Dogs killed, mutilated elderly couple found near Athens

A former college professor and his wife were apparently attacked and killed by nearly a dozen dogs along a rural northeast Georgia road where their bodies were found mutilated, authorities said Monday.

Preliminary autopsy results from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation showed Sherry Schweder, 65, likely died of injuries suffered in a dog attack, Oglethorpe County Sheriff Mike Smith said. Autopsy results for her husband, Lothar Karl Schweder, 77, were not yet available, but Smith said it's likely he was also attacked by dogs because the scene was so grisly.

Smith said officials were going to round up at least 11 dogs seen in the area where the couple's mutilated bodies were found Saturday morning by five passers-by.

It wasn't immediately clear whether the mixed-breed dogs, which are to be captured by animal control officers from neighboring Madison County, were feral or someone's pets. There had been no recent complaints about vicious dogs in the area, Smith said.

Stephanie Shain, a spokeswoman for the Humane Society of the United States, said it was "uncommon" for people to be bitten to death by dogs, citing federal figures that the average number of fatal dog bites each year is 16.

The bodies were found along a dirt road near the couple's home in Lexington and had been there for at least 24 hours before they were found, said county coroner James Mathews.

A family friend told the Athens Banner-Herald that Lothar Karl Schweder was a retired professor who had taught German at the University of Georgia, which is about 20 miles (32 kilometers) away in Athens.

UGA German Department head Martin Kagel said he didn't know Lothar Karl Schweder and that no one currently with the department knew him. However, he said it might be possible Schweder worked there part time or worked there more than 20 years ago.

Sherry Schweder was a bibliographer at the university's library, where she had worked since 1974, selecting books and journals for the school's humanities collection, said university librarian William Potter.

A message left at a number listed for the couple's other son, who lives in Aiken, S.C., was not immediately returned.

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