James M DeGroffLast November I remember reading about a Cascade, WI man, Jacob Odekirk, 24, finding his dog hanged on a children’s swing at a park, and being just horrified, wondering who could do such a thing. Not only was this an intentional and cruel crime, the poor dog suffered greatly, taking place in WI, it really hit home just like any crime that takes place near to where you live. Thankfully, after an 8 month investigation including DNA evidence, they arrested who they believe is responsible, 20-year-old James M. DeGroff.

Odekirk let his dog, a German Shepherd name Smoky out about 2 am on November 4. When the dog didn’t come when he called and whistled, Odekirk spent hours searching for his missing canine companion. Imagine his horror the next day when he was contacted after employees with the Cascade Department of Public Works found the dog hanging from a swing at Cascade Memorial Park.

The dog’s collar had been looped around the basket of an infant swing, leaving his back legs barely touching the ground. Based on evidence such as the marks and scratches under the swing, it was obvious that Smoky suffered for an extended period of time. This was backed up by a necropsy that was performed as well.

Not so coincidentally, Odekirk’s tires were slashed the same nite.

It would seem obvious that the abduction and brutal strangulation killing of the dog and the tire slashing were not just random acts of violence and DeGroff was actually a suspect from the start. Turns out that he was angry that his ex-girlfriend was spending time with Odekirk and there had already been an angry phone call about it that same night.

There were also glove found at the scene with dog fur and saliva and a DNA match with material found on Smoky’s collar to DeGroff. The final “nail in the coffin” was the testimony of a 16-year-old who said that on numerous occasions DeGroff bragged and laughed about the crime, saying he thought it was funny and that he stood there and watched as the doomed dog struggled valiently for its life.

DeGroff, convicted but given a DCA (deferred conviction agreement) only a month previously for a sexual assault, originally a felony but pleaded down to a misdemeanor, may be looking at serious trouble now. Prosecutors normally seek to have a DCA removed if a new crime is committed and the defendant is bound over for trial.

He was charged with felony mistreatment of animals causing death, which carries a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison.

This is one serious waste of life that needs some serious punishment! To torture and kill and innocent and defenseless animal over jealous of an ex-girlfriend makes you think it wouldn’t take much for him to commit violence against another human being. The fact that they let him walk on $5k bail is pathetic! Wonder what they’ll plead this down to? Sometimes I really have no faith in our justice system. It seems more inclined to just process, in and out than real punishment and this is one POS that needs some serious punishment!

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