Des Moine resident Sheena Ann Cornwell is charged with one count of animal torture for hanging and killing her boyfriend’s dog on April 6.
When Joshua VanDyke came home from work Saturday evening, he found Cornwell upset and heard his 15-year-old pit bull terrier mix, Lillie, barking inside the garage. Shortly after his arrival, Cornwell entered the garage and used the dog’s collar and leash to hang Lillie.
Cornwell re-entered the house about 10 minutes later and reportedly told VanDyke, “She’s dead. I killed her.”
VanDyke then entered the garage and found Lillie hanging from a rafter and called the police.
“I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it. I’ve never seen or experienced anything like that,” VanDyke told The Des Moines Register. “(Sheena) had complained about the dog before, but she never abused her.” VanDyke said.
VanDyke says that Cornwell was a “self-proclaimed animal lover” and the couple owned ferrets, turtles, fish and three dogs. However, he says that his now ex-girlfriend would sometimes say that Lillie, whom Cornwell rescued four years ago, was ruining her life.
Police said Cornwell, who has no animal-related criminal charges in her past, was under the influence of alcohol when she was arrested.
According to police reports, Cornwell told officers that Lillie had been annoying her and that Lillie tried to bite her as Cornwell was hanging her.
“She did not appear to be remorseful. She said she saw nothing wrong with her actions,” Des Moines Police Officer Greg Catron said. “She didn’t think there was anything wrong with the way she put this dog to death.”
If Cornwell is found guilty of animal cruelty, a judge may rule that she’s prohibited from ever owning animals.