Suspect in custody after dog found dead in Utica park

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published January 30, 2019

 Utica police have a suspect in custody in the death of Sterling, a dog found dead near a bench in Grant Park Jan. 24.

Utica police have a suspect in custody in the death of Sterling, a dog found dead near a bench in Grant Park Jan. 24.

Photo provided by Michigan Humane Society


UTICA — Utica police have a suspect in custody in what investigators described as the torturous death of a dog in Grant Park last week.

A 3-year-old dog named Sterling, who was previously adopted from the Michigan Humane Society, was abused and killed in the park after going missing Jan. 23.

“At 11 a.m. on Jan. 24, 2019, our DPW, they were doing routine maintenance at Grant Park in the city of Utica and came across a deceased dog. They felt that he had been abused, so they called us out there. Police Department went out and began to investigate. There was enough evidence on the scene to indicate the dog had been killed at the park. It appeared that the dog had been abused and died of the injuries. We are hoping someone saw something, knows something, that could help us,” Utica Police Detective Greg Morabito said at a joint press conference with the Michigan Humane Society and Crime Stoppers of Michigan Jan. 29.

The organizations offered a reward of up to $4,500 for information leading to an arrest and conviction. A day later, Utica police had a suspect in custody.

Morabito said that the suspect will have to be arraigned before the name of the suspect can be released.

More information will be available as police continue to investigate the incident.

Sterling’s owner reportedly had mentioned to police that Sterling did leave once in a while, but always came back home. The owner was not home at the time of the incident, and the dog was last seen inside the home when the owner left.

The owner had noticed the dog was missing Jan. 23 and let the department know. The dog had been missing for 24 hours when he was found lying by a park bench with significant injuries.

Morabito said at the Jan. 29 press conference that the owner was not a suspect at this time and that the dog resided in Macomb County, but not in Utica.

Police said Jan. 29 that they believed Sterling had been stolen while the owner was away from the home and that the suspect knew the dog.

The dog had been adopted from the Michigan Humane Society Dec. 29.

The Michigan Humane Society watched Sterling grow up, and this was one of the worst cases that the society had seen in a long time.

“This is something no person should have to see and no dog should have to go through,” said Elise Ramsey, an investigator from the Michigan Humane Society.

Animal cruelty is a felony, and a conviction for an incident such as this has the potential for a sentence of up to four years in prison.