23-year-old Nicholas Degraff always wanted a German Shepherd, so in 2018, he brought home Leah. The beautiful dog quickly bonded with her human, and they spent a lot of time together.
But in December 2021, Degraff went missing. He was last seen walking Leah in Great Clifton, England. After that, no one heard from him, and his social media was inactive. No one knew what happened to Degraff, but when officials found Leah alone on the edge of a river, they knew something terrible happened.
Dog Witnesses Tragedy
On December 12th, 2021, Leah sat on the edge of the River Derwent. She barked repeatedly and seemed eager to stay in that spot. The leash Degraff had used to walk Leah was found in the water. So, officials believed that Degraff had gone into the river and potentially drowned.
They searched the area for three days, trying to find Leah’s best friend, but they weren’t successful. After that, officers declared that they didn’t think Degraff was in the river, but the young adult’s family believed he could still be there. There was also a chance that he had been swept out to sea.
It wasn’t until January 21st, 2022, that Degraff’s body was found. His body had been cut in half and swept out to sea. The lower half of his body was located, wearing the clothes he had been last seen in. Degraff’s parents confirmed that the footwear matched the boots their son wore.
“The lower half of a body wearing black jogging bottoms and black work boots had been found [in the hopper],” said Detective Inspector Hayley Wilkinson.
Forever a Mystery
The exact cause of death was never confirmed. Coroner Kirsty Gomersal called Degraff’s death a “mystery.” The only one who knows why he went to the river and how he died is Leah, who likely stayed by the riverbank through it all.
“There’s only Leah that can really tell us that – if only dogs could talk. That is the greatest mystery of all – how did Nic come to be in the river is a mystery and that is something only Leah would be able to tell us,” Gomersal said.
Degraff’s death was a tragedy, and his family is heartbroken by his sudden passing. When reminiscing about their loved one, they recalled how fun-loving and mischievous he was. He always used to tell entertaining stories, and his family will miss hearing them.
Leah stayed by her best friend’s side until the very end. If only she could tell us her side of the story.
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