Dog owners’ apartment searched

The Associated Press
Saturday February 10, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO — Investigators have searched the apartment of the owners of the dogs that fatally attacked their neighbor, Diane Whipple, outside her apartment two weeks ago. 

KGO-TV is reporting that investigators searched the apartment of Robert Noel and Marjorie Knoller on Friday and removed boxes of evidence. It is not clear what was recovered. 

“I only wish it were done sooner,” said Michael Cardoza, an attorney for Sharon Smith, Whipple’s partner. “Now that the D.A.’s homicide team is involved, we’re pleased.” 

Whipple died Jan. 26 in her apartment hallway after being attacked by the two mastiff-Canary Island dogs.  

Prosecutors are still mulling charges against Noel and Knoller, who are both attorneys. 

In another development, police said they have solid evidence that one of the dogs had a history of biting. 

A former tenant of the Pacific Heights building was passing by the dogs when one of them lunged and bit him. Police Lt. Henry Hunter said the skin was not broken, but there was swelling and bruising. 

The owners of the dogs are under investigation to determine if they knew of any dangerous tendencies the animals might have had, according to District Attorney Terence Hallinan.  

He has said they could face manslaughter charges in Whipple’s death under a state law regarding dogs trained to fight, attack or kill. 

Cardoza expects to file suit against the couple within a month. 

The canines involved in Whipple’s death are part of a fighting-dog ring in which dogs were bred for such jobs as protecting illicit drug labs.  

The ring was run by two white supremacist inmates at Pelican Bay State Prison, and in a bizarre twist, Noel and Knoller recently adopted one of the inmates, 38-year-old Paul John Schneider.