Mysterious Dog Deaths Plague Sampson County
Posted October 12, 1998
Newton Grove — Someone is killing dogs in Sampson County. Investigators say most or all of them were poisoned.
Over the past two weeks, ten dogs have turned up dead in Newton Grove, a small neighborhood in Sampson County. Residents believe they know who is responsible, and now the Sheriff's Department is investigating a vindictive neighbor.
Karen Thompson discovered both of her dogs dead in the past few days. She believes one of her neighbors poisoned them.
"There were my puppies," Thompson said. "They didn't bother anything so nobody had a right to come down here."
Deputies say the suspect is a man who lives in the neighborhood. He threatened violence once after a dog attacked his kittens.
"There was a neighbor who made some threats, and we've been looking at him," Sampson County Sheriff's Det. Landis Lee said.
Sampson County Sheriff's Deputies opened an animal cruelty investigation after Linda Atkins reported finding both of her dogs dead on the same day.
"One of them fell into the pond and drowned and they couldn't get her out," Atkins said. "Then we noticed my other dog wasn't there, and we later found him under my porch."
An autopsy confirmed that Atkins' dog was poisoned with an insecticide.
Residents are disgusted that a neighborhood dispute could go so far. They are afraid that more dogs, or even their children, could be killed.
"I would like to see him go to jail, but that probably won't happen," Atkins said.
The Sheriff's Department has been investigating in the neighborhood for the past few days, and have named one neighbor as their main suspect. They said that it could take weeks before an arrest because they are waiting for some test results to come back.
An animal cruelty conviction in North Carolina is not a minor infraction. Inflicting serious pain or killing an animal is a class one misdemeanor. Each charge could carry a four month jail term, depending on the defendant's record. Any fines are strictly up to the judge.