‘Dog of Death’: The horrific killing of Diane Whipple in San Francisco

On January 26, 2001, the residents of San Francisco were shocked by a brutal attack that took place in the hallway of an apartment building. The victim was Diane Whipple, a 33-year-old college lacrosse coach, who was mauled to death by two powerful dogs – a Presa Canario named Bane and a female Presa Canario named Hera. The incident sent shockwaves throughout the city and the country and raised serious questions about dog ownership and public safety. In this essay, we will examine the details and aftermath of the horrific killing of Diane Whipple in San Francisco.

Who was Diane Whipple?

Diane Whipple was a well-respected college lacrosse coach who had recently moved to San Francisco to take up a job as the athletic director at St. Mary’s College. She had played lacrosse at Penn State and later became a successful coach, leading teams to national championships. She was a charismatic and well-liked person, who had a bright future ahead of her. Her untimely death came as a shock to everyone who knew her.

The Events Leading Up to the Attack

On the day of the attack, Diane Whipple was returning to her home in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. She entered the lobby of her apartment building and waited for the elevator, not knowing that the two dogs – Bane and Hera – were also in the hallway, behind a closed door of an apartment. The owners of the dogs, attorneys Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel, had been keeping the dogs in their apartment, which was down the hall from Whipple’s. The two lawyers were acting as foster parents for the dogs, which had been bred as fighting dogs and were known to be aggressive and dangerous.

The Attack

When the elevator doors opened, Whipple stepped into the hallway and was immediately attacked by the two dogs. The dogs lunged at her, biting her neck, face, torso, arms, and legs. She managed to crawl away and tried to get into her apartment, but the dogs pursued her and dragged her back into the hallway. The attack was brutal and lasted for several minutes, during which time Whipple repeatedly screamed for help. Several neighbors heard her cries and tried to help by banging on the door of the owners’ apartment but to no avail. Finally, the police arrived and were able to restrain the dogs and rush Whipple to the hospital. Sadly, she died from her injuries before she could be treated.

The Aftermath of the Attack

The killing of Diane Whipple sparked a huge outcry and raised many questions about dog ownership and public safety. Knoller and Noel were charged with second-degree murder, and the trial became a media sensation. There was intense public scrutiny of the couple’s past and their ties to a notorious prison gang, leading to speculation about their involvement in dog fighting. The trial lasted for over a year and ended with Noel being convicted of involuntary manslaughter and Knoller being convicted of second-degree murder. They were both sentenced to long prison terms.

Lessons Learned

The tragic killing of Diane Whipple underscored the importance of responsible dog ownership and the need for stronger laws to protect the public from dangerous dogs. It also highlighted the risks associated with certain breeds of dogs that are prone to aggression and violence. In the aftermath of the attack, many cities and states passed laws requiring dog owners to register their dogs and take measures to prevent attacks. The case also sparked a debate about whether certain breeds of dogs, such as the Presa Canario, should be banned altogether.


The dog attack that killed Diane Whipple was a horrific and tragic event that left a lasting impact on San Francisco and the nation. The case highlighted the need for stronger laws to protect public safety and the importance of responsible dog ownership. Although the people responsible for the attack were held accountable, the loss of Diane Whipple’s life was a tragic reminder of the terrible consequences that can result from negligence and irresponsibility.

Read More: The Murder of Tynesha Stewart


Andrew is a professional writer with 7+ Years of experience. His style and uniqueness inspire and educate readers throughout the world.

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