KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) – A Bell County grand jury indicted Alex Manuel Soto Cruz, 23, and Kieshsaw Rodriguez Aquino, 23, on a charge of cruelty to a non-livestock animal after the men allegedly burned a Pit Bull, placed the animal in a suitcase and threw it away in a trash dumpster.
On November 16, 2021, Killeen Animal Control was called to the Dollar General Store in the 203 block of East Hallmark where they were told a man heard noises and smelled something foul coming from a black suitcase in a dumpster.
The affidavit states the man opened the suitcase and discovered a white Pit Bull mix puppy covered in feces and urine as well as burn marks. The trash in the area is collected Tuesdays and the puppy was found the same day.
Investigators believed the suspect was hoping for the suitcase containing the puppy to be collected by the trash disposal service.
The puppy, now named Samsonite, is currently receiving care at a shelter called the Second Chance Farm.
At the time it was discovered, the puppy was examined by a city veterinarian who found wounds in the healing process, indicating the puppy was in the suitcase for an extended period of time.
The veterinarian noticed extensive burn wounds along its back, hips, thigh and genitals and concluded the puppy had been set on fire.
Blunt force trauma was found on the dog’s head and investigators believed the injuries to be consistent with the dog being shot with rounds from an air soft gun.
Detectives observed the dog was walking in a hunched manner as a result of being confined to a small suitcase. The dog was also malnourished and “flops of dead skin” had to be cut off the animal.
Inside the suitcase, detectives found an airline tag with the name Rivera-Bauge and other identifying contact information. The owner of the suitcase was contacted by police and told officers he had left the suitcase at his old apartment in the 400 block of Gilmer Street in Killeen when he moved out.
The owner of the suitcase told police he had previously lived at that apartment with Soto Cruz and Rodriguez Aquino and the men had a white dog. Further, the suitcase owner said he would often hear the men strike the dog because he would hear loud noises, the men’s voices, and the dog crying.
Soto Cruz and Rodriguez Aquino were later interviewed by Killeen Police detectives. Soto Cruz allegedly admitted to beating the dog to make it stop “its behavior” and burning the dog when he was playing with fire and using an aerosol can.
Both men allegedly admitted to putting the dog in the suitcase and dumping it because “it would not recover from the burns.”
Rodriguez Aquino told police while playing with a zippo lighter that he liked to play with fire, but denied any knowledge of the dog being targeted with an air soft gun.
He also allegedly admitted to abusing the dog and putting it in the suitcase alive and taking it to the dumpster.
Samsonite is now recovering at the Second Chance Farm shelter. It shared a photo of the dog in a post updating followers about the grand jury indictment against the two men.
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