Red Zone: The Behind-the-Scenes Story of the San Francisco Dog Mauling

Red Zone: The Behind-the-Scenes Story of the San Francisco Dog Mauling

by Aphrodite Jones

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In January 2001, Diane Alexis Whipple bled to death in the hallway of her ritzy Pacific Heights apartment building when she was mauled by two attack dogs imported from the Canary Islands. After the lethal attack, animal experts testified that the dogs could not have been stopped, explaining that they had entered a frenzy called the "Red Zone."

Now, New York

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In January 2001, Diane Alexis Whipple bled to death in the hallway of her ritzy Pacific Heights apartment building when she was mauled by two attack dogs imported from the Canary Islands. After the lethal attack, animal experts testified that the dogs could not have been stopped, explaining that they had entered a frenzy called the "Red Zone."

Now, New York Times bestselling author Aphrodite Jones goes behind the scenes of this gruesome tale, revealing details of this bizarre and horrific case. Jones shows that this mauling was only one part of a frightening story involving obsession, bestiality, and illegal dog rings. The dogs belonged to Whipple's neighbors, lawyers Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel, who had kept them for an inmate whom they had represented in court and later adopted as their son.

Jones is a masterful investigator and writer who has pierced the heart of this macabre and tragic killing. Red Zone is a page-turning account that takes us deep into the relationship between man and animal.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In her sixth true crime book (after The Embrace), Jones displays a remarkable ability to present an enormous amount of detailed information in a thrilling narrative that is neither sensationalistic nor maudlin. Still, this is a shocking tale, as Jones provides a no-holds-barred investigation into the brutal death of 33-year-old Diane Whipple after being mauled when savage dogs owned by lawyers Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel entered the "red zone," a nonscientific term used to describe dogs "in the height of attack mode... beyond human control." The incident immediately received major national news attention, and Jones elaborates on the sordid details that emerged, including that the lawyers bred killer dogs to be sold to guard illegal methamphetamine labs, a scheme run from behind bars by Paul Schnieder, an Aryan Brotherhood member whom the lawyers not only represented but later adopted as part of a planned bizarre sexual triangle. Combining investigative reporting with exclusive access to Noel as well as to members of the San Francisco Police Department and the district attorney's office, Jones explores the lawyers' self-styled gothic world, a human "red zone" involving pornography and bestiality that had existed well before the death of Diane Whipple. With its graphic descriptions, this book is not for the squeamish. (July) Forecast: Jones already has an attentive audience that will eagerly greet this work, but the high profile of the crime and Jones's ability to tell intelligently an already compelling story could bring this true crime work to a larger audience. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
On January 26, 2001, beautiful Diane Whipple was brutally mauled by two dogs outside the door of her San Francisco apartment and died later that night. The death was a tragedy, but the story behind it was a horror. True-crime author Jones (The FBI Killer) offers a full account of Whipple, the dogs, and their owners. Criminal defense attorneys Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel, who kept the dogs, proved to be in business with Paul "Cornfed" Schneider, a member of the Aryan Brotherhood serving a life sentence, to breed Presa Canarios for sale as guard dogs. Presas were bred for fighting in the Canary Islands and could be violent and unpredictable, and Knoller and Noel were known to have trouble controlling them. They stood trial on criminal charges and were eventually convicted of involuntary manslaughter. The writing is workmanlike, and at times the book feels padded with unnecessary details, but the grim and fascinating story will keep readers riveted. For all true-crime collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/15/03.]-Deirdre Bray Root, Middletown P.L., OH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Crime writer Jones (The Embrace, 1999, etc.) details every creepy circumstance that led to last year�s notorious San Francisco dog mauling. On a winter day in 2001, Diane Whipple was torn to pieces at her apartment doorstep by her neighbors� dogs. Presa Canarios have been bred for centuries to be tough, but the dogs in this case are hardly worse than the unsavory trio whose relationship is the primary focus of Jones�s reporting: lawyers Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel, who were caring for the animals, and Paul Schnieder, the man who owned them. A jailed Aryan Brotherhood honcho ("good at making bad things happen, [he] lived to create death, ruin, and destruction"), Schnieder may having been arranging to breed his pets for the dog-fight circuit. As Jones describes it, the convict does pretty much what he chooses from his maximum-security cell at Pelican Bay State Prison, including possibly ordering hits on enemies. Knoller and Noel began by representing Schnieder, then exchanged erotic letters and photographs, and ultimately adopted him. Stranger still was the lawyers� refusal to intervene when the animals in their charge got out of hand during neighborhood walks and attacked other dogs. It�s all very nasty—the fungoid lawyers, the odious Schnieder in the shadows, the wicked dogs—and Jones keeps the sinister beat thrumming along with prose that has a dark vitality. She makes a few strange comments, saying of erroneous reports concerning a prosecutor�s past, "in reality . . . readers and viewers didn�t care about the truth." But in general she lines up her facts carefully and strives for objectivity, even though the word "innocence" simply doesn't apply to Knoller or Noel (andforget about Schnieder). Here�s more good news: Schnieder still operates out of his office at Pelican Bay. Rarely has the phrase "safely behind bars" meant so little. Terrifying, and told just so. (b&w photo insert, not seen) Agent: Matt Bialer/Trident Media

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.48(w) x 7.14(h) x 1.27(d)

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Red Zone

The Behind-the-Scenes Story of the San Francisco Dog Mauling
By Aphrodite Jones

Harper Collins Publishers

Copyright © 2003 Aphrodite Jones All right reserved. ISBN: 0060537795

Chapter One

Esther Birkmaier held her breath as she walked toward the peephole of her heavy wooden door. It was a small peephole that allowed her to look at a person's face on the other side, and she was headed there because she could hear strange wild barking. She had gotten up from her dining room table to see what all the racket was, her heart pounding as she moved her head closer inch by inch.

Ever since she was a kid, Esther was afraid of dogs, especially large dogs, and this barking coming from the other end of the hall was giving her a sick feeling. It sounded frantic, but also eerie, and it reminded her of the terrible incident she had with a dog when she was a child. Esther was a frail seventy-something woman, living alone, and strange noises always bothered her. Usually she had nothing to worry about, but this crazed howling was different. It had an energy attached to it that scared her to death.

As Esther stood straining to see out of her peephole, the barking getting progressively worse, she realized it sounded like there were two dogs out there. But she couldn't see them. She had no vision of the ground directly outside her doorway, so she kept scanning the hallway for anykind of image, hoping to catch some kind of glimpse.

The barking and growling was ferocious. Esther couldn't imagine what was going on. It sounded like grumblings. It sounded like wild beasts. Then all of a sudden she heard a voice cry out:

"Help me ... "

And even with the barking getting louder and louder and more vicious, Esther heard the voice again:

"Help me ... "

At that moment Esther's eyes moved toward the other end of the hallway where she could see a body lying on the floor. She could barely make it out, but it appeared to be a woman's body, a woman's body with white clothes, and it was lying on the floor with the top of the head on the threshold of apartment 606. Esther could see the woman's head there and she could see the top part of the body, just about to the waist, but she couldn't see anything more. It appeared the woman was lying facedown, but Esther couldn't be sure. There was a peculiar dark object that covered the rest of the body, and all Esther could identify was lumps of long blond hair.

The dark object that covered the body was not human, at least Esther didn't think so. The dark form seemed to cover the middle part of the woman's body, and Esther kept watching but she wasn't sure what it was she was looking at. Everything looked fuzzy and far away, distorted through the narrow scope of her peephole.

What was weird was that the dark object was very still, the woman's body was very still, yet there was still loud barking coming from the hallway. Esther was shaking, her heart pounding, and she took a step back from the door and tried to compose herself. Then she took a deep breath, went over to her kitchen, and grabbed the phone.

911: What's your emergency? Esther: There are dogs barking in my hallway and it's very loud ... I don't know if anyone is hurt ... but.
911: Well, is it an emergency, ma'am? Esther: I'm really not sure.
911: If it's not an emergency, ma'am, you should call your local police department.  

Esther tried dialing the local number 911 dispatch had given her, but she had no time to wait for someone to pick up. She was getting increasingly panicked as the barking suddenly moved closer to her front door. The next thing she knew, there were bodies crashing against her apartment, there was banging, such hard banging, that Esther thought the crashing might break her door down.

Without thinking, Esther ran back to her door, the crashing getting more furious, and she took a split second to look out again. This time, she could see nothing but groceries scattered out in the hallway. Esther quickly latched the inside chain to her door, hoping that would hold off the wild pounding, hoping the dogs wouldn't break into her apartment. If the door started to break down, she decided, the chain would at least give her enough time to lock herself into her bathroom.

When Esther grabbed the phone a second time to dial 911, the loud banging in the background was obvious, and now she told police she was sure someone was being attacked. She reported that she heard a woman's shrill voice outside yelling, "Get off! Get off!" and told the dispatcher it was the voice of her longtime neighbor, Marjorie, who owned two very large scary dogs. This time Esther didn't need to say anything more. Police were being sent to the scene right away.

Esther went near her front door one last time, hoping the growling and barking and snarling would stop. But it was endless, it seemed, and it made her heart pound right out of her chest. For Esther, it seemed like an eternity, and police had still not arrived. She was beyond panic, praying that someone would get there, when all of a sudden Esther heard a voice giving commands.

"Stop it!" the voice shrieked. "I said stop it!"

And all at once, the barking, the banging, the snarling, all of it just stopped.

It was quiet when Esther went to her window. She just stood there waiting for police. At first, it must have seemed surreal, as though everything was happening in black and white. Esther stayed glued to her window as she watched two policewomen pull up to her building. It would feel like forever, but eventually a half-dozen patrol units would arrive and park downstairs on Pacific ...


Excerpted from Red Zone by Aphrodite Jones
Copyright © 2003 by Aphrodite Jones
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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