“Multiple animal induced injuries” killed Cocke County man, autopsy shows

The autopsy revealed multiple animal-induced injuries, including punctures, lacerations, contusions and torn veins, caused the death of Tony Ahrens.
Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 2:25 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - An animal attack caused the death of 52-year-old Tony Ahrens, according to an autopsy report from the Knox County Regional Forensic Center.

According to the report, Ahrens died of multiple animal-induced injuries. Ahrens’ death was ruled an accident, the medical examiner determined.

The body of Tony Ahrens was found near his property on April 1 after he was found unresponsive and suffering from multiple injuries.

The autopsy revealed Ahrens’ had multiple animal-induced injuries, including punctures, lacerations, contusions, torn veins and the loss of his left arm.

“Whether this was one animal or more than one animal and what type of animal is unknown,” the autopsy read.

The autopsy disclosed paw marks and blood were found on the ground near Ahrens’ body.

The report revealed Ahrens tested positive for methamphetamine. According to the medical examiner, blood levels of 200-600 ng/mL of methamphetamine are typically reported in those who abuse the drug and exhibit, “violent and irrational behavior.” Test results showed 1000 ng/mL of methamphetamine in Ahrens’ system at the time of his death.

Ahrens was the first of two people to die along Jimtown Road in Cocke County, prompting authorities to warn travelers to use caution in the area as the investigation continued.

The second victim, 29-year-old Amber Miller, was attacked on July 12. According to a report, officials were told by witnesses that Miller was found at 522 Jimtown Road asking for help. Three dogs were spotted around Miller licking the wounds where she had been attacked, the report said.

Witnesses were able to take Miller to the hospital, where medical staff described her injuries as severe, noting her calf was “ripped off” and her arms were “barely attached to her body,” the report said.

The Cocke County Sheriff’s Office said it needed forensic evidence, like autopsy findings, to determine if animals were responsible in both cases and if so, what type of animals. So far, authorities have not said what type of animals they believe were involved.

Sheriff Armando Fontes was not yet willing to say the death of Miller was caused by an animal attack due to a pending autopsy report which we have yet to receive.

Charles Owensby was named the person of interest in the investigation involving Ahrens and Miller, according to Fontes.

Fontes originally told WVLT News on August 3, that the dog that was seized during a search warrant on Owensby had since been euthanized. He has since retracted that statement. He added that they’re still trying to determine if this attack happened outside a home or inside a home.

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