Redding police have arrested a man accused of killing and cooking his estranged girlfriend’s dog and serving the animal to her in a meal.
The suspect, Ryan Eddy Watenpaugh of Palo Cedro, denied killing or cooking the victim’s missing Pomeranian. But he admitted placing dog paws on the victim’s doorstep, police said.
Watenpaugh, 34, was arrested Thursday by law enforcement officers from three agencies, police said. A search of his home found a Romanian variant AK-47 assault rifle and high-capacity magazines, officials said.
He was booked at Shasta County jail in lieu of $250,000 bail on charges of domestic violence, false imprisonment, stalking and animal cruelty. Officials plan to seek additional charges on weapons violations.
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According to a written statement by Redding police, a woman reported on Tuesday that she was being stalked by Watenpaugh, whom she had dated for several months. She said he had physically attacked her numerous times, causing bruises and minor cuts, and had held her captive twice.
The victim fled her Redding-area apartment after he attacked her during an argument Aug. 4, police said. When she returned, Watenpaugh and her Pomeranian dog, Bear, were gone.
The couple briefly reconciled during the first week of September, when Watenpaugh cooked her a meal with meat, police said. Last Sunday, he sent her a text message referencing the meal and asking “how her dog tasted,” the police statement said.
The couple separated, but Watenpaugh continued sending her texts describing what he planned to do with the dog’s remains.
The woman told police that on Tuesday, she heard a truck pull up around 1 a.m. and saw Watenpaugh walk up to her home, place something near the front door and leave. She opened the door and found a small bag containing two dog paws, which she identified as belonging to Bear, police said.
An arrest warrant was issued Wednesday for Watenpaugh, who was taken into custody during a traffic stop Thursday evening by Redding police, Shasta County sheriff’s deputies and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation agents.
During an interview, police said, Watenpaugh denied killing or cooking the victim’s pet. But he admitted sending her text messages and placing dog paws at her home, officials said.