ALBQUERQUE (AP) — Relatives of an 8-year-old boy fatally mauled by dogs as he played in the snow in a small community in northwestern New Mexico says there were no screams or barks that would have alerted them to the attack.
Keith Comosono and Tomas Jay Henio's mother were caring for the boy's three younger brothers in their Pinehill home Wednesday when they learned the 8-year-old wasn't at a relative's nearby residence, he said.
Comosono said he and Yolanda Henio then found the boy, who was already dead.
"We don't know exactly how it happened," Comosono told the Albuquerque Journal on Sunday. "We just know the dogs attacked him."
The family dog and eight strays were rounded up and euthanized.
The boy's body was taken to Albuquerque for an autopsy. The Office of the Medical Investigator said Monday it did not have any information to release.
The FBI is investigating the boy's death because it occurred on Navajo Nation land. FBI spokesman Frank Fisher did not immediately return calls Monday from The Associated Press.
The Navajo Nation, like many reservations, has long had a problem with roaming stray, feral and neglected dogs.
After a 55-year-old man was found mauled to death two years ago in a small community near Gallup, a Navajo Nation official in 2011 estimated there were four to five dogs for each of the more than 89,000 households. That's many as 445,000 dogs, most of which roam free, killing livestock and biting people with alarming regularity.
Comosono said the holiday season from now on will carry haunting memories of his stepson.
"He was smart, happy," Comosono said. "Always curious about what was going to happen next."