Woman and her dog found dead at Lawrence park

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Post updated at 8:15 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 9:

A 31-year-old woman and her dog were found dead Tuesday at Sandra J. Shaw Park in Lawrence.


Police found them “both beyond life saving measures” inside a tent near the pond at the park, according to a Facebook post from the Lawrence Police Department Tuesday evening.

Jenn Wolsey, an advocate and the former homeless programs coordinator for the city, told Lawrence city commissioners Tuesday evening that she does not share the names of people who died experiencing homelessness unless she knew their family was aware. This woman’s family was aware, Wolsey said.

Her name was Samantha Boyles, but she went by Sam. She was a mother, a sister, a wife, a friend and an advocate, and she had a dog named Max, Wolsey said. Boyles didn’t go to an indoor shelter because she didn’t want to separate from her Max, Wolsey said.

Wolsey said Boyles had her struggles, she had been living in homelessness for three years, and she didn’t deserve to “die unhoused in the cold in a place that continues to report having all the services in the world.”

Someone reported the death to police at 1:10 p.m. Tuesday, Sgt. Drew Fennelly said via email Tuesday afternoon.

“Officers interviewed several of the woman’s acquaintances, gathered evidence, and called in the Douglas County CSI Team to process the scene,” according to the post. “Officers on site report a strong odor of propane near the tent. The coroner will determine an official cause of death. The animal’s remains were transported to the humane society.”

Fennelly said Tuesday afternoon that “There has been no indication to suggest any foul play at this point, and the coroner scene investigators are currently on scene.”

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