of an active investigation.
Outside Groulx’s home a few blocks away, several cars were parked along Tocci Lane as family and friends gathered at her house.