Arrest Made In Dog Dragging Death
Dog Was Stolen, Dragged 2 Miles
Last Updated: 1241 days ago
Police have arrested a man they said dragged a dog to its death with a car at the Colorado National Monument.Steven Clay Romero, 37, of Grand Junction, is accused of tying the dog -- a German shepherd-blue heeler mix named Buddy -- to his truck and dragging him for two miles with a rope tied around the dog's neck, according to the National Park Service. The dog died of strangulation and was dumped on a snowy shoulder of the roadside."The good news for everybody is at least we have the suspect in custody," said Monument Superintendent Joan Anzelmo. "It's an absolute relief."Anzelmo credited tips from the public and some "great police work" for the arrest.Romero was arrested at about 12:25 p.m. Thursday as he exited the Mesa County Courthouse, where he had appeared on other, unrelated charges, officials said. He was charged with a felony count of aggravated cruelty to animals.Officials said the dog was stolen and was at the Delta, Colo., home of an acquaintance of Romero's when Romero took it and headed to the Colorado National Monument in the early-morning hours Wednesday. A National Park Service employee discovered the dead dog at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday.Anzelmo said tracks left in the snow tell the story.The tracks initially showed the dog walking, then running and then being dragged up the steep and winding road, Anzelmo said. The dog's body was left near the first tunnel on the west side of the park, which has sweeping views of red rock canyons."The entire staff at Colorado National Monument was just heart-broken," Anzelmo said. She said staff and "the entire community" were relieved by Romero's arrest.""We're ending 2009 feeling pretty good that we were able to apprehend this man," Anzelmo said.Before Romero's arrest, officials posted photos of the dead dog on the park's Web site in hopes that people would recognize the animal and report the person (or persons) who committed "this horrific crime upon a defenseless animal."Video surveillance from the west entrance station of the Monument showed a double-cab pickup truck entering the Monument at 2:18 a.m. Wednesday, with a dog in the bed of the truck, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Cameras in the outbound lane showed the same truck leaving the Monument at 2:30 a.m. without the dog.After reviewing the video footage of the truck, Rangers visited Romeros residence, where they observed paw prints in the snow of the front yard, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. One witness said he saw Romero leave the residence with the dog, then return later without it. A second witness said that Romero stated that he was going to kill the dog. A consensual search of the residence found rope in the garage of the home, which matched the rope tied around the dogs neck.Romero made his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Grand Junction Thursday afternoon. A detention hearing will be held on Monday.It's unclear exactly why Romero was in the Mesa County court before his arrest on Thursday. He has had several run-ins with the law since August. In September, Romero was arrested and accused of illegally possessing a weapon and possessing drugs and paraphernalia, according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. He also was accused of smuggling contraband into prison, according to the CBI records. Romero has been stopped twice since Oct. 30 for alleged traffic offenses that include driving without a license, speeding, improper use of a traffic lane and driving under restraint, the records show.If convicted of one count of aggravated animal cruelty, Romero could face not more than three years in federal prison and one year of mandatory parole, officials said. He also could be fined up to $100,000.Anzelmo said the investigation is continuing, and officials expect Romero to face even more charges.The Colorado National Monument is located south of Fruita in western Colorado.