TUCUMCARI, N.M. (KRQE) – A Tucumcari mother and son are facing criminal charges after investigators say five of the family’s dogs killed a man earlier this month. The attack happened a week ago on February 1, killing 64-year-old Stanley Hartt.
Mary Montoya, 50, and her son Kristopher Morris, 27, are both facing two felony charges including possession of a dangerous dog and involuntary manslaughter (negligent act.) Investigators say Montoya cared for the five dogs, which she claims her son owned.
Hartt was found dead near the intersection of Gamble Avenue and 11th Street on the west side of Tucumcari. Police say the 64-year-old was walking near the high school around 8 p.m. when five dogs attacked him. Investigators say Hartt’s body was found with “numerous bite marks” and large portions of his legs appeared “to have been eaten away by animals.”
Investigators allege that Montoya has continually allowed animals to freely roam Tucumcari. They also allege she failed to report that her dogs were loose and knew the dogs were gone the night Hartt was mauled to death.
According to newly filed arrest warrant affidavits, investigators found the dog pack shortly after the attack and noticed one of the dogs had blood on its snout. Officers shot and killed the boxer-lab-pitbull mix “to prevent further harm to the public.”
Officers tried to euthanize a second dog that night, but were unsuccessful. Investigators say that dog ran off after officers fired a gun, heading down an alley near a home on High Street in Tucumcari. At a nearby home, other officers spotted another dog they recognized from the pack that killed Hartt.
At that home, officers met Mary Montoya, who admitted to caring for five dogs. Officers say one of the dogs in the home had blood on its face and that Montoya had photographs of the dog that was killed. Montoya told officers the dogs belonged to her son, but “she takes care of them because he does not.”
Montoya also told investigators that the boxer-lab-pitbull mix that was killed, named “Zina,” had previously bitten two other people on separate occasions. Investigators say Montoya spoke of putting the dogs in the backyard after work amid a yard with “a fence in severe disrepair.”
In subsequent interviews with investigators, Montoya’s son Kristopher Morris admitted the dogs have “a history of repeated escapes” and “attacking” local residents.
Both suspects are expected to face a judge on Friday, February 10 for a first appearance. Of the five dogs, one was killed and the other four were taken into the custody of the Animal Control department in Tucumcari.