WAS A COUP ATTEMPTED AT AHA, OR WAS IT A RUMOR?
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 1997:
Association board members Charles Granoski
Jr., Harold Dates, and Judy Lang on October
16 and 17 all denied either knowing about or
being part of an alleged coup d’etat that ANIMAL
PEOPLE was told was in planning,
involving them at alleged instigation of Denver
Dumb Friends League executive director Bob
Rohde––who also denied knowing about it
Executives of four major humane
societies relayed tips about the alleged coup to
ANIMAL PEOPLE in mid-October––just
before the October 26 AHA annual meeting,
preceding the AHA conference in Philadelphia.
The alleged plot was supposedly
engineered by Humane Society of the U.S.
president Paul Irwin, who did not respond to a
request for comment. The strategy, ANIMAL
PEOPLE was told by multiple sources, was to
cut loose the AHA children’s division, give
the AHA role of supervising animal use in
films to the American SPCA, and merge the
rest of the AHA into HSUS––under Rohde.
Then-AHA animal protection division
head Dennis White told ANIMAL PEOPLE
in October 1993 that shelter support programs
might soon be given to HSUS, about a
year before resigning under fire to become
HSUS Southwest Regional Director. Insiders
told ANIMAL PEOPLE that White’s successor,
Ed Sayres, was ousted earlier this year
for wanting to cut loose the children’s division,
and for holding unauthorized talks with HSUS
and ASPCA executives about similar program
transfers, apparently with some board support.
Critical of AHA for co-hosting the
1996 No Kill Conference, Rohde is said to
have told associates as far back as spring that
he would boycott this year’s AHA conference
if policies were not amended to his liking. He
reputedly told AHA executives and board
members that the AHA should choose between
roles in child protection and animal protection.
Founded in 1876, the AHA has had
parallel child protection and animal protection
divisions since 1878, in recognition that both
children and animals are frequently helpless
victims of similar crimes.
Among recent incidents reinforcing
awareness of the association of violence
toward animals with crimes against people:
• In Montrose, Pennsylvania,
Stephen Scher, M.D., 56, on trial for murder,
testified October 6 that he shotgunned
attorney Martin Dillon, then 30, on June 2,
1976 in a fight over an affair Scher was having
with Dillon’s wife Patricia; pretended the
killing was a hunting accident; and married
Patricia Dillon two years later. Former Dillon
family babysitter Cindy Klein, now 36, testified
on October 14 that Martin Dillon came
home a few nights before the killing, apparently
after drinking, and while driving her home,
said “he was going to take Dr. Scher up to his
hunting cabin and kill him. He said no jury in
this town would convict him,” D i n a h
Wisenbeg Brin of Associated Press reported,
because Dillon was from a prominent local
family while Scher was a Jewish newcomer.
Scher was charged after Dillon’s father asked
authorities to reopen the 21-year-old case.
Dillon’s children, M i c h a e l and S u z a n n e
D i l l o n, have reportedly used Martin Dillon’s
$100,000 life insurance policy to defend Scher.
• David Clark Elliott, 11, of
Bartow, Florida, on September 26 pleaded
no contest to misdemeanor cruelty for killing a
dog with a weed cutter on August 14, and to
witness tampering for later threatening one of
the dogs’ owners. Polk County Circuit
Judge Daniel True Andrews accepted the no
contest plea after learning that codefendant
Frederick Martin IV, 13, is scheduled to be
tried in February 1998 on felony charges of
allegedly sexually mutilating a ram and four
pigs plus breaking-and-entering in Ossippee,
New Hampshire. Andrews voided a plea bargain
under which Martin IV would have served
a sentence in parental custody in exchange for
testifying against Elliott, and asked that perjury
charges be brought against Martin’s parents,
Janet and Frederick Martin III for concealing
the previous case from the court.
Martin IV reportedly has an IQ of 57.
• As the Elliott/Martin case was in
the news, police in Brandon, Mississippi,
released parts of an essay allegedly written by
Luke T. Woodham, 16, describing how he
and Grant Boyette, 18, in April 1997 sadistically
killed Woodham’s dog. Woodham on
October 1 allegedly stabbed to death his mother
Mary Ann Woodham, 50, then took his
hunting rifle to school, killed C h r i s t i n a
Menefee, 16, and Lydia Kaye Dew, 17, and
wounded seven other students. Six students
were charged with plotting the massacre.
Boyette and Donald Brooks II were also
charged with plotting to kill Brooks’ father.
• Albuquerque police were seeking
a man who shot at a stray dog with a pistol
from inside a car on October 15, killing
Norma Barrios, 33, as she sat with a coworker
near a memorial to homicide victims.
• Avid hunter Gerald R. Mayer,
50, shotgunned his wife Theresa A. (Herbst)
M a y e r, 37, at close range on August 28 in
Moline, Illinois, then killed himself. Theresa
Mayer was active in the Tri-Cities Kennel Club
and Irish Setter Club of America.
• Purportedly beaten by Reephe
Christopher Hopkins, 29, for kicking his
sister’s dog two days earlier, Harold Edwin
L e e, 43, was charged with murder on
September 22 in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, for
allegedly fetching a gun and killing Hopkins.
• Prosecutor Tom Campbell of
Carbon County, Wyoming, on September 8
dropped misdemanor cruelty and vehicular
charges against Vikki Kittles alias R e n e e
D e p e n b r o c k, 49, to avoid a protracted and
costly trial. Kittles/Depenbrock also faces
felony charges of trespassing and property
destruction in Sweetwater County. All the
charges pertain to alleged animal collecting.
Known for defending herself in jury trials of
great length, Kittles/Depenbrock has previously
been in trouble for alleged animal collecting
in Florida, Mississippi, Colorado, Oregon,
and Washington, with related convictions in
Florida and Oregon, and has long been suspected
but not charged in the 1986 disappearance
of her mother, Jean Sullivan.