Texas Officials Disagree on Whether Man Was Killed by Mountain Lion

By author of The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

The TPWD and sheriff’s office have not yet offered another theory on how Christopher Allen Whiteley died

Texas officials can’t agree on what killed a man found in a wooded area near Lipan, approximately 85 miles from Dallas, last week. The Hood County Sheriff’s Office said it suspects Christopher Allen Whiteley, 28, was fatally attacked by a mountain lion, or other wild animal. But the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) disagrees, saying in a written statement that after an inspection of the scene, its game wardens, wildlife biologists, and other experts found no evidence of a mountain lion, or other wild animal attack. The state agency also said a biologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services came to the same conclusion.

Despite the disagreement, the state officials haven’t offered an alternative theory for how Whiteley died.

According to the TPWD, fatal mountain lion attacks on people are so rare that the department has no record of an attack in Texas. There have been 30 confirmed deaths throughout the U.S. due to mountain lion attacks in 100 years.

Despite the state agency’s response, the sheriff’s office is standing by initial findings from the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office, which it says indicate the man died in an animal attack, possibly by a mountain lion.

No medical examiner’s report is currently listed for Whiteley on the county’s website, but a justice of the peace in Hood County told a reporter with The Dallas Morning News that preliminary autopsy results showed “puncture injuries consistent with that of a large cat.”

Lt. Johnny Rose, a spokesman for the Hood County sheriff’s office, said, “It appears we have two conflicting reports from two agencies that are experts in their field.”

The sheriff’s office is still investigating and is gathering photo evidence and statements from residents who claim to have seen the mountain lion.

“We will wait for the final autopsy report,” Rose said in the written statement. “Hood County Sheriff Roger Deeds always ... [errs] on the side of caution when it comes to the safety and well-being of the citizens of Hood County and will continue to alert them of any safety issue that may affect them.”

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