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Mauled to Death by a Pit Bull, Adonis Reddick Was Still Nobody's Victim 

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click to enlarge Adonis Reddick became an organizer and activist for equal rights for people with disabilities. - COURTESY ST. LOUIS ARC
  • Adonis Reddick became an organizer and activist for equal rights for people with disabilities.

Adonis was alone when he died.

Danielle, who'd given birth to a little girl six months before, had recently moved to Austin, Texas, where her boyfriend's mother lived. A big catalyst was Milow. Danielle had made her peace with dogs in general, but she still feared the brown-and-white pit bull. She had her reasons.

The dogs lived primarily in the sunroom at the back of the house. One day, Milow spotted Danielle's baby daughter, Aubrey, through the glass sliding door.

"He just went crazy and scared the mess out of me," Danielle says.

Danielle told her father what happened and pleaded with him to get rid of the dog, but he refused. Adonis thought Milow, while aggressive, was manageable. He worried if they passed off the dog to a shelter, he would jump on someone and that would be it. They'd have the dog euthanized. And he'd given his word that he'd take care of Milow.

Aaron Reddick knew how stubborn his son could be. Adonis had long ago learned to trust in himself and push forward where others assumed he would have to retreat.

In the days before his death, he called his father to ask for some advice. There was a junk car parked in his driveway, and he wanted it gone. He said he'd tried calling police, but they wouldn't tow a car parked on private property.

Adonis refused to tell his father how the car got there, but Aaron assumed his son had tried to help someone out with a place to park for a couple of days and the deadbeat probably never came back. The father sometimes suspected his son's generosity led people to take advantage of him, but he also knew it was useless to argue with him about it. Adonis wouldn't bend.

Instead, he told Adonis he'd bring over his two-ton jack and push the car to the curb. That was Saturday. Aaron called his other son, Achilles, and they made plans to meet at the house on Monday.

What happened in the next 48 hours is hazy. Relatives talked to Adonis on Sunday, and a friend was on his way to meet him on Monday morning when he ran into Aaron and Achilles in the driveway of Adonis' house.

The Reddicks had started jacking up the car, assuming Adonis would come out when he heard the noise. Once they had it lifted, they asked the friend to help them wheel it out of the drive. The three pushed and shoved the clunker to the curb, sweating and joking about Adonis back in the house, pretending he couldn't hear them.

"We're all laughing," Aaron Reddick recalls. "I know he's playing jokes on us."

Adonis had two sets of doorbells, and his father punched both of them at the same time. Let Adonis pretend he didn't hear that. When he still didn't respond, Aaron fished out a set of keys and opened the door.

The mood quickly changed once the three men were inside. They could hear the roar of the dogs as they passed through the narrow hallway into the dining room.

"I stepped around the corner, and then I see him lying in a pool of blood," Aaron says.

The sunroom door was open, and Milow was back against the glass, barking wildly, his teeth bared in the dim light. Adonis was sprawled out on the floor, gashes in his throat. His fist was raised by his head.

Achilles grabbed a chair to fight off Milow. Aaron hoped his firstborn was only badly wounded, but when he reached down to drag him to safety, he felt the stiffening of rigor mortis.

Aaron found a snow shovel and helped Achilles drive Milow back into the sunroom and lock the door. Someone called 911. Aaron draped a cloth over his son's body.

St. Louis County police arrived along with Animal Control officers. Aaron watched them enter with a dog catcher's pole. He says he knew it wouldn't be enough; the pit bull was in a rage. Moments later, he heard the sound of one gunshot and then one more.

He spoke to the police after it was over.

"I know I'm not supposed to move the body," he told them, "but I couldn't leave him with the dog."

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