NEW HANOVER COUNTY — Sheriff’s deputies made an arrest of a 20-year-old male on felony cruelty to animals, breaking and entering, and second-degree trespassing charges.
Rex Heppe was being held on a $50,000 secure bond but has bailed out, according to Lt. Jerry Brewer with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office.
On March 18, a person called 911 about their dog being beaten in their backyard on Huntsman Court in Castle Hayne. According to Brewer, the victim said he saw the suspect on his property at roughly 5 a.m. and asked the guy to leave.
A few hours later, Brewer explained the victim heard his dog yelping and saw the same male beating the small animal with a wooden pole.
When patrol units arrived, they found the dog deceased.
Deputies opened an investigation and located Heppe, due to the victim identifying the young adult. The homeowner had described clothing Heppe was wearing. According to Brewer, it aligned with what Heppe had on when deputies interviewed him.
No drug tests were conducted, but law enforcement believed the suspect was impaired at the time of the incident, due to strange comments being made.
“Plus, the average person in their right mind doesn’t take a wooden pole and beat a dog — it was like a Corgi,” Brewer said.
Heppe faces a Class H felony for killing the animal, which comes with a sentence of four to 25 years if found guilty. Breaking and entering also can be a Class H felony if the suspect “breaks or enters any building with intent to commit any felony or larceny therein.”
The trespassing charge is a Class 3 misdemeanor, punishable with a 20-day jail sentence and $200 fine.
Sheriff’s Office Animal Services Unit collected the dog’s body for a necropsy in Raleigh.
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