HOUSTON – People from all walks of life gathered at Park Place Methodist Church Tuesday to remember a woman who faced a tough life and a violent death.
Christina Burleson Bell, 43, was mauled to death by pit bulls in the early hours of Monday morning.
Grieving family members sat on the front row as they looked back on a life spent largely on the streets.
"She had a home, a mother and family, but to her being independent was being out on the streets," said Deborah McKenzie, Burleson’s aunt. "We brought her home many times and she had to leave and come back to her friends."
Bell was a woman known for her love of animals, which makes the circumstances of her death even more difficult to accept.
"She had gotten some pie and she was taking it to the dogs," McKenzie said. "She loved dogs. If she had a hamburger, she would have given up her own food to give it to the dog.
Family members say they don’t blame the dogs for the attack. They blame the owners, who have received citations from animal control.
One of the animals involved in the attack has been quarantined at the city shelter. But at this point, it’s unclear whether prosecutors will have enough evidence to press criminal charges.
In the meantime, family members struggle with the thought of Bell’s last minutes.
"I can’t even begin to imagine and her trying to figure out, ‘why?’" McKenzie said.
Why and how an animal she loved so dearly could turn so violent.