June 11, 2003
Posted at: 10:08 p.m. CDT
JONESBORO, Ark. -- Jonesboro Police detectives want to talk with two residents about the apparent beating death and consumption of a dog.
It's believed that a chow-breed dog was taken from his owner's home in Jonesboro sometime between late Friday night and late Saturday night.
Local animal lovers are pushing police so that, if the suspects are arrested, they get the highest possible penalty placed against them.
Jared Kemp now only has the toy his chow named Pooh liked to play with. Kemp and his father say they noticed their family dog was missing from their home on West Elm Avenue in the early morning hours on Sunday.
"It's a very peaceful neighborhood," said neighbor, and dog owner, Karla Benzing. "For the most part."
Benzing's other neighbor across the street is suspected, however, of committing an almost unimaginable act: Beating to death a dog, grilling it, and then eating it. Local animal lovers are pushing police so that, if the suspects are arrested, they get the highest possible penalty placed against them.
A police report was filed Sunday night by three acquaintances, including a relative, of Matthew Harden, the man alleged to have committed the crime. The three, according to the police, told an officer that they did not believe Harden's alleged claim that he killed the dog. That is until they discovered parts of a dog remaining on the grill at a home at Harden's residence at 500 West Elm.
According to a police report: "Upon looking inside the grill, under the lid, (the officer) saw two canine paws inside a Ziplock (sic) bag along with blood stained paper towels."
The report goes on to state that another Jonesboro man, Nick Allison, is suspected of assisting Harden.
Harden's friends say that he claimed to use a ladder to hang the dog in order to process the carcass. Investigators say that a nylon rope was found at the base of a ladder that appeared to have blood stains on it.
"I believe it's 95 percent of the serial killers that have ever been caught and convicted have confessed to the fact that they started with torturing and maiming and killing animals," said animal advocate Wanda Turner of Northeast Arkansans for Animals.
Harden and Allison could be charged with Animal Cruelty, a Class A misdemeanor. Turner hopes they'll also be charged with the Class D felony of Criminal Mischief because, she says, a court could view Pooh as property.
"It's a lack of respect for life," said Turner. "And it's got to change."