A man accused of chaining a dog in a Virginia park before setting him on fire, resulting in his death, has been arrested.
Jyahshua A. Hill, 20, was taken into custody without incident around 3 p.m. Monday by the U.S. Marshals Regional Fugitive Task Force, KTLA sister station WTKR in Norfolk, Virginia, reported.
The incident sparked widespread outrage, touching the hearts of many across the country. Investigators are crediting an outpouring of information and assistance from the public that helped them solve this crime.
“There are a lot of people to thank, but I’d like to single out all the citizens who contributed tips that pointed us in the right direction” said Richmond Interim Police Chief William C. Smith. “That, plus the excellent job done by arson investigators who did the bulk of the work, major crimes detectives, forensics technicians and animal control officers who all built a strong case to present to the grand jury.”
Hill was indicted by the multi-jurisdictional grand jury on May 8 on one count of felony animal cruelty.
On Feb. 10, Richmond Fire Department units were called to Abner Clay Park, 200 West Clay Street, for a report of a dog being set on fire.
Firefighters found Tommie with severe burns to his body. He had been tied to a chain-link fence, doused with a flammable liquid and set on fire in a Richmond park.
Tommie suffered burns on 40 percent of his body. Despite round-the-clock care, he died five days after rescue.
"He had just finished having his bandages changed and stopped breathing; his body simply gave out," Richmond Animal Care and Control posted on Facebook. "Tommie was pain free and surrounded by people that loved him when he passed. Needless to say, we are all devastated and angry and sad and terribly disappointed."
If the dog had survived the attack, under previous law the person responsible could have faced only a Class 1 misdemeanor charge punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine up to $2,500. That’s why the crowd following Tommie’s story turned its attention to SB 1604, introduced by Sen. Bill DeSteph, R-Virginia Beach. The bill would increase the penalty for animal abuse from a misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony, which can draw up to five years in prison.
Five days after Tommie’s death, the House passed the bill unanimously. It cleared the Senate unanimously on Feb. 15.
The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office has assigned two attorneys to the case; one has expertise in arson and the other in animal cruelty prosecutions.