MA: Execution of pit bulls outrages Cape animal lovers
Execution of pit bulls outrages Cape animal lovers
Police say 2 men shot pair for fighting with other dog
Keith B. Kynock (left) and Todd A. Soderberg were arraigned in
Barnstable District Court in the killings of two pit bulls.
By Michael Levenson, Globe Staff | June 3, 2006
With two high-powered rifles in the back of their car, two men drove
their victims to a desolate dirt road at the edge of a wooded area of
Cape Cod. Then, police said, Todd A. Soderberg and Keith B. Kynock
let their victims go, watching them flee for safety, 40 feet, then 50
feet down the road, before the two lowered their rifles and opened
fire. After allegedly firing 37 rounds, their victims lay dead, their
bodies shattered from the rifle blasts.
The victims were a brother and sister, 2-year-olds named Caesar and
Hennessey. They were amber-colored pit bulls, and the shootings
horrified animal lovers.
Police said yesterday that Kynock had just taken ownership of the pit
bulls this week, but then decided he wanted them dead after they
started fighting with his other dog, a pit bull he had owned for some
time. Authorities said he allegedly enlisted Soderberg, his friend,
to help him execute the dogs and end the fighting once and for all.
While Soderberg and Kynock were arraigned yesterday in Barnstable
District Court, outrage on the Cape was intense.
``Everyone's initial reaction was shock and horror," said Carmine
DiCenso , manager of the MSPCA Animal Care and Adoption Center in
Osterville. ``We see many pit bulls and most are lovely, great animals."
Kynock, 26, a delivery truck driver from Barnstable, and Soderberg,
26, a forklift operator and former Marine from Sandwich, pleaded not
guilty yesterday to two charges each of killing an animal and animal
cruelty. Kynock was also charged with carrying a dangerous weapon,
failure to report a lost firearm, and leaving a firearm in a vehicle,
and Soderberg with carrying a firearm without a license. Kynock was
ordered to surrender his guns to police and was released on $2,500
bail. Soderberg was released on $1,000 bail.
Their families declined to comment, when reached by phone. Tara
Miltimore , an assistant district attorney prosecuting the case, said
killing an animal is a felony in Massachusetts, punishable by up to 5
years in prison.
DiCenso said cases of owners shooting healthy pets are quite
rare.``These were perfect healthy animals that could have been given
a chance to be put through adoption," DiCenso said.
Up until Tuesday, Caesar and Hennessey, muscular, purebred pit bulls,
apparently lived happily with their original owner, Guy Nelson, 50, a
stonemason from Hyannis. They romped in his house, played with his
daughter, and bounded on his bed. ``My dogs would literally jump off
the ground and kiss me and lick me -- that's the kind of thing I'm
thinking about now," Nelson said yesterday. ``You need to have one to
understand how loyal and beautiful they are, and I'm broken-hearted."
But that morning, Nelson said, he was forced to give up the dogs when
he moved into an apartment, where pets are forbidden. Reluctantly, he
handed over the animals to Kynock, feeling certain they would be
cared for well by a friend and fellow pit bull owner whom he knew
from Cape building circles. ``It was one of the hardest decisions of
my life, but I thought as long as they had a nice home, we need to
move on," Nelson said. ``We had to make a choice: Either they live
right or we don't."
Police said the arrangement didn't last long. Later that same day,
Caesar and Hennessey began fighting with Kynock's other pit bull,
biting and barking ferociously, according to Barnstable Police
Sergeant Sean Sweeney . Kynock called Nelson, who told Kynock to give
the dogs more time to bond. But Kynock turned instead to Soderberg,
and by nightfall the dogs were dead.
Early that night, police said, Kynock and Soderberg loaded two AR-15
rifles into a truck, put Caesar and Hennessey in the back, and drove
to a lonely service road in the Marston Mills section of Barnstable.
Once there, they parked, let the dogs scamper out and, as the animals
bounded away, according to police, the two men shot them dead, in a
bloody scene where investigators would later recover dozens of shell
``This was just gruesome, it was absolutely gruesome," said Charles
Lewis, Centerville senior animal control officer.
The next morning, a couple walking their dog in the woods stumbled
upon the bodies and called police, Sweeney said. And, according to
court documents, Soderberg had been telling fellow employees at
Shepley Wood Products in Hyannis that he had recently beaten pit
bulls and put them in the back of a truck. Later, questioned by
police, Soderberg showed a bite mark on his leg and, according to
court documents, said, ``The [expletive] thing bit me on the leg!"
Soderberg was arrested Thursday night and Kynock yesterday morning.
In a search of Kynock's car, an Audi, police said they seized a .40-
caliber Glock handgun, brass knuckles, a black ski mask, rubber
gloves, a bolt cutter, and a police scanner. Sweeney said he was not
sure what the items were intended for.
Yesterday, Nelson said he has been struggling with feelings of grief
and guilt, feeling he is somehow to blame for the dogs' death. ``How
would you feel if someone killed some of your kids?" Nelson said.
``That's how I feel. I cried like a baby, cried 20 times, and I'm a
grown man. I'm that broken up. I'm heartbroken."