LILLE, France (AFP) — A pregnant Frenchwoman who died while walking in the woods during a deer hunt was killed by her partner’s dog and not the hunting hounds, a source close to the probe and a hunting club said Tuesday after DNA testing.
Elisa Pilarski, 29, lost her life while out walking her partner’s pitbull Curtis in Retz forest northeast of Paris in November 2019.
She was six months pregnant at the time. The mysterious circumstances of the case sparked huge interest in France and became a cause latched on to by pro- and anti-hunting advocates.
Suspicion initially fell on the hunting hounds, but Amiens prosecutor Eric Boussuge said DNA tests on 67 of them, along with veterinary examinations, showed the “sole involvement” of her partner’s dog Curtis in the attack.
Boussuge added that the dog had been imported into France illegally from the Netherlands and trained to attack using techniques banned in France.
A source close to the investigation, who asked not to be named, told AFP that the pitbull’s DNA was found on Pilarski’s dog bites and added that her DNA was also found on his leash.
Just before the attack Pilarski had phoned her partner, Christophe Ellul, to tell him that she had come across threatening dogs and had difficulty keeping Curtis on his leash.
Ellul arrived on the scene around 45 minutes later to find her body in a ravine, next to Curtis and a pack of hounds.
Her clothes had been torn off.
Ellul accused the hounds over her death, allegations the hunting club vigorously denied.
“The results of the DNA tests definitively confirm the innocence of the dogs (hounds),” the Rallye La Passion club said.
Pilarski’s mother said her daughter had never been alone with Curtis before.
After Pilarski’s death, Curtis went on to bite a person at a dog pound.
© Agence France-Presse