911 call: Man horrified after finding woman dead, killed by cougar
SHERWOOD, Ore. - When a woman was discovered dead at a local wildlife sanctuary, the man who found her could not believe what had happened.
In a frantic 9-1-1 call from Michael Tully, owner of the WildCat Haven sanctuary in Sherwood, you can hear him running with a phone in hand to the enclosure while talking to a dispatcher. It is difficult to make out some of what was said during the call, but here is a portion of it:
Caller: I have a keeper at Wildcat Haven who was attacked, I guess. I just got home here and I think she's dead.
9-1-1 Operator: How was she attacked?
Caller: We rescue cats and... pardon me?
9-1-1 Operator: She was attacked by a cat?
Caller: I believe. OK. By a cougar, I believe. I'm going back down. I've got to go back down to her, OK? She's down in the enclosure. I'm going down to get her. Can you hear me? I'm on a cordless phone, it's going to run out in a minute here.
9-1-1 Operator: Ok sir, she's in the cat enclosure?
Caller: She's in the cat enclosure. I'm going to get her out right now. I'm going to lose you here, OK? Do you hear me?
9-1-1 Operator: I can hear you.
Caller: We have a gate.
9-1-1 Operator: How do we get into the gate?
*Instructions are bleeped out*
Caller: I can't see. I'm going back down. Oh my God. Oh my God, Renee. Oh my God.
9-1-1 Operator: Sir, are you in a safe position to be able to go in by yourself? We don't want you to get injured. We don't want you to get hurt.
Caller: Get out of here! Go! Go! Go! Go! Oh my God! Oh my God, Renee. Oh my God, Renee. Oh my God, Renee. Oh my God!
The 36-year-old woman, an employee at the sanctuary, was killed last Saturday. The sheriff's office concluded there was no crime to be investigated.
The owners said Radziwon-Chapman had gone against protocol when she went inside the cage while no one else was at the facility.
However, Morgan Keniston, a former board member and donor for WildCat Haven, said it was common for Radziwon-Chapman and the owners to go in the cage alone. She said they would use a rake as defense and not take the time to secure all the animals in the lockout area before going in the cages.
"Renee was the main keeper of those animals and she was put under a ton of pressure to constantly be the one taking care of those animals," Keniston said.
When asked whether keepers always went inside the cages in pairs, Keniston said "No, no no - that's a blatant lie."
Keniston said she remembers Renee having scratches on her arms and neck, and that the woman had even gone to the hospital a couple of years ago.
She had her throat kind of ripped," she said. "They blamed it on a dog because they didn't want the insurance company to find out."
Radziwon-Chapman's mother said her daughter expressed safety concerns, saying she was often left alone, just days before her death.
"She really, really loved those animals, but she had no help," Keniston said.
Keniston was asked to resign from the WildCat Haven board in 2010. She said they accused her of making slanderous remarks at a social event, which she denies.
We called the sanctuary to ask about Keniston's comments. Their spokesman said they have no comment. Keniston said what happened in 2010 is not why she is speaking up now.
"I could have done something in those two or three years to retaliate," she said. "I'm not retaliating. Somebody lost their life who didn't need to lose their life."
WildCat Haven houses tigers, cougars and other predators. The facility is not open to the public, but does provide on-site tours to donors. The facility has nearly 60 cats, including four tigers, according to its website.