Sister of accused dog torturer faces theft charges
January 5, 2010
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) – The sister of a man accused of torturing and killing a German shepherd mix now faces charges of stealing the dog the day before it died.
The sister told police she took the dog named Buddy from the bed of a pickup truck because she thought it had been abandoned.
Thirty-two-year-old Melissa Lockhart of Fruita faces felony theft charges. Her brother, 37-year-old Steven Clay Romero, faces animal cruelty charges after Buddy was found dead Dec. 30 in Colorado National Monument.
Buddy was found along a road with a rope around its neck. Investigators say the dog was dragged about two miles before it died.
Delta Police Sgt. Brad Lamb told The (Grand Junction) Daily Sentinel that Buddy and another dog were swiped Dec. 29 from the bed of a truck in downtown Delta. A witness to the double dognapping wrote down Lockhart’s license plate number.
“She indicated three different stories to me, none of which were feasible,” Lamb told the newspaper. “Basically, they were different versions of she felt the dogs were abandoned.”
Lockhart’s “kids started playing with the dogs, she put them in her car and left,” Lamb said.
Police haven’t said how the dogs ended up with Romero. The second dog has been returned home safe.
Romero appeared in a federal court Monday, where he was appointed a public defender. He’s being held without bond in the Mesa County Jail. Romero told U.S. Magistrate Judge Laird Milburn that since he has been harassed in jail by other inmates since his arrest Thursday, but didn’t elaborate.
“Pretty much everybody thinks I’ve done it,” Romero told the judge.
Lockhart surrendered to police Saturday and has been released on a $5,000 bond.