A Berkeley County, West Virginia, woman is being held at Eastern Regional Jail in Martinsburg after police say she hung her parents’ three German shepherds, killing them all, and then attempted to set her parents’ home on fire with cornstalks. Fortunately, the fire did not catch, and the home was spared.
According to the Herald Media, police were called to the scene of a home on Poor House Road in Berkeley County on Sunday, where distraught homeowners had returned to find their three beloved German shepherds dead and evidence that someone had attempted to set their home on fire. Even worse, other creepy things were found at the scene of the dogs’ deaths: a baby doll hanging from a noose and a green New Testament Bible that had been shoved in one of the dead German Shepherd’s mouths. Various other religious material was strewn about, including daily devotional books. Corn stalks were standing against the house, burned, but it did not spread to the home.
The motive for the crime is unclear, but the couple’s daughter, 35-year-old Sarah Dawn Dehaven, who lived in the home with her parents, was arrested for the heinous acts of animal cruelty and attempted arson. She is being held at the Eastern Regional Jail on a $130,000 bond and is due to appear in court on Thursday to face a preliminary hearing on the charges.
Police described a gruesome scene in which all three dogs had been strangled, but in different ways. One was hanged using an electrical cord, while one was hanged using a ratchet strap. The third dog was strangled to death and had a bible wedged between her teeth. The police received the call as a domestic disturbance and arrived to find Dehaven wearing a dog harness and with black soot covering her hands, acting irrationally.
West Virginia Trooper Z.S. Conner said that the parents admitted their daughter had been behaving strangely of late and talking “religiously,” often using senseless phrases from the bible in regular conversation, the police report said. The couple said they left the residence earlier in the day, leaving Dehaven at home because she was “talking crazy.”
Conner said a baby doll was found still hanging in a similar fashion in which the dogs were found, and that religious books were covered in soot and laying in front of Dehaven’s fireplace. The bible that she had placed inside of the female German Shepherd’s mouth had been a gift to Dehaven, her parents said.
Although there were burn marks on the south side of the residence where the cornstalks had apparently been used to set a fire, the fire did not spread.
A neighbor told police that Dehaven had been acting strangely, wandering in the yard earlier in the day, and had yelled at the neighbor to “shut up her dogs or she would kill them.”
It’s unknown how long Dehaven’s odd behavior had been happening, if she was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or if her parents had sought any mental health help for her prior to this incident. Police were unsure why she was wearing a dog harness when she was discovered, which apparently belonged to one of the dogs she had murdered.
Trooper Satterfield, a West Virginia State Police officer who assisted with the investigation, said the crime scene was terrible.
“It was a heinous crime for sure. It was as awful as you can imagine, if not worse.”
There have been thousands of searches on Facebook for Sarah Dehaven of Martinsburg, but it is unclear if either of the two profiles that match that name and location belongs to the woman in question.
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