- Virginia, USA -
How evil do you have to be to murder your own dogs and then lie to the authorities reporting that your dogs were stolen?
58-years-old TERRY EUGENE MICHAEL (pictured), of Ferrum, reported to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office that on February 7, 2023, his two black Labradors, named Caleb and Colby, “were taken from the Waid Park area after they got loose from their owner to chase a squirrel.” MICHAEL told deputies that two males picked up Caleb and Colby, put them into an off-white color Jeep Grand Cherokee and drove off.
The Franklin County Humane Society offered a reward for the safe return of Caleb and Colby, and the Franklin County Sheriff's Office made multiple appeals to the community to help look for them.
In one of the appeals, the sheriff’s office wrote: “We continue to ask for the public's assistance in locating these loving fur babies so that they can reunite with their owners.”
Investigators searched until February 14, when someone found Caleb and Colby, lifeless, on the side of the road.
The person called the authorities to report the heartbreaking discovery and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and the Animal Control Unit of Franklin County Department of Public Safety responded to the 500 block of Carolina Springs Road.
Through a Facebook post, the sheriff’s office announced: “To our great dismay, the dogs have been identified as the two black labs, Colby and Caleb, that were stolen from the Waid Park area last week. Both have been taken to the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg for further examination and cause of death determination. We are appalled at this senseless tragedy and extend our condolences to the owners of these dogs.”
Necropsies performed on Caleb and Colby revealed the cause of death was gunshot wounds.
A deeper investigation in addition to assistance from the community led to MICHAEL’s arrest on February 16, 2023.
The murderer is being charged with two counts of felony animal cruelty, two summons for improper disposal of companion animal, and one count of filing a false police report.
Online records show the murderer is being held at the Western Virginia Regional Jail without bond.
The Franklin News-Post reports that MICHAEL’s wife, Rhonda Michel, “has also worked closely with the Franklin County Humane Society and other groups to locate Caleb and Colby.” The sheriff’s office said Ms. Michael has been cooperative and does not appear to have any involvement.
All those appeals to the public by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, the search for Caleb and Colby, the investigation, the hunt for the made-up vehicle, the community’s hopes and prayers for the safe return of two innocent dogs were all in vain as MICHAEL knew the ugly truth all along and played everybody!
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MICHAEL’s mugshots shared from the Western Virginia Regional Jail.
Caleb and Colby’s pictures shared from Franklin County Humane Society Planned Pethood & Adoption Center.
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