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After murder-suicide, where are the dogs?

ST. PETERSBURG — It has been a month since William Brown Wood Jr. took his own life and the life of ex-wife Donna Aline Havard Wood, authorities say.

Mrs. Wood, 54, was found shot dead in her Snell Isle home on May 22. Police officers checked on her after discovering her ex-husband's body floating in a Tierra Verde canal earlier that day. He was also dead of a gunshot wound.

William Wood, 53, often spoke of taking his own life, his girlfriend said, and hurting his ex-wife at the same time. The couple's 25-year marriage officially ended in 2005. The later years of the union, though, were marked by discord, protective orders, separation and four divorce filings.

But Mrs. Wood may not have been her ex-husband's only victim.

His two dogs, Cindy and Shadow, haven't been seen since his death.

"Sometimes I think he dropped them off somewhere, but I fear they're gone," said Wood's girlfriend, Mariela Lucas. "If you knew Billy, those were his babies. He would never leave them with anybody.

"If he was going to do something drastic, he was going to take them with him."

• • •

Cindy is a 7-year-old white Labrador; Shadow, a 9-year-old black Labrador. They lived in Tierra Verde with Wood, Lucas and her two children.

Lucas told the St. Petersburg Times that Wood often talked of suicide, but she never took it seriously.

As she slept the night before his death, Wood cleaned out his belongings from their Tierra Verde home, even taking down most of his pictures off the family room wall.

"He removed everything from the house that was his so I wouldn't have to clean it up," she said. "But he also removed the puppy food."

• • •

The dogs disappeared along with their owner, authorities say. The pets were not inside the Snell Isle home where Mrs. Wood was found, according to St. Petersburg police spokesman Bill Proffitt.

The dogs weren't found near Wood's body in a canal down the street from his Tierra Verde home either, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

When the Woods were discovered dead on May 22, St. Petersburg police found the body of a large dog locked inside a trunk floating in a bayou near Snell Isle.

William Wood's family told police that the dog wasn't one of his. That case remains unsolved.

But the family did tell police that they don't believe Wood would have hurt the dogs, according to Proffitt.

• • •

Lucas said she and her friends have tried looking for the dogs, even calling local shelters.

"My kids and I always go around to the same places where we used to walk the dogs," she said, "but nothing."

Lucas said detectives told her that the murder-suicide case is closed. There is no official investigation into the fate of the dogs.

"We have no idea what he would do with the dogs," she said, "except take them with him."

Jamal Thalji can be reached at jthalji@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8472.

After murder-suicide, where are the dogs? 06/30/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 30, 2009 4:30am]
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