- Florida, USA -
During a press conference, Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno announced the arrest of 55-years-old ANTHONY LEE BELLMAN (pictured).
On Thursday, December 14, 2023, at 4:23 p.m. the Lee County Sheriff’ Office received a call from employees of the Family Dollar on 630 Bell Boulevard South in Lehigh Acres. The employees reported finding a trash bag inside the dumpster behind the store with something moving inside. When the employees opened the bag, they found a 16-year-old Shih Tzu, named Xyla, who had a belt around her small neck. The Good Samaritans immediately took the Voiceless Victim to the Blue Pear Animal Hospital.
A deputy as well as Lee County Domestic Animal Services met with the Good Samaritans at the hospital.
An investigation was immediately launched and detectives obtained surveillance footage of the incident. The footage showed a male, later identified as BELLMAN, “arriving at the dumpster in his vehicle, exiting, clearly removing a bundled up trash bag from within his trunk, and then tossing the bag into the dumpster from several feet away.”
As the investigation progressed, detectives learned that Xyla was micro-chipped and that her original guardians, from Delaware, were dead. According to court documents obtained by Voice For Us, detectives ran an extensive search on the original guardians’ family members and associates and the search returned BELLMAN residing on Carillion Avenue South in Lehigh Acres, approximately a mile away from the scene of the incident.
Detectives made contact with BELLAMAN, who was wearing the same clothes as the male in the footage.
The woman residing at the same residence, his wife, Colleen Bellman, turned out to be the daughter of Xyla’s original guardians.
A detective interviewed Mrs. Bellman at the residence and made sure there were no other animals. Mrs. Bellman told investigators that when her mother died, she took custody of Xyla. She also said that her husband was going to take Xyla to the Humane Society to put her down.
BELLMAN was taken in for questioning and detectives found probable cause to charge him with one felony count of aggravated animal cruelty.
BELLMAN was arrested and transported to the Lee County Jail A.K.A. Marceno Motel.
At the press conference Sheriff Marceno said: “Instead of landing in a dumpster, where he belongs, he landed in jail.”
Records show BELLMAN posted bond and was released a few hours later.
According to court records, BELLMAN is scheduled to be arraigned at Lee County Circuit Court on January 16, 2024, at 8:30 a.m. before Judge Bruce E. Kyle.
As for Xyla, she is still with Lee County Domestic Animal Services “running around”, said Sheriff Marceno. Xyla is partially blind and will soon be ready to be adopted.
Court documents reported the post-evaluation opinion of Jennifer E. Meredith, DVM:
“The amount of time spent in a trash bag tied in a garbage can as well as with the severe matting and also given her age and possibly underlying cardiovascular disease indicated from my exam and her chest radiographs- she went through harmful and unnecessary suffering and pain during this time. She was also at high risk of suffocation, and heat stroke, and given her possible cardiovascular disease and confirmed severe matting-this would put her at even greater risk of heat stroke and suffocation. Heat stroke and suffocation, strangulation can also lead to secondary organ failure if not treated in time. This in and of itself can also be a very painful experience and the secondary no cardiogenic pulmonary edema that can develop from strangulation is the equivalent of drowning from the inside out.”
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Details may be removed or additional information may be provided in future should such sources report an update.
BELLMAN’s mugshot shared from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.
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