(UPDATED) Medical Examiner: Holly Boyd Is Dead

She was on probation after killing her Chihuahua puppy in Fridley last year.

UPDATED BELOW. According to the Anoka County Medical Examiner's office, Holly Boyd, the woman convicted of animal cruelty for killing her Chihuahua puppy at her Fridley apartment last year, has died.

A release from the medical examiner Monday afternoon identifies the decedant as "Holly Cheatham (Boyd)." The place of death is an address on Peters Place in Columbia Heights. The cause and manner of death are pending the results of an autopsy, according to the release.

Holly Boyd was on Nov. 29 for a felony crime of throwing the dog against a piece of furniture and causing its death last March.

At the sentencing, both her public defender and the assistant county attorney described Boyd's mental health as among the worst they had seen.

The case drew international media attention as well as in Anoka.

Word of her death broke over the last few days at a Facebook page devoted to Boyd receiving the maximum legal penalty.

Update (3:30 p.m. Monday): One of the commenters at the Facebook page identified herself as Boyd's mother. Interviewed by phone Monday afternoon, Kelly Cheatham of Greenbrier, TN, gave a fuller picture of Boyd's life and the days leading to her death.

Cheatham said she spoke by phone to Boyd every day, including on Sunday, Jan. 22, when she said Boyd "was really excited" about delivery of a new cell phone that was set for the following day.

On Thursday, after several days had passed without telephone contact, Cheatham said, she reported Boyd missing to police in Columbia Heights where she had moved.

Within three hours, she said, police called to tell her they had found Boyd dead in the bathroom of her apartment and suspected she had been dead since late Sunday or early Monday.

Columbia Heights Police Capt. Lenny Austin said by email that until "the cause and manner of death are released we will be unable to release any reports regarding the case."

Update (4 p.m. Monday): Cheatham said Boyd had just turned 29 and was keeping up with the terms of her probation, though she was upset about a recently burglary at her apartment in which she'd lost her television.

"She was on disability and all she really had was her cell phone and her computer," Cheatham said.

Boyd was not just holed up alone in her apartment, however, Cheatham said: She was friendly with neighbors and would go on errands to Target.

Besides her mother, Boyd is survived by a sister, Brandy Smith, and a daughter, Mahalie Cheatham, 7, both of Murfreesboro, TN. (Smith has legal custody of Mahalie, whose father is also deceased, according to Cheatham).

Update (4:30 p.m. Monday): Cheatham said a local funeral home, Metheven-Taylor, was cremating Boyd's remains and shipping the ashes to a funeral home in Tennessee. She said she was gathering photos to display around the urn at a memorial service for Boyd in Nashville, TN, on Saturday.

Boyd grew up in Nashville, Cheatham said, but the family also lived in other cities as job assignments from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers changed for her father, who died in 2005.

At the Kate Duncan Smith DAR School in Grant, AL, she said, Boyd was a good student and athlete—a member of the cheerleading squad and a star on the track team.

Boyd worked since high school, making "good money" as a medical coding specialist in Nashville, according to Cheatham; she separated from her husband and had moved to Minnesota in 2006.

Update (5 p.m. Monday): Cheatham said Boyd had mental-health problems made worse when she didn't take her medication. She had been suicidal, Cheatham said, but would always call to ask Cheatham to say she needed to go to the hospital.

Boyd's most recent hospital stay ended on Jan. 15, Cheatham said; she had been also keeping regular medical appointments and classes as required by the terms of her probation.

On Sunday, Boyd seemed "fine, happy," Cheatham said, and was having some people over to her apartment.

Boyd and Cheatham, in separate interviews, both cited an incident in which they said other passengers had hounded Boyd off a city bus because they recognized her from media coverage.

But Cheatham said public sentiment against her, either online or off, didn't seem to unduly upset Boyd, who she said remarked: "'Mom, I wish they'd get a life and forget about this. I live in this hell every day. I wish this had never happened."

Boyd claimed long-time membership in ASPCA and said she had loved pets in her life. Cheatham said one was a poodle mix named Snuggles who Boyd bathed three times a week for three years ending when the dog was taken from her backyard. "She was devastated," Cheatham said.

As for herself, Cheatham said she was holding up as well as could be expected, but "you're not supposed to bury your own children."


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