A girl's beloved dog, a grisly nightmare
By Mary Lynn Smith, Star Tribune
Crystal Brown's world was turned upside down a month ago when Chevy, her 4-year-old Australian shepherd mix, didn't come home.
"I told him everything and he never shared any of my secrets," said Crystal, 17, who has had some troubled times in her young life. Chevy was her therapy dog, and she leaned on him for comfort and support.
Two weeks ago, a gift-wrapped box was left at the house where she lives with her grandmother in St. Paul's Rice Street area. Inside the box, Crystal was horrified to find her dog's head.
"This was so cruel," Crystal said Wednesday. "This is one sick, twisted person."
The incident is considered so shocking that the Humane Society of the United States announced Wednesday that it was offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
Homicide investigators are looking into the case because of the "implied" terroristic threat, St. Paul Police Sgt. Jim Gray said.
"This was extraordinarily heinous," said Dale Bartlett, the Humane Society's deputy manager for animal cruelty issues. "I deal with hundreds and hundreds of cruelty cases each year. When I read about this case, it took my breath away. It's horrible."
This case, Bartlett said, is far worse than a recent episode in Oshkosh, Wis., where a 49-year-old man decapitated two of his kittens because "they were annoying."
Sending the dog's head to the teenager was a malicious act, Bartlett said. "That level of depravity is beyond belief."
Shirley Brown, Crystal's grandmother, said that Chevy wandered off after she let him out one night in mid-February.
'It was just me and him'
Crystal peppered the neighborhood with "missing" posters, and went door to door with two photos of Chevy in hopes that someone had spotted him. She rode the bus countless times to the St. Paul animal shelter and called there "thousands of times," she said.
"I felt empty," Crystal said. "I couldn't talk to anyone. He was my dog. It was just me and him."
Then Shirley Brown came home one day and found a box wrapped in red paper on her front steps, with batteries taped to the box. "Congratulations Crystal," the note said. "This side up. Batteries included."
Shirley Brown placed the box on her granddaughter's bedroom dresser. "I was surprised and excited," Crystal said. "I thought it was a gift from my cousin."
She tore off the paper and ripped open the box. Inside, she found valentine candy and a black garbage bag. And then she saw her dog's face.
Crystal screamed and ran to the kitchen to find her grandmother: "Is this my dog, Grandma? No! That's not my dog? Is it my dog?"
An isolated incident
Gray said that investigators believe the case is an isolated incident and that the suspect knows the family. "We don't know what the motive would be," Gray said. "It's a terrible thing to do to someone's pet."
Anyone with information regarding this case is asked to call St. Paul police at 651-266-5659.
Chevy, Crystal said, was the best friend she ever had.
"He was more patient than any person I ever met. That dog waited for years for me to get myself together," said Crystal, who began to cry.
"That dog didn't care what I did, what I didn't do ... what anyone did to me. He didn't care about any of that. He just wanted to love me the way I loved him."
Crystal has a new puppy now, another Australian shepherd that she's named Diesel. The puppy's no Chevy. Not yet, anyway.
"Hopefully, he'll be my best friend," Crystal said. Hopefully, he will be my guide through life."
Mary Lynn Smith • 651-298-1550 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, March 15, 2007
I Don't Even Know What To Say
This article appeared in the online version of the (other) local paper today. Suffice it to say I'm speechless.