Crime - Sacto 911

Sacramento court records detail investigation into dog’s drowning

Meet William David Meek Jr., alleged dog killer.

Meek is the 47-year-old Citrus Heights man being sought by authorities for allegedly killing his girlfriend’s 12-year-old border collie, Zelda, by tying a bowling ball around her neck and dumping her into the American River to drown.

He is the subject of at least six cases filed in Sacramento Superior Court since 2003, with arrests on charges ranging from robbery to burglary to possession of a controlled substance, a case in which he failed to appear for a hearing last Friday during which authorities had hoped to arrest him.

The arrests of Meek, a former construction worker, never resulted in prison time in California nor much public scrutiny. Until now.

On Monday, as word of how Zelda died began to spread through the media, neighbors where the dog last lived spoke in profanity-laced outrage over Zelda’s fate.

“I’d tie a rope around his neck and throw him in the river if I wouldn’t go to jail for it,” said Harry Terrill, whose yard backs up to the home where Zelda and her owner, Mollie Wasemiller, were staying with a friend until recently. “I hope they swing the son of a bitch because he’s got it coming. Anybody who can do that to a dog doesn’t deserve to live.”

Even Meek’s former stepmother said she was horrified at the allegations, and vowed to contact police if she heard from him.

“I’ve been shaking,” said a tearful Judy Meek, who was married to Meek’s father for 27 years until their divorce a few years ago. “I don’t understand why he would have done something like this.”

She described her stepson, who is known to friends as “Billy,” as a “good kid, very personable,” and that he had no history of abusing animals.

“He had dogs over the years and always took really good care of them,” she said, adding that she has not spoken to him in five years.

Meek, who also is known by the name “Meeks” in court filings, is charged with one felony count of “willfully, maliciously and intentionally” killing Zelda in June after the black-and-white dog supposedly bit Dona Reed, a woman who was allowing Wasemiller to stay with her and her family in a small rental home in North Sacramento.

“I got bit when I was petting Zelda,” Reed later told a detective, according to documents filed in Superior Court. “There is a lot going on in my house with kids around, so I think the dog was overwhelmed. 

“I just told Mollie the dog could not stay here because I was worried about her biting the kids.”

What happened next is a matter of dispute, with conflicting stories spelled out in court documents.

Authorities first learned of the case just before 2 p.m. on June 17, when an area resident called the city’s 311 telephone line and reported a dead dog floating in the river near River Park.

“The dog appeared to be purposely drowned,” a case summary filed in court states, adding that “it appeared that the dog’s leash was tied to a bowling bag that contained a bowling ball and a large river rock.”

Animal control officials began investigating and found the dog had been microchipped, which allowed them to determine it had come into the city animal shelter as a stray in 2008 and that Wasemiller was the registered owner. Authorities contacted Wasemiller that same day, and she told them that her boyfriend had taken the dog to Sacramento’s Front Street Animal Shelter, court records state.

Meek told them the same thing, saying he had “taken the dog to the shelter to be put down because it had been biting,” court records state.

Investigators told Meek there was no record of him dropping the dog at the shelter, and he “then advised he lied and that he had given it to a friend.” The supposed friend was contacted and told investigators he didn’t know Meek or Zelda, court records say.

The day after the dog was found dead, Wasemiller, who indicated she had owned Zelda since she was a puppy, came to the animal shelter and told investigators that she originally had lied about Meek taking the dog to the shelter, court records state. Instead, she claimed “that she had given the dog to a homeless person.”

The investigation continued for weeks, with animal control officials interviewing Meek, Wasemiller and Reed.

None of the three could be located for comment Monday, but Reed told a detective the first she heard of Zelda’s fate was when she was contacted by animal control officials.

“I was so upset when he told me what happened,” she said, according to court documents. “I love dogs and would never want one hurt.”

Court records say that before Zelda was found dead, Sacramento’s 311 dispatch system received three separate phone calls about the dog, two from a man claiming to be Wasemiller’s boyfriend and the third from Reed. Each of the calls was about the dog biting Reed and, subsequently, Wasemiller, and seeking help from animal control.

The records also state that Meek told differing stories about what he did with the dog, claiming at one point he had taken it to a shelter in Citrus Heights, then saying he had taken it to the Front Street shelter.

But Meek was unable to provide any paperwork proving he had turned the dog in or to accurately describe the employee who works at the front counter, court records say.

“I asked Meek again what he did with the dog and after about 60 seconds of him becoming visibly tense, squeezing his lips together, his face turning red and his eyes beginning to water, he finally told me the summary in following,” an investigator recounted in court documents.

The story Meek told was that he took the dog to a friend because Wasemiller was worried Zelda would be euthanized because of the biting issue, court records state.

“I advised Meek that his story did not make sense,” the detective noted, according to court documents.

Meek and Wasemiller later moved out of a 16th Street motel where they had been living, and authorities were unable to locate them. On Friday, when Meek was scheduled to appear in court on a separate case, they were poised to arrest him, but he never showed.

The Del Mar Way home where Wasemiller and Zelda were staying in June was vacant Monday. A man who said he was the father of the property owner was painting and cleaning the house to prepare it for renting again.

Carl McReynolds said he had heard the story about the dog, and could not comprehend what had happened.

“The thing is, I mean, take the dog to the pound or whatever,” he said. “I mean, shooting it would be better than that.”

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