LIPAN, TEXAS – Texas wildlife officials said on Sunday there was no evidence that a mountain lion or wildlife killed a 28-year-old man, challenging a medical examiner’s preliminary finding in the case.
“It appears we have two conflicting reports from two agencies who are experts in their fields,” the Hood County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Facebook Sunday.
The sheriff’s office said it would wait for the final autopsy report, but for now it was sticking to the preliminary conclusion from the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office, which ruled out a suicide and a homicide. The sheriff’s office had said earlier that preliminary findings from the autopsy indicated Christopher Allen Whiteley had died of an attack by wild animals, likely by a mountain lion.
The sheriff’s office said its investigation was continuing and investigators were collecting photos and statements from locals who saw and captured on filmed mountain lions.
The sheriff’s office said MPs found Whiteley’s body on Thursday, a day after she went missing near Lipan, 50 miles southwest of Fort Worth.
The Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife said in a statement Sunday afternoon that its experts had inspected the scene and found no evidence of a mountain lion attack at the scene.
“None of the evidence reviewed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department points to a predatory attack by a mountain lion or other wildlife,” TPWD spokeswoman Megan Radke said in an email.
TPWD said a biologist from the US Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services also came to the same conclusion as his staff.
TPWD notes that fatal mountain lion attacks on people are extremely rare and that in the past 100 years there have been less than 30 people killed by mountain lions in the United States. TWD said that he had no record of a confirmed fatal attack on a mountain lion in Texas, and no confirmed record of a mountain lion in Hood County.
Although confirmed mountain lion sightings are rare in North Texas, TPWD said on Tuesday that its biologists verified a sighting on private property in the town of Rowlett, a suburb of Dallas, more than 100 miles from the place where Whiteley was killed.
State wildlife officials said on Sunday that the confirmed sighting at Rowlett was not considered to be related to Whiteley’s death.