"Buster" World Famous Police Cadaver Dog Dies from Sudden Heart Attack – Praised for Locating WWII MIA Gravesites and Helping Crack "Black Dahlia" Murder

February 27, 2916
Los Angeles, California

Paul Dostie Buster MIA search Normandy France 3000dpi@031e6126e90f4ca5a056b0bbe4f666f2

Buster and Sgt. Paul Dostie on a MIA search in Normandy, France

I received some extremely sad news this morning from my good friend, Paul Dostie, retired Mammoth Lakes PD police sergeant. Here is his email:

Hello Friends,

Tonight at about 5:30 P.M. I had just finished cleaning the horse pens.  Buster was waiting in front of our cabin to play with his tire that was in his mouth.  I threw the tire for him, and he took off running to fetch the tire.  About 15 feet away from the tire his legs went out from under him and he collapsed on his right side.  His tongue was hanging out his mouth into the dirt, and he was barely breathing.  I was petting him as a cry of anguish came out from deep inside, and he died.  It was over in less than 60 seconds.  Buster died doing what he loved.

What an incredible effect that Buster has had on my life.  We have gone all over the world together, and it was all because of him and his love of searching.  His alerts on Tarawa are still resulting in recoveries.

Tomorrow I will bury Buster on a hill that overlooks the ranch.  I will bury him with his blue bone and the blanket that Nancy Ekelund made for him.  The blanket and bone have traveled all over the world with Buster.

I wanted to get this Email out to you all while I am still in a state of shock and disbelief and before the grieving process overwhelms me which is starting now.

Feel free to forward to anyone I forgot.




Buster, who was 12-years old (85 in human years)  was a court-certified HRDC expert witness.  His official title, being a Human Remains Detection Canine, more commonly known in police  jargon as, a “Cadaver Dog.” Buster, known as, “The Wonder Dog” did not have just your average nose for his work, but was truly one of the Top Dog’s in his field.

A world traveler Buster’s search assignments included detecting human remains and locating lost gravesites of  WWII MIA’s in Europe (Normandy, France,) as well as Belgium (Battle of the Bulge 1944). Buster has made numerous trips to the Pacific to the small atoll of Tarawa, in the Gilbert Islands, where he has been credited with finding dozens of MIA remains.

Buster also conducted follow-up investigative searches in the Charles Manson Case at Barker Ranch and in my own Black Dahlia investigation in 2012 and 2013. His most recent work involved locating and “alerting” to human remains in a Northern California unsolved murder investigation.

Black Dahlia Investigation Soil Sample Analysis Confirm Buster’s “Smell of Death.”

 Buster first alerted to the presence of human remains in November 2012, during a search of both the exterior and interior basement of the Sowden House. This search was documented on videotape as well as reported in 2013 by NBC newsman, Patrick Healy on the nightly news.

Newsman Healy reported a follow-up segment in 2014 with forensic anthropologist and expert witness, Dr. Arpad Vass, who after analyzing the soil samples recovered from the property confirmed Buster’s findings that the soil sample  “contained and was specific for human remains.”

DAILY NEWS BUSTER PAUL STEVE FEB 3 2013 (2015_08_02 03_41_01 UTC)

Buster was one of the sweetest and most intelligent dog’s I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.  I know one thing for certain.  As I type my condolences to his friend and partner, Paul Dostie, Buster is happily chewing on his favorite “blue bone” in Dog Heaven.

My deepest condolences to Paul in this time of loss. I know that in the immediate time words are of little solace, but as time passes, the fond and loving memories of the past years that the two of you partners shared will slowly remove and replace the present heartache and pain.  



Paul, Steve and Buster at Sowden/Hodel Residence 2012


Buster at Sowden/Hodel House 2012 with favorite blue bone toy

Links to original 2013 articles reporting Buster/Sowden House Search which indicated soil analysis results were pending.

NBC News – Patrick Healy


Pasadena Star News- Frank Girardot


Daily Mail


Daily Beast


Huffington Post


Fox News


Radar Online






  1. Dennis Effle on February 27, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    Rest in Peace Buster.
    Thanks for your help in the Dahlia case and for your lifetimes work in helping to identify remains in thousands of case all over the world.
    You will always be “Top Dog” in my book.

  2. John Ayers on February 29, 2016 at 2:15 am

    What a dog! R.I.P.

  3. nina morzenti on April 3, 2016 at 7:05 pm

    After listening to NPR’s segment on Buster, the Cadaver Dog, I am deeply saddened by his death and want to share in the grief of his loss with those whose job he made a joy. Would that we all might work with animals whose attitude lifts our own spirit to do our best. As Blemie O’Neill assured Eugene and Carlotta, ‘Whenever you visit my grave, no matter how deep my sleep I shall hear you and not all the power of death can keep my spirit from wagging a grateful tail.’

    • Steve Hodel on April 3, 2016 at 11:05 pm

      Nina: Thanks for your comments. Yes, Buster is missed. A true Mahtma of Dogdom.

  4. joyce burch on October 4, 2016 at 4:02 pm

    Paul, this summer I saw you and Buster on TV show. Our cousin,Ginny Giguere confirmed that you are our cousin. My mom and yours are sisters=actually Mariette is my godmother.We lived in CA for a year in 1955=56. You were 1or2. I was out there for the summer in 1965 helping aunt Cecile as she had not been well.I visited with your family some too. I’m very sorry to hear that Buster had died=you and he had travelled the world together are truly heros if you are interested. I have the Giguere geneology back to 1579 in France. A cousin is also working on geneology for Clara Turgeon Giguere, Any way feel free to contact me by e=mail. Say hi to Missy for me.

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