Pit bull attack: Husband of victim haunted by dogs’ ‘brutality’

Ben Devitt holds a photo of his wife, Pamela, inside his home in Littlerock.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

The husband of a woman who was fatally mauled by a pack of pit bulls said he is haunted by the “brutality” of the attack and hopes the murder charge sends a message to owners of vicious dogs.

“There’s no way I can get the brutality of this out of my head,” said Ben Devitt, 65. “And the fact that there’s animals out there roaming around with that kind of killer instinct, it’s just kind of something I can’t shake.”

Devitt said he lives three blocks from Alex Johnson, 29, who was charged with murder in the May 9 attack that killed Pamela Devitt, his wife of 43 years.


“I’m going to stay completely away from [the case] as much as I can,” he said. “It doesn’t involve me. I don’t know him, I’ve never met him.”

He said he leaves it to prosecutors to decide what charges are appropriate.

“It doesn’t change anything, my emotions are kind of mixed,” he said, though he hopes people who train their dogs to be violent will have “a light turned on them.”

Devitt, a lead mechanic at a truck stop in Fontana, said he plans to retire soon. In the meantime, he’s trying to keep busy.

“I’m a big baby,” he said. “My wife handled everything. She handled this yard, she handled the books, she cooked for me, she took care of me. All I did was go to work and go home, so I’m trying to catch up on all the things she did here. It’s good in one sense that I’m very, very busy just trying to keep up with everything. It helps keep my mind off it.”

Neighbors in the community have complained about Johnson’s dogs before and authorities said they were aware of at least three incidents with law enforcement intervention.

District attorney’s spokeswoman Jane Robison said Jackson’s dogs were involved in an attack on Jan. 13 that led to charges. In that case, his dogs attacked a horse and the horse kicked back in defense. As the incident escalated, Jackson tossed a rock at the person riding the horse, Robison said.

“We believe there was evidence that he was aware the dogs were vicious and they have attacked before and he knew of the danger they posed,” Robison said.


Devitt, 63, was walking on May 9 when she was attacked by a pack of four pit bulls. A passerby spotted the attack and called police.

A deputy found one of the dogs still attacking the victim when he arrived on scene. Devitt died en route to the hospital as a result of blood loss. Coroner’s officials said they found 150 to 200 puncture wounds and sharp force trauma across her body.


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Twitter: @sam_schaefer