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  1. News

New details emerge in fatal dog attack on Clearwater 7-month-old

Lynnie, a female mixed breed dog, rests in a cage at Pinellas County Animal Services on Oct. 8 in Largo The dog was euthanized Friday. (DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times)

Pamela Maser was bringing the baby a bottle when the dog started barking.

Maser opened the kennel to take the dog outside. Instead, the retriever-hound mix ran toward 7-month-old Khloe Williams and attacked her.

Maser separated the two, but the damage was done. Doctors pronounced Khloe dead Oct. 5 at Mease Countryside Hospital.

The narrative is part of new details released Friday by Clearwater police. The dog was euthanized Friday morning, said Doug Brightwell, Pinellas County Animal Services director.

Police Chief Dan Slaughter said detectives are continuing to investigate the attack and will forward their findings to the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office to decide whether charges are warranted.

"It's an ugly case. Definitely injuries that I don't even want to …" Slaughter trailed off.

"It's an image I'm not going to get out of my mind for awhile."

Lawyers representing Khloe's mother, Shavon Grossman, are calling for a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation into the attack, asserting there are conflicts of interest for Slaughter's agency.

Since May, Khloe had been in the custody of Clearwater police Det. Jonathan Maser, who was her licensed foster parent. The attack occurred at the home of his parents, Pamela and Paul Maser, the latter of whom is a retired Clearwater deputy chief and currently works for the city as a part-time records reviewer.

Slaughter serves as treasurer on the Board of Directors for Directions for Living, a child welfare agency responsible for Khloe's case management.

"It doesn't pass the smell test," said attorney Nioti Koulianos. "They're glaring conflicts."

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Mother of baby killed by dog in foster care thought family would be reunited soon.

Slaughter said Friday he doesn't intend on relinquishing the investigation to the state law enforcement agency, saying his department is committed to a thorough investigation.

"Whether or not we have relationships, we are people responsible for gathering facts in an impartial way," he said. "We will do that."

The Maser family has not commented publicly. But Kevin Hayslett, a lawyer who confirmed Friday he is representing them, said they are mourning "an incredible loss."

The dog — who was named Lynnie at the shelter but who the Masers renamed Josie — had been around Khloe before, he said, as well as Jonathan and Melissa Masers' four other children, ages 8 to 15. She had never shown signs of aggression.

"This is a horrible, tragic, unforeseeable accident that you would not wish on any family, especially a wonderful family like the Masers," he said.

A Directions for Living official confirmed Friday that the agency handled Khloe's case management but did not have a role in assigning or screening the foster family.

"We are heartbroken to hear of the death of baby Khloe, in what seems to have been a tragic accident that occurred since our last contact with her," said Summer Gray, senior director of marketing and business development.

Grossman and her lawyers have questioned why Khloe was taken from Grossman's care to begin with. Koulianos said this week that Grossman's sister was willing to care for the child while Grossman found stable housing.

According to documents released Friday by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, which conducts child welfare investigations in Pinellas, Grossman and Khloe had been living with Grossman's sister. They got in a fight, and Grossman moved into a hotel.

While looking for housing and a job, she called her sister to see if she could care for Khloe in the meantime, according to the Sheriff's Office. Grossman's sister took in Khloe but told Grossman she couldn't stay with her.

Grossman bounced around to friends' houses. An investigator noted she, "had no real plan on when she was going to get Khloe from" her sister.

Grossman's sister told child protective workers that she would love to keep Khloe but said she knew it wasn't in her best interest, an investigator wrote.

Koulianos said Grossman's sister told him a different story, that she begged child protective investigators not to take Khloe.

"If that child wasn't removed," he said, "she would be alive today."

Contact Kathryn Varn at (727) 893-8913 or Follow @kathrynvarn.