Slow Progress on an Important Death | Eastern North Carolina Now

    Brenda Lee Hamilton died on February 18, 2019 at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville. Her death was caused by a "canine" animal attack on Indian Run Road near Pantego during the early morning hours.

    She was 77 year old. Apparently the attack took place before day light. Brenda Hamilton frequently walked this road before day light.

    This was a vicious attack with some of her body being (apparently) devoured . The attack was investigated by the Beaufort County Sheriff's office , North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Officers and a biologist. DNA samples were taken from her shoes, clothing, flashlight, a freshly killed nutria, and her body. Many of these samples were of inferior quality because she was found in a ditch.

    Neighbors were alerted to this attack by barking neighborhood dogs. These are some of the same dogs that accompanied her on her walks.

    Samples were sent to Western Carolina University, Forensic Science Program at Cullowee, NC for DNA analysis. Results of that work concluded that she was attacked by "canines". Canine covers a very broad range of animals including wolves coyotes, to all varieties of domestic dogs. The Beaufort County Sheriff's Department eliminated all local dogs by both DNA test and confined observation of the two dogs that are known to be first on the scene.

    Many residents of the area are concerned that animals making this attack have not been identified other than to say "canine". If domesticated dogs have been eliminated, the only other option is wild canines. Locally, that definition includes wild dogs, coyotes ,coyote mixed with red wolves and red wolves. If an unknown killer pack has attacked once, they can certainly attack again. This is a public safety issue.

    The DNA samples have been examined by only one laboratory. Manufacturers produce analytical equipment with a broad range of sensitivity and accuracy. The skill levels of analysts can vary widely.

    In order to further define what killed Brenda Hamilton, I proposed at the June Beaufort County Commissioners meeting, that the County hire an independent third party DNA consultant to examine the test results and make recommendations as to how to proceed with making a definitive determination. I realize that the consultant may repot that we have gone as far as we can go. I believe the public needs to know that. I am also aware that there may be other laboratories with more precise equipment and skills that could give us the peace of mind of knowing what took this woman's life. This would allow the public to be better protected. I estimate the consultants cost to be about $3,500.

    It is important to have an independent third party to look at this test work for a number of reasons. We do not know the relationship between the Western Carolina University and the NC Wildlife Commission or the Federal Wildlife agencies. We do know the "Red Wolf" is protected by the Feds. They introduced the Red Wolf into eastern North Carolina. The Red Wolf has cross bred with coyotes. Could the Feds and State ever

    admit they have introduced a carnivore dangerous to people. What would such a determination mean to Federal efforts to protect Red Wolves and coyote mixes.

    I was somewhat dismayed by the behavior of Commissioners Ed Booth and Frankie Waters when I proposed hiring the consultant. They quickly deflected the my effort arguing that we needed to hear form Federal and State wildlife officials before hiring the independent third party consultant. The board voted unanimously

    to ask the Feds and State to come to the July meeting. Ed Booth promised to vote for the consultant after hearing from the Feds and State. We will see. The Feds and State have a lot of reputation and money to protect on the issue of Red Wolves.

    Several residents of Beaufort County have spoken to me about this issue. All are concerned that we bring this to a conclusion. All want to know what killed Brenda Hamilton. Their feelings are best described by Charles Slade from Sidney Cross Roads who said " We just want the peace of mind of knowing the County has gone as far as possible to get an answer."
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