A Montgomery County woman is facing two misdemeanor charges after allegedly beating her dog to death with a baseball bat, then lying about it.
Debralee Knight, 33, was arrested Tuesday following a monthlong investigation into the death of her young dog.
“We got an anonymous tip Oct. 25, but she actually killed the dog more than a month before,” said Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Theresa Pingitore, who handled the case.
Following the tip, sheriff’s Deputy Jason Nare went to Knight’s trailer on Route 5S in the town of Florida. At the time, she told him her dog had been dead for more than a year and that a local veterinarian put it down, police said. Nare checked with local vets and found no record of Knight’s dog.
When her original story didn’t add up, Nare brought Knight in for questioning. She allegedly admitted to beating the dog to death, but certain aspects of her story clashed with family members’ accounts.
She eventually signed a new, corrected statement. Pingitore was then able to piece together a basic idea of what happened. Pingitore offered the following account:
One day in early September, Knight was alone in the house with Baron, her family’s 1-year-old pit bull mix. Baron got into the trash and ripped things up, then defecated around the house.
“She sort of lost it,” Pingitore said. “She hit the dog multiple times with an aluminum bat.”
Once she realized the animal was dead, Knight dragged it back outside to its doghouse and reconnected the carcass to its chain. That night, when a family member came home, she feigned ignorance about what had happened.
“That family member buried the dog,” Pingitore said, “but he didn’t know what had happened.”
There were no witnesses to the killing, but Knight apparently told some acquaintances what had happened, one of whom called police. When Knight eventually confessed, she showed deputies the grave.
Originally, Pingitore hoped to charge Knight with a more serious charge than a misdemeanor, but when Baron was exhumed and an autopsy performed, the animal was too decomposed to definitively prove Knight’s guilt.
“Anyone can confess to anything,” she said. “It takes more than that to charge someone.”
The sheriff’s office was able to charge Knight with misdemeanor animal torturing under state Agriculture and Markets Law, as well as a misdemeanor for signing a false written statement.
“I’m glad we were able to get her on something,” Pingitore said, “I’m an animal lover myself, I didn’t want to let people think they could get away with harming their pet.”
Knight was released and will appear in court at a later date.