A caretaker who was found dead Friday on Ving Rhames' Brentwood property after being mauled by the actor's dogs may not have died from the wounds he suffered in the attack, Los Angeles authorities say.
The 40-year-old man, whom Los Angeles County Coroner's officials identified as Jacob Adams, was covered in dog bites, according to police, but it could have been a heart attack or other medical condition that actually killed him.
"There's no doubt he was attacked by the dogs," said the Los Angeles Police Department's Lt. Ray Lombardo. "Whether or not the coroner can determine that the mauling actually caused the death, or the mauling contributed to him having a heart attack, that's a decision the coroner will have to determine."
Police said they spied at least six dogs on the property when they arrived, but that only four—three bull mastiffs and an English bulldog—were running loose.
At least two of those four were thought to be involved in the attack. All four were removed from the Brentwood residence Friday by animal control and are currently being held in quarantine, pending an investigation. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday, after which the authorities will decide what happens to the dogs.
The victim, who according to police lived on Rhames' property and had worked for the Pulp Fiction star for two years, was found at about 7:15 a.m. in the estate's gated front yard. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.
Authorities say the attack occurred sometime overnight. It looked as if it began on the east side of the property and that the caretaker managed to run to the front yard and close a gate behind him, before collapsing on the front lawn.
"Big as the lions at the circus," was how police described the dogs. Neighbors have said that they never felt threatened by the animals and characterized them as generally friendly. One neighbor's daughter told the Los Angeles Times she had seen Rhames and his kids playing with the dogs, including a 200-pound bull mastiff named Bruno, out on the lawn about two weeks ago.
Per the Website fataldogattacks.com, there have been nine deaths caused by dog bites so far in 2007, none of them in California.
"Law enforcement has reported on stories before, where homeowners have had their dogs, what they call family dogs, turn on them or their children. This appears to be another tragic incident along those same lines," Lombardo said.
Rhames is currently in Germany working on a film and has not yet been reached for comment.