‘Her world has fallen apart, Alice was everything to her’: Mother of tragic four-year-old girl killed by family pet in savage garden attack is ‘beyond heartbroken’, friend reveals as floral tributes are laid at candlelit vigil

he mother of a four-year-old girl who was mauled to death by a dog in a savage back garden attack is said to be ‘beyond heartbroken’, a family friend said last night. 

Distraught friends and neighbours gathered to mourn the loss of the youngster, named locally as Alice Stones, at a church near the house in Milton Keynes yesterday evening.

Police were called to the home in Broadlands in the city’s Netherfield area by the ambulance service on Tuesday, after the girl was pronounced dead at the scene.

The end-of-terrace home remained cordoned off by police tape throughout the following day, and flowers and soft toy tributes have piled up on the pavement outside.

Thames Valley Police said no arrests have been made and investigators are working to establish the breed of the dog, which neighbours have suggested was like a pitbull.

Neighbour Rita Matthews, 36, said she would see the child while walking her own daughter to school and described the youngster as a ‘happy little girl, very happy’. 

She told MailOnline that she would walk most mornings to the local primary school with Alice’s mother, Louise.

‘Alice was their only child. My daughter went to the same school and we would often walk together,’ she said. ‘I never saw her with a dog, and she had never mentioned that they had got one.

‘It is just heart-breaking and I cannot imagine what Louise is going through. That poor girl.’ 

Ms Matthews also said she heard Alice screaming from the garden, but ‘didn’t know what was going on.’

‘Lots of police cars turned up and we were all told to stay inside. I then saw on Facebook what had happened and was shocked,’ she added.

Louise Stones was last night said to be comforted by her mother Karen Hallewell, 56.

A friend told The Mirror: ‘She is beyond heartbroken. Her world has fallen apart. Alice was everything to her.’ 

Michelle Kitchener, 54, said Alice lived in the house with Louise, who is said to be a single parent.

The mother-of-two added: ‘The mum always kept herself to herself, but I would sometimes see her drop the little girl off at nursery or school.

‘I have never seen or heard a dog bark coming from that house. I didn’t even know they had a dog.’

The animal was humanely put down by police on Tuesday evening.

Officers in white forensic suits worked through the day at the address, with a forensic tent by the back garden and a uniformed officer and marked police van at the front of the property.

Around 100 people turned out to a vigil that had been organised at Grand Union Vineyard Church, Netherfield Campus, across the road from the house on Wednesday evening.

A vigil is held at Grand Union Vineyard Church, Netherfield Campus, in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, in memory of four-year-old Alice Stones

Prayers were said for the family as people gathered, holding candles, in the darkness in a green space at the rear of the place of worship.

There were moments of reflection as music was played over speakers, including Amazing Grace and Over The Rainbow.

Donna Fuller, a ward councillor for Woughton Community Council, said the vigil was to ‘enable the community to come together and draw strength from each other’.

Cllr Fuller added: ‘It will send a strong message to the family that we are thinking of them.’

She said there is ‘such a sense of shock’ and it is an ‘awful situation’.

She told gathered crowds: ‘This family will need the time and space to allow them to process this tragic event and I hope that we can do that and help them in the future.

‘I would ask that we support each other.

‘There is a feeling of deep sadness that we will feel as a community so I ask you to be neighbourly and I ask you to be supportive and most of all I ask you to be kind.’

Giving an update earlier on Wednesday, Superintendent Marc Tarbit said that the child’s family are being supported by specially trained officers.

‘An investigation is currently under way to fully understand the circumstances but we currently believe that this was a tragic, isolated incident and there is no threat to the wider community,’ he said.

‘Accordingly, no arrests have been made at this time.

‘I can confirm that the dog was a family pet and was put down by police on the scene yesterday evening.’

Among the floral tributes left to the youngster, one of them read: ‘Alice!! Fly high with the angels little one. The whole community will miss your smile. Our thoughts are with the whole family, especially her mum.’

Police said there will be an increased presence of officers in the area with ‘reassurance patrols during early shifts and late shifts’.

Mr Tarbit, local policing area commander for Milton Keynes, said the incident in a back garden – in which no-one else was hurt – had ‘shocked and upset people’ as he urged residents to speak to officers with any questions or concerns.

An aerial view of the back garden where Alice Stones was killed by her family's dog last night

American Bully-type dog Cookie-Doe (pictured) was put down by a veterinarian at the scene after he bit Keven Jones, 62, to death

He also asked the public not to speculate about what had happened and called for the girl’s family’s privacy to be respected.

Alice’s heartbroken family are paying tribute to the young child. 

Floral tributes to the youngster have piled up outside the house, with one of them reading: ‘Alice!! Fly high with the angels little one. The whole community will miss your smile. Our thoughts are with the whole family, especially her mum.’

The family are understood to only have had the dog a matter of weeks.

One neighbour said he was told it was an American bulldog and had come from a rescue centre.

Another neighbour said: ‘The dog was very new and I think they only had it six weeks’.

One neighbour, who asked not to be named and who knew the victim, said: ‘She was a lovely little girl.’

She added: ‘Mum was quiet, I used to say hello to her in the mornings – I don’t think ever saw them with any dog.’

Nassir Mahdi, 42, whose garden almost overlooks the scene, said: ‘It’s awful, that girl is so innocent.’

He added: ‘My daughter is three, so about the same age (as the victim), and I’ve never let her out to play in the park because the dogs are out all the time.

‘Big dogs, so many of them are not on leads here. People say “it’s okay, it’s a family dog” but I don’t think you can trust them.’

Police said there will be an increased presence of officers in the area with ‘reassurance patrols during early shifts and late shifts’.

Forensic teams in white suits arrived today to carry out a detailed examination of the back garden where the attack took place. A blue tent could be seen outside the entrance to the back garden.

A family member told MailOnline: ‘We’re just trying to come to terms with what has happened. It’s horrendous.’