The story is one of depravity with an undercurrent of hypocrisy. The DesMoines Register reports that 28-year-old Sheena Ann Cornwell, a self-described animal lover, gruesomely killed a dog belonging to her boyfriend because it was making too much noise.
The boyfriend, Joshua VanDyke, arrived home Saturday evening to find his pitbull terrier, Lillie, hanging from a rafter in his garage by her leash, which was attached on the other end to her collar. Cornwell was arrested and charged with one count of animal torture.
A distraught VanDyke, speaking for the first time on Sunday, told reporters:
[Cornwell] had complained about the dog before, but she never abused her. She wanted to get rid of her, but she never said anything about doing something violent to her.
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Sheena put Lillie in the garage sometimes so she didn’t have to listen to her bark… I told her she could call the Animal Rescue League and they would take the dog for free, but she didn’t listen.
Police summoned to the scene say that Cornwell was under the influence of alcohol when they arrived. “She did not appear to be remorseful,” said Greg Catron, the arresting officer. “She said she saw nothing wrong with her actions. She didn’t think there was anything wrong with the way she put this dog to death.” He added pensively, “This is the first time I’ve seen a dog strung up like that. The dog deserved better than that.”
Lillie’s body will be sent to Iowa State University for a necropsy. Asphyxiation is expected to be ruled as the cause of death.
Cornwell, a home health care aide, was released from the Polk County Jail about two hours after being booked. VanDyke allowed her into the house with a police escort late Saturday so that she could gather up some belongings.
The couple, who had been together for four years, owned ferrets, reptiles, turtles, fish, and three dogs. Throughout their relationship, VanDyke says, Cornwell repeatedly professed her love of animals. “It was all she talked about, how much she loved animals.” VanDyke is now seeking a no-contact order against Cornwell.
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