Dog that killed girl, 4, was family pet but mystery remains over breed
The dog that mauled a four-year-old girl to death in Milton Keynes was a family pet, which was put down by police at the house.
Alice Stones was set upon while playing in the back garden of her home in Buckinghamshire on Tuesday afternoon.
Thames Valley Police officers were called to the house in Broadlands, Netherfield just after 5pm, where Alice later died.
The dog was destroyed by armed officers, police said in an update on Wednesday.
Her family are “trying to come to terms” with the “horrendous” tragedy, a relative told MailOnline.
Hundreds of people gathered on Wednesday night at a candlelit vigil held in memory of Alice.
After being called to the dog attack, armed police raided the home and are believed to have cornered the dog.
Thames Valley Police has said no arrests have been made as they continue to investigate the attack.
Locals left flowers outside the house on Wednesday, while neighbours described Alice’s mother’s “desperate screams” as her child was killed by the animal, which they claim was bought about six weeks ago.
“I heard ‘She’s dead! She’s dead!’” a neighbour said. “They’ll stay with me forever. It was a nightmare. I’m heartbroken. They will haunt me.”
Neighbour and mother of four Rita Matthews, 36, said: “I always saw the little girl on the way to school with her mum because she is the same age as my daughter.
“I heard screams of the little girl coming from the garden but I didn’t know what was going on.
“Lots of police cars turned up and we were all told to stay inside. I then saw on Facebook what had happened and was shocked.
“I had never heard any dog noises coming from the house before and I don’t think they even have a dog of their own. I feel so sad because I have four children and I feel for the little girl’s mother.”
A neighbour whose children go to school with Alice told The Sun that residents were instructed by police to stay inside in case the dog escaped.
An officer allegedly warned: “If this dog gets out, somebody is going to get hurt.”
The neighbour described the animal as a “big brown dog” that the family got a few weeks back but had “only seen it at the house.”
Michelle Kitchener, 54, said Alice lived in the house with her mother Louise who is a single mother.
The mother of two said: “The mum always kept herself to herself but I would sometimes see her drop the little girl off at nursery or school.
“At 5.30pm I heard police cars coming down the street and then when I look outside there was lots of police.
“I have never seen or heard a dog bark coming from that house. I didn’t even know they had a dog.”
In an update on Wednesday, superintendent Marc Tarbit, local policing area commander for Milton Keynes, said: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the girl who has died in this extremely tragic incident.
“Our police officers remain at the scene of this extremely tragic incident, which has shocked the whole city. If anyone wants to speak to our officers, please feel free to approach them with any questions or concerns that you may have.”
He said the investigation was continuing “at pace” and urged anyone with information to help the investigation to come forward.
No arrests have been made in connection with this incident and no one else was injured, police said.
The girl’s death came hours after an inquest was told that 28-year-old dog walker Natasha Johnston died of “multiple penetrating bites” to her neck after being mauled by eight dogs she was walking in a Surrey beauty spot on 12 January.
Crowds gathered at the vigil held for Alice on Wednesday and prayers were said for the family as people held candles in the darkness in a green space at the rear of the place of worship.
There were moments of reflection as music was played over speakers, including Amazing Grace and Over The Rainbow.
Donna Fuller, a ward councillor for Woughton Community Council, said the area has a “tight-knit community, predominantly families”.
She said the vigil was to “enable the community to come together and draw strength from each other”.
Ms Fuller added: “It will send a strong message to the family that we are thinking of them.”
She said there is “such a sense of shock” and it is an “awful situation”.
She told gathered crowds: “This family will need the time and space to allow them to process this tragic event and I hope that we can do that and help them in the future.
“I would ask that we support each other.
“There is a feeling of deep sadness that we will feel as a community so I ask you to be neighbourly and I ask you to be supportive and most of all I ask you to be kind.”