CHESTER - A Hancock County man who allegedly held his former girlfriend hostage and tortured and killed 29 dogs had been charged previously in Hancock County and was on house arrest, Sheriff Mike White said.
"I have seen this (animal cruelty before) but not to this magnitude," White said. "This is atrocious."
White said such a case is the main reason why he is not a fan of house arrest.
"We are using house arrest and not putting people in jail," he said. "This is a serious issue."
The sheriff said that as a convicted felon, Jeffrey Nally Jr., 19, of 1855 Orchard Lane, was not to be in possession of any weapons. There were several in the Orchard Lane home, and he allegedly used them to threaten the 19-year-old Clarksburg woman, White said.
"The violence was escalating, and in my opinion it's good this ended when it did, because I believe he eventually would have killed her," White said.
Chief Deputy Todd Murray said the 19-year-old Clarksburg area woman is back home with her family today after a month-long ordeal. Murray said she was allegedly held against her will and forced to watch while her former boyfriend allegedly tortured and mutilated 29 dogs.
Murray said deputies of the department's Special Response Team assisted West Virginia State Police in taking Nally into custody Wednesday night. The woman was safely removed from the home, and did not require medical treatment. Sheriff's deputies transported her to Clarksburg, Murray said.
Nally is being held in the West Virginia Northern Regional Jail in Moundsville on $450,000 bond. He is charged through the West Virginia State Police with 29 counts of felony animal cruelty, one count of domestic battery and one count of kidnapping.
Murray said after securing the scene, deputies, state troopers and Nicole Busick, county animal control officer, spent the night burying the dogs.
Three dogs and a pig were rescued from the home, he said.
Murray said state police called the sheriff's department for assistance around 7 p.m. after state police Cpl. Larry Roberts received a call from the woman's mother. She said her daughter had told her she was being held hostage and her boyfriend was killing dogs. She told police they had to get her daughter out of there. She said Nally had told her daughter he would kill any officer who showed up to arrest him, and kill her daughter and himself.
Deputies met state troopers and assembled the SRT team. They went to Nally's Orchard Lane home off state Route 8 around 9 p.m., he said.
"We had the element of surprise," Murray said. "We had the mother call her daughter as she often did, and she was able to get outside. We secured her, then moved in."
The 19-year-old said she and Nally met through mutual friends and dated for several months before she voluntarily moved in with him in December.
She told police the alleged abuse developed over time, and in the past month he had become more physically and sexually abusive.
She told police that in the past three weeks, she had not been allowed to go anywhere alone, not even to the bathroom or in the shower. Nally monitored her phone calls and restricted food, sometimes not allowing her to eat for two or three days at a time, she said.
The woman told police Nally began torturing and killing the dogs - most of them puppies - in the past few weeks. She said he took pleasure in her terror as he made her watch him kill the puppies, experimenting with different tools.
Murray said the dead dogs were in various stages of decomposition, showing he had been killing them over time. Some of the dogs were buried, others were in plastic bags which he had tossed over the hill.
"Some were decapitated, some skinned," Murray said. "He used different tools on each dog -a crossbow, hammers, saws, drills - he did all this in the house. He made her watch, then forced her to clean up the mess."
Murray said Nally gathered the dogs over time by responding to newspaper ads.
"When people would have free puppies, he'd get them and tell the people he lived on a farm," Murray said.
He said some people even delivered the puppies to Nally's rural residence, thinking they were going to a good home.
(Tullis can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)