Woman died from drug intoxication and bite wounds, autopsy indicates

— Three pit bulls once owned by a man who went on a shooting spree in his neighborhood likely contributed to the cause of a woman’s death in a pasture, according to reports released this week.

An autopsy determined that Jessica Norman, whose body was found in a pasture near her residence on April 30, died accidentally, primarily from methamphetamine intoxication. But it added that bites that appeared to come from a canine contributed to the death.

Those bites from the canine or canines came before Norman died, a Highlands County Sheriff’s Office report said.

At the time that Norman would have been in the pasture, neighbors saw the three pit bulls running loose, the report said, adding that the dogs at that time belonged to Lisa Hodge, the widow of Floyd Gene Hodge.

A Highlands County deputy fatally shot Floyd Gene Hodge in early March after Hodge had fired numerous shots at homes on the street where he lived. Neighbors calling about the shooting activity alerted deputies about Hodge’s dogs, saying the animals posed a threat, reports said.

Although the dogs were deemed dangerous and are believed subsequently to have contributed to Norman’s death, the Sheriff’s Office determined that no charges would be filed against Lisa Hodge because she kept the dogs in an enclosed space and was not immediately aware that the pit bulls escaped. The report said she was unaware the dogs were aggressive to humans.

The Sheriff’s Office spent considerable time investigating whether the dogs contributed to Norman’s death, the reports indicate.

“Based on evidence and information on hand, the focus of this investigation was directed to the possibility that Jessica Norman may have been attacked by dogs, specifically Lisa Hodge’s three dogs, which were documented off her property on the same day Jessica Norman was last seen. Furthermore, the location where Jessica Norman’s body was discovered was in close proximity to where it was believed Lisa Hodge’s dogs exited her property.”

The report said that investigators tried to prove through DNA evidence that Hodge’s dogs were the ones that bit Norman, but did not find sufficient evidence from the wounds to match the dog DNA with DNA evidence from the dogs.

“The hairs (found on her body) were determined to be canine in origin, but were unable to produce a DNA profile for any comparison,” the report said.

Nevertheless, the investigator concluded, that those dogs were responsible for the bites on her body.

“Based on the fact that Lisa Hodge’s dogs were documented at large on the same date Jessica Norman was last seen alive, acting in what has been described as a ‘very aggressive,’ manner towards several individuals, it is believed that Jessica Norman was attacked by the same dogs. To further substantiate this theory, canine hairs located on the body of Jessica Norman were consistent with the colors of these dogs. Also, the close proximity of where Jessica Norman’s body was located in reference to where Lisa Hodge’s dogs apparently exited the fenced property, supports this theory.”

The dogs, Cisco, Bruce Lee and Chloe, were euthanized, the report said.

Neighbors had reported that the dogs were vicious.

One woman reported that one of the dogs tried to jump over her fence and that she went into the house and alerted her husband, the report said. They then noticed that the three dogs in their yard, and as they stood at the front window one of the dogs lunged into the glass window, the report said.

That and other incidents occurred around the time that Norman was missing. Family members said that the fact they had not seen Norman for a couple of days wasn’t unusual. They said she has a history of using methamphetamine. At the time of her death, she was depressed over losing custody of a son, but family members said that she was not mentally ill.

They said that Norman would go into the pasture where her body was found to use wi-fi for her Kindle device. They also said she did art.

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