Woman, 75, arrested in dog theft case - FOX 35 News Orlando

Woman, 75, arrested in dog theft case

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PORT ORANGE, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -

Volusia County Sheriff's investigators have arrested a 75-year-old woman in connection to the theft of Dumpling, a pet Golden Retriever.

Celeste Neese had previously watched the victim's animals while he was on vacation and had confronted him about the way he cared for them, according to a Sheriff's Office investigation.

When initially questioned about Dumpling's disappearance, deputies said Neese told them that she was happy that the dog had been stolen, but denied being responsible for the theft and also denied sending an anonymous letter to the owner calling him an animal abuser.  She even offered to talk to her neighbors and try to help find the dog.

"The next time a deputy came to interview her, Neese was no longer acting quite so cooperative.  She criticized the victim for the way that he cared for the dog and said that even if she knew where the dog was, she wouldn't tell.  She also said that if the dog had been stolen, it would be better off with a different family," said Gary Davidson, a spokesman for the Sheriff's Office.

Investigators were able to make contact with a Flagler Beach couple that had turned Dumpling in to the Humane Society days after the dog went missing and said they made a connection back to Neese. 

Neese is charged with grand theft, dealing in stolen property and providing false information to law enforcement during an investigation.  Neese was booked into the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach on $12,500 bond.

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