Yes, sleepy Malvern which doesn’t see much violent crime like this EVER, was all over the news. As a matter of fact when the news interviewed a neighbor named Ben Boomer, he thought the last time Malvern had a murder was over 20 years ago. (I have no idea.)
The media referred to this as a “Main Line Murder”, which in my humble opinion it is not. Malvern Borough is in Chester County and cornfields and farms are close by. The Main Line doesn’t have much in the way of farming they grow McMansions. (Sorry but it is true – just look at the future of Ardrossan.)
The victim, a 2011 graduate of Great Valley High School was only 21 years old. His name was Drew Ferguson. He lived with his grandparents on a cute little street in Malvern Borough off (I believe) Old Lincoln Highway on Miner Street. Someone told me the nickname for over there is “Miner Hill”.
Drew, we learned last evening on the news, was as per Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan, murdered by a friend from high school, 24 year old Merritt Dudas.
Ok wow. I don’t know any of the people involved or families involved, but so tragic as all concerned are/were so young with their entire lives ahead of them.
These were someone’s children, grandchildren, friends, neighbors.
So senseless. So sad.
On a Malvern-centric Facebook page we heard one mom tell of teachers and former students at Great Valley High School meeting over at the school to grieve together and remember.
The media reports showed Drew’s Facebook page and yes, I went and looked. I wanted to see what kind of kid this was. I saw lots of photos of cars he was working on, the photo of him and what I guess was his dog, and then there was the photo that brought me, a stranger, to tears:
Ok my father died eight years ago last week and I so get the whole missing your father of it all. This Drew wrote this in January :
R.I.P dad 11/23/65 1/24/12 I will always love u no madder what and it still really hard to live my life with u gone but ur all ways in my heart love u dad see u when it’s my time
He was just a boy. And his “time” should have been decades down the road.
No matter what else, this Drew Ferguson was just a boy who obviously missed his dad and liked cars (and maybe drove too fast judging from photos of a wrecked red Honda?). I am getting a lump in my throat thinking about it. And right there leaving a comment in sympathy in January is the young man accused of his murder. This is truly a senseless tragedy of Shakespearian proportions.
There are no words. I totally feel for both families. This tragedy has and will continue to tear up a lot of people. This shouldn’t have happened and it happened in a town where things like this don’t happen. And I am at an age where this kid Drew is the same age as some of my friends’ children.
The police and District Attorney’s office did an amazing job getting this all squared away so quickly.
MALVERN – The Chester County District Attorney’s office Tuesday charged an acquaintance in the death of a 21-year-old man who was found shot to death near his home in the borough Monday evening.
Authorities identified 24-year-old Merritt Dudas of Collegeville as the suspect who is charged with murder, robbery, theft and abuse of a corpse.
Drew Ferguson, a 2011 graduate of Great Valley High School living in the 200 block of Miner Street, was the victim, police said.
According to Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan, the investigation found the attack was not random and the two men had known each other for years.
Hogan said for a period of time Dudas lived in the home next to Ferguson and then with Ferguson at the residence on Miner Street when Dudas was without a place to live.
According to the criminal complaint, Dudas was arrested by police on Tuesday and confessed to the killing….“A tragic and senseless murder, but I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that in a very short period of time this was extraordinary police work,” Hogan said, indicating police did in 24 hours what should have taken about two weeks.
I now understand why reporters say sometimes what they see in a court room haunts them. I will be haunted a long time by the crime scene photos which were shown of the slain Bernese Mountain Dog puppies Argus & Fiona.
The scene photos (I am not a police officer so I don’t know what to call them), were not intentionally gruesome, they were what they were. (We saw a photo of the shotgun too. It was not one that repeats, either, which means the buck shot had to deliberately reloaded, correct?) There seemed to be some sort of quiet sidebar conversation as in jury and audience could not hear) before the audience, judge, and jury saw the photos. I am thinking it had to do with the photos – but I don’t know for sure.
The photos – Argus lay there on the ground like he was shot in mid-flight. He seemed to be facing away from us. Then there was the photo of the female puppy Fiona. This photo made me cry (several things made me tear up this afternoon- so much was so hard to hear) it was so heart and gut wrenchingly awful. Fiona was curled in a semi fetal position staring at the camera with lifeless eyes. That is the photo I will see in my head for a long time it is so awful.
But back to the beginning. Three papers were there: Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily Local and Brandywine News Media. There were Argus and Fiona friends and family and supporters on one side and Gabe Pilotti had a mish mosh of people on his side. I never saw the man in person before today so I have no way of knowing who was family and who might have been church folk. I will note that whomever they are had minor children with them, who were in the room when the photos of the shot up dogs were displayed. Not to judge, but would you have wanted your children to see that? The smiling Pilotti from the mug shot was not present today.
Ramsey, Pilotti’s attorney referred to a “media campaign” over this issue. He seemed to make a lot of referrals to the Justice for Argus and Fiona Facebook Page and obliquely this blog (or in my opinion that is what it was) like we were all bad people for talking about this. Judge Nagle seemed to shut this commentary down on several occasions as being somewhat irrelevant to the case at hand.
Pilotti’s attorney was somewhat brutal with the Bocks. But that is a defense attorney doing their job I suppose. I do think the defense attorney was unnecessarily hard on Mary Bock in particular – asked her something like did she have remorse over the whole incident. My personal opinion was that asking something like that was gratuitously nasty. She was practically in tears having to relive parts of that awful day as it was.
Pilotti’s attorney seemed to make a big deal out of these neighbors of Pilotti’s that the Bocks used to be friendly with – people named Dallas and Kelley Definbaugh. I wonder, are those the people holding Pilotti’s gun? Anyway, it is not like it is some dirty secret. The couples used to be friendly, more from the wives knowing each other and kids being in same sections of classes at school. But that changed. The kids moved on into different groups and classes at school and the wives don’t hang out any more. So what? Do you keep in close contact with people with whom you no longer share any meaningful commonality? I don’t.
I wouldn’t know the Definbaugh people if I fell on them, and am just getting to know the Bocks, so I can only go with my gut. I like the Bocks. They are honorable people who experienced something so horrible. And when you see the photos of those dead puppies from that day and hear about how they were moved in a front end loader or a tractor or something to the township building the day they were shot, well let me tell you, you get a much more clear picture of how these people have suffered.
Remember this news report?
I also did not get why Pilotti’s attorney kept bringing up a letter that Mary Bock wrote to her neighbors after her dogs were shot. I mean get real, there are tons of kids out there and tons of people with dogs. If she wanted to tell her neighbors is that so wrong?
And Pilotti’s attorney wants to make a big deal out of this blog? I did not drive his client to shoot those dogs. And I am not condoning violence against his client, only like hundreds of others out there hoping for justice and a strengthening of Pennsylvania dog laws.
Today we heard from Officer Russell from West Vincent Police Department. He was the first on the scene and apparently present later when Pilotti was interviewed by police. He seems like a totally honorable and stand up guy. He also seems to be some sort of authority on fire arms and he spoke with some intelligence about the gun used – a 20 gauge single shot non repeating shot-gun with 9 pellet buck shot if I have it correctly.
Officer Russell recounted that fateful February day calmly with some degree of detail. He remarked that at the time (as in day of shooting) he found Pilotti’s answers “vague”. (his verbiage) . He reported that on the day of the shooting in front of the Police Chief he asked Pilotti for a written statement to assist in the investigation. He stated that Pilotti in his opinion seemed hesitant to do so, but eventually went back to his garage and sat down and compiled a “list”. Officer Russell also described seeing the dogs. He reported that Argus took a fairly direct hit to the head and the dog’s head was “kind of blown apart.” He described Fiona’s position (that I saw in the photos) and the blood coming out of her mouth and I believe he said on her paws. I will admit the photo of her so disturbed me that I could not get past the quasi fetal position and lifeless eyes staring at the camera.
District Attorney Tom Hogan appeared in court to watch for a while at approximately 3:45 p.m. That made people sit up and take notice – he is a busy guy so you know he can’t audit every court proceeding. I was thankful for his presence.
I stayed until just before the defense was going to cross-examine Officer Russell. People in the court room said that got out of hand. I remember before I left Officer Russell stating that they wanted to talk to Pilotti again because “something did not seem right.”
Pilotti’s attorney at one point referred to when Pilotti had shot dogs before, but West Vincent locals told me that those dogs were shot on a neighbors property because the neighbor’s animals were being mauled and is that not the truth? So that was something different from when Argus and Fiona were shot, huh?
And I have to ask (bearing in mind my limited knowledge of buck shot) but if Argus and Fiona were actually pursuing sheep why is it the audience and jury didn’t hear about injured sheep? Or see photos of bloodied sheep or dead sheep? I ask because as buck shot was explained today to everyone in that courtroom it sort of spreads or sprays out, right?
Watching the face of the jury all afternoon was quite interesting. That is all I will say on that.
Court continues tomorrow at the Criminal Justice Center in Downtown West Chester, PA. I strongly urge dog lovers to attend if possible. The Bock family and the memory of these puppies deserve our support in a peaceful way as an extended community. It is a public proceeding and the courtroom is open, not closed. You can go to all or part of tomorrow. Parking is not expensive in the new garage, either. You just park, go through the court screening and ask to be directed to Judge Nagle’s court (7th floor room 8 off the top of my head)
Today was deeply disturbing and very emotional. But I am glad I went. It makes me even more resolute than ever that dog laws need to change.
In a case that outraged animal-rights activists and generated national attention, a trial began Monday for a Chester County man charged with killing his neighbor’s dogs because he believed they posed a threat to his sheep.
Gabriel Pilotti, 73, of Chester Springs, was charged with cruelty to animals for shooting the two Bernese mountain dogs — 2-year-old Angus and 1-year-old Fiona — after they had escaped the fenced yard of their owners, Mary and William Bock….In his opening statement, Kevin Pierce, assistant district attorney said Pilotti willfully and maliciously killed the two dogs in cold blood and then left a voice message for a neighbor bragging about the incident……Argus was shot in the head as he trotted up toward Pilotti and that Fiona was shot as she ran away. Pilotti did not try to yell at the dogs or chase them away with a broom, he said.
“He choose to go to the most extreme measure first,” said Pierce.
Also noteworthy? The Chester County SPCA which is currently under fire in Chester County and beyond did NOT bother to show up today. I found that extraordinarily cowardly. They should have put the other stuff aside and shown up for the dogs. Good thing no one was depending on them for anything.
WEST CHESTER – Gabriel Pilotti, the 73-year-old West Vincent resident on trial for shooting two dogs that wandered onto his property, was portrayed in two different lights Monday as his case opened in the Chester County Justice Center.
To the prosecutor, Pilotti was a trigger happy man who shot first and asked no questions – taking the matter of dogs in his pasture to the “most extreme measure” by killing the two dogs without provocation.
“This is a simple case of a cold blooded killing of two family pets,” Assistant District Attorney Kevin Pierce told the nine women and three men on the jury in Senior Judge Ronald Nagle’s courtroom. He said the defendant “mowed down” one of the dogs as he “moseyed” toward him, and then reloaded his shotgun and shot and killed the second, younger dog as it ran from the yard.
It’s to be a very dog-centric week on this blog, apparently. The day of justice is nigh. We received word via the Bock family this morning that jury selection begins Monday, September 9th:
This odyssey began for me on February 19th when I saw a cross-post about these puppies who were shot on a friend’s Facebook page.
Then I heard this:
Since February we have suffered the ups and downs of this case with the Bock family. We have rallied and supported the family as a community. And as a community of Chester County residents and dog lovers it is time to come together PEACEABLY and show our support for the Bock family and in a PEACEABLE manner express our hopes for justice. We need justice so the family has closure.
That does NOT mean going anywhere near Gabe Pilotti, unless you don’t want him to face a judge and jury of his peers and be held accountable? Unless you want him to become the victim in this tragedy in place of the true victims: the Bock family and two deceased Bernese Mountain Dog puppies.
1 M1 18 § 5511 §§A2.1IA Cruelty To Animals 02/12/2013 T 295420-6
2 M1 18 § 5511 §§A2.1IA Cruelty To Animals 02/12/2013 T 295420-6
3 M2 18 § 2705 Recklessly Endangering Another Person 02/12/2013 T 295420-6
But according to my sources, no court date took place earlier this morning. (I am sick or I would have been at the courthouse, truthfully.)
The Bock family has suffered through the loss of their dogs and the ups and downs of the justice system, and I feel really badly for them and the memory of Argus & Fiona. No one has asked for the sun, moon, or stars. No one has condoned or asked for vigilante justice. All anyone has asked for is that the justice system see this through and for lawmakers to consider strengthening dog laws in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania so families and pets in this state not only have legal recourse, but laws that aren’t antiquated and might actually protect innocent pet owners and their domestic animals.
We’re still waiting. And we want everyone to know we have not forgotten Argus & Fiona. And neither should you.
I know that West Vincent Township would love everyone to forget about Argus & Fiona because it happened in that warped Mayberry. And like everything else that happens in West Vincent, it seems to be a bit of a hot mess still doesn’t it? After all, why is it months ago when the charges were announced, why is it that West Vincent Township PD couldn’t confiscate one shotgun pending the outcome of the legal proceedings?
Mary Bock commented the other day on the Justice for Argus & Fiona Facebook page:
To all the wonderful people who have been supporting us and this fight for justice for Argus and Fiona, I wanted to give you a little update as to where we stand. Because the defense has control over the dates for court appearances, our initial main concern was having the gun removed from Pilotti’s possession….but because he has an “emotional attachment” to the gun it wasn’t that easy…..The DA suggested…that the gun be placed in a lock box at his neighbor’s house. The background checks were done on the neighbor and the gun was handed over….Sometimes it’s very hard to get any information…Thank you everyone for the continued support and all of your kind words
Again, I am not having a gun debate here (nor am I deliberately slamming or questioning the Chester County District Attorney’s office ) but I still fail to understand that since there has been a reckless endangerment charge pending why West Vincent didn’t pick up that gun and simply lock it up for safekeeping when those charges landed months ago? I have been told that is common practice when there are legal proceedings pending so I have always found this back and forth on what should be fairly cut and dry confusing. I also do not get how you could have an emotional attachment to a shotgun, do you? I sure hope that West Vincent has periodically checked to see that this gun is in fact locked up in this neighbor’s gun safe don’t you?
I do know that people in West Vincent are holding their breath still on this and let me be abundantly clear, I embrace responsible dog ownership just like I embrace responsible gun ownership. I also respect the farmers’ rights to defend their livestock in crisis situation, but this was never a crisis situation because these puppies never attacked anything did they? I am also still at sixes and sevens as to whether or not Gabe Pilotti is actually a farmer or truly a hobbyist? There is a difference.
I will also state again for the record that despising what Mr. Pilotti did in February is honest human emotion. However I do not condone the behavior of people who stood in the middle of roads shouting with bullhorns or trespassed on people’s property or threatening him. That is all wrong.
I post today to reaffirm that people have not forgotten these poor dogs and what fate befell them and to remind lawmakers that they can’t just talk a good game when it comes to protecting our domestic pets like dogs. They actually have to get off their duffs and DO something. These pets aren’t property like an azalea bush or an ear of corn, they are part of our families. And since Argus & Fiona were shot to death we have heard of other cases of intolerable cruelty like this in Pennsylvania and other states.
Please contact your lawmakers again about Justice for Argus & Fiona and for changes to the dog laws and animal cruelty laws so animals are properly protected. I would also go as far as to suggest not only contacting your state elected officials (as in State Representatives and State Senators) but your U.S. Congressman as well for stronger Federal laws. For most of us in Chester County, we are either served by Pat Meehan or Jim Gerlach.
And I really hope some day that Mr. Pilotti can express remorse to the Bocks eye to eye, don’t you? After all how will that man ever have peace in his own world without doing that?
I will close this post with a Buddhist prayer I find oddly apropos here today (yes I know not the norm you expect from a Catholic but never the less):
By the power and truth of this practice:
May all beings have happiness and the cause of happiness
May all beings be free from sorrow and the causes of sorrow
May all never be separated from the sacred happiness which is sorrow less
And may all live in equanimity without too much attachment and too much aversion
And live believing in the equality of all that lives.
It’s not easy being green…poor, poor West Vincent Township. So much darn odd stuff happens within the township boundaries, you just can’t make it up.
The latest is a gargantuan pot bust. Yes marijuana is apparently the new crop in that part of Chester County. I can’t see it from my window and that is good.
Before I post the article I would mention that West Vincent residents have an AWESOME and not connected to the current regime candidate for supervisor – John Jacobs. Given the odd things that happen to West Vincent residents have an interest in cleaning up local government, can it be said this man puts himself at great risk to run? Well of he can do that, you all should be able to vote for him. West Vincent residents all say they want change, well the only way to get that is to break the death grip the current network has with a new supervisor.
You want change, people? Vote the old out and vote in the new. John Jacobs has a website. Here is a link to other endorsed candidates if you are interested. Yes it is GOP and I would put up the Democratic info if I could find it. But the truth is who is representative of them in West Vincent? Clare Quinn? Lordy that isn’t something to brag about and are you all still paying her benefits? Also worth noting? Another fabulous upstanding and honest person that I think would be marvy is running for West Vincent Township Auditor – Maria Holderness. Seriously people, it is time for change in your neck of the woods. After all what does it hurt to consider people whose hands AREN’T in some cookie jar somewhere?
Here is the article and yes, it’s not easy being green:
WEST VINCENT — Over 180 marijuana plants were seized and one man was arrested Tuesday after police discovered a “sophisticated” grow operation at a home in the 1200 block of Jaine Lane in Spring City.
“Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan announced the arrest of Christian Titone of Spring City Thursday for allegedly running what police said was a sophisticated hydroponic grow operation and that housed over 180 live marijuana plants .”;
According to the Chester County District Attorney’s Office, 53-year-old Christian Titone was arrested after police executed a search warrant at his home. Officials said the home was located in a secluded area of the township.
“Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan announced the arrest of Christian Titone of Spring City Thursday for allegedly running what police said was a sophisticated hydroponic grow operation and that housed over 180 live marijuana plants .”;
“The defendant thought he could outsmart the police trying to grow marijuana in a secluded section of Chester County. He was wrong,” said District Attorney Tom Hogan. “We have confiscated his drugs arrested him, and now will move to forfeit everything associated with his drug dealing.”
photo courtesy of The Daily Local News via Chester County DAs Office
“A large number of grow lights removed from the West Vincent home of Christian Titone, who is charged with a large-scale marijuana growing operation.
Police said investigators executed a search warrant at Titone’s home during Tuesday’s early morning hours. Inside, they found a sophisticated hydroponic grow operation…also found processed marijuana ready for sale…Titone’s home also had a “state of the art” surveillance system…After the search, executed by the Chester County Detectives and the county’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Strike Force, members of the state police’s Clandestine Laboratory Team removed the marijuana and all of the growing equipment, officials said.
I notice the Daily Local lists a rather long list of law enforcement involved. Basically everyone except West Vincent’s own police department and why? Was West Vincent’s Chief out collecting Gabe Pilotti’s gun or something? Pilotti is the one who shot the dogs in cold blood, remember? One would have thought that the West Vincent police would have confiscated the weapon pending the outcome of the court case, right? But we’re not here to discuss dog killers today.
Anyway just chalk it up to more unpleasant spotlights shining down on West Vincent.
Chester County detectives have arrested a West Vincent man who, they say, was running “a major marijuana grow operation” in his house.
On Tuesday evening, detectives entered the home of Christian Titone, 54, on a search warrant. Inside, they found 188 marijuana plants — part of what Chester County prosecutors called a “sophisticated hydroponic grow operation” that included lights, ventilation and an irrigation system, according to court documents.
Titone had also set up a high-tech surveillance system that allowed him to monitor everything inside and outside the house from HD monitors, detectives said. The detectives also found processed, ready-to-sell marijuana in 12 different strains — with names like “Afrodite Mother” and “Ace of Spades,” they said
Kudos to the Kennett Times for a catchy article title that cracked me up.
W. Vincent resident accused of marijuana-growing operation
By Kathleen Brady Shea, Managing Editor, The Times
Authorities said an alleged marijuana grower thought his remote location and sophisticated surveillance system would protect him from police….“A high-tech, high-end drug operation like this would be providing drugs to suppliers from Phoenixville to Kennett Square and points beyond,” said Hogan….Titone has been charged with several drug-dealing offenses, including possession with the intent to distribute controlled substances and possession of drug paraphernalia, the criminal complaint said. Hogan said Titone was released after “promptly” paying $100,000 cash bail. He said a preliminary hearing would be scheduled in the near future.
Well lo and behold, that has happened. No it isn’t Off The Track Thoroughbred Rescue or that Turning for Home out of Parx Racing run by that Barbara Luna and why on earth would you think that feds might be interested in little old them anyway? They are angels are they not? Do you sense sarcasm? Good.
I am sick of horse rescue. I love horses. I rode many moons ago, and don’t ride now and have never owned horses. Some say that means I have no business saying boo about horse rescue, but I am sorry, horse rescue is the new puppy mill in Pennsylvania. It is not really regulated and those who are supposed to keep track of horse rescues like that LAPs (Large Animal Protection Society) just seem to be asleep at the tractor or something.
And yup, sorry I am allowed an opinion on this. And my opinion is there is a lot of money being made by different folks only it is hard to keep track of the horses, their paperwork, who is caring for them, who is responsible for them and all that.
Every time we turn around a new “rescue” pops up. Some of them are retreads and contacts of already suspect rescues and some are new. I love the ones that say they are a business but also a rescue. Call me confused but are they businesses selling horse or a non-profit rescue? It is all very confusing and we’ve been over it a dozen times at least.
I would say the issues with horse rescues in Pennyslvania are legitimate given all the comments. And to those who leave comments with problems with horse rescues please go to the authorities. If the authorities won’t listen you need to stand up somewhere under your own steam as many others are doing and be counted. I do not know what else to say.
Published: Apr 30 2013 11:51:14 AM EDT Updated On: May 01 2013 04:40:48 PM EDT
NORTH HEIDELBERG TWP., Pa. –
Federal investigators raided a horse rescue operation in Berks County on Tuesday.
The FBI, acting on a federal search warrant, conducted the raid at Another Chance 4 Horses on Station Road in North Heidelberg Township.
Agents seized computers, cell phones, financial records, veterinary records and boxes of other items and documents related to the nonprofit operation and its sale and purchase of horses, according to an inventory list compiled by the agents.
Onto Justice for Argus and Fiona. The trial of Gabe Pilotti is coming up unless it does a dance, and here is an update from Mary Bock:
Talked to the D.A.’s office today, it’s been we’ll over 2 months since Mr. Pilotti shot Argus and Fiona and he still has the shot gun in his possession. As each court date comes and goes I am starting to lose faith in our justice system. How can this be that Tom Hogan was so passionate in his press conference announcing the charges they were going to file against Mr. Pilotti and now the D.A.’s office cant even seem to have the shot gun removed from his possession. I’ve been given excuse after excuse as to why they are not in the drivers seat. It is completely discouraging! Our justice system at its finest. I’ve been quiet, I’ve held back but now my patience is no more and I feel like my family and all of the people who have supported us have been taken advantage of and made to look like fools. 🙁 We have new dogs that we love very much, but we haven’t forgotten our old loves who were brutally shot by a sick man who then bragged about his conquest. Hoping and praying that our justice system will do what it is meant to do.