A 70-year-old Joshua Tree resident who had for a time allowed a couple to live on her property was repaid in the most horrific of fashions on January 16 when the couple’s four dogs mauled her to death. The Sentinel has learned that the death of Lana Bergman is being investigated as a possible homicide, given the circumstances that preceded the mauling.
According to individuals familiar with the situation, in December, as a favor to a friend, Bergman had allowed a couple to bring a trailer in which they were living onto her property, located in the 59000 block of Sunflower Drive for what was initially said to be no more than ten days to two weeks.
To Bergman’s chagrin, however, the couple remained on her property for approaching a month. Adding to the problem was that Bergman owned a Labrador retriever and the couple had four pit bulls. On at least two occasions, one or more of the pit bulls attacked the Labrador.
Two weeks ago, Bergman requested that the couple vacate her property, to no avail. Bergman made multiple requests thereafter. Reportedly, on the morning of January 16, she again issued a demand that the couple leave the Yucca Mesa property. That night, while she was alone on the property with the dogs present but the couple having gone into town, the dogs attacked her. Deputies with the sheriff’s department were summoned to the scene at 10:11 p.m. Wednesday night. Bergman succumbed to her injuries shortly thereafter.
While the pit bulls’ owners have not been arrested in the incident, all four of the dogs are in the custody of San Bernardino County Animal Care & Control.
Given that Bergman had recently stepped up the effort to have couple evicted from
her property, there is a belief by some that the attack on Bergman may have been purposefully set up.
Family members said they believe that at the very least criminal negligence charges against the pit bulls’ owners are in order.
A sheriff’s department release on the death erroneously reported that Bergman was living on the property with her husband and that she had cared for the dogs. Neither is true, the Sentinel was told. Her estranged husband is currently living in Canada. Because of fears she had for her Labrador’s safety, Bergman had not allowed the dogs near her dwelling.
The case, designated as No. 091900080, is being investigated by detectives from the Morongo Basin Station, assisted by the homicide detail.