Columbus, Georgia – A Georgia man, said to be jealous of his wife’s affection for her dog Penny, is accused of a deranged act of violence that ended the small dog’s life. On January 6, 26-year-old Charles Van Pelt took his wife, Loren, to work and then he returned home.
Surveillance video from a neighbor’s house captured the horror that happened shortly thereafter…Van Pelt calmly walked into an outdoor kennel where his wife’s senior dachshund, Penny, was being held.
He shut the door to prevent the dog from escaping and proceeded to stomp Penny’s small body, over and over. At one point, he picked up a heavy object and smashed it into the dog’s head.
The attack left Penny bloodied and seizing. Neighbors who witnessed the brutal attack had phoned Van Pelt’s wife, Loren, asking her to get home quickly. Loren’s co-worker, Jennifer Reese, drove her home and they found Charles staring at the seizing dog, and showing no signs of remorse for what he had done.
When help arrived, Penny was still alive, but her injuries were catastrophic. She was rushed to a veterinarian and survived for 30 hours, but had to be euthanized due to the severity of her injuries, which the veterinarian described as consistent with blunt-force trauma.
Loren’s parents provided insight into the brutal attack that killed her nine-year-old companion. They told the Ledger-Enquirer that Charles was jealous of his wife’s affection for her rescue dog and that he had complained that she “loves their animals more than she loves him.”
The following video contains graphic content.
Penny’s killer is facing a felony charge of aggravated animal cruelty; he has pleaded not guilty to the charge and remains in Muscogee County jail without bond.
Please add your name to the petition today. What this man did is beyond comprehension and it cannot go unpunished! He must receive the maximum sentence for his charge and we will also demand that he never be allowed to own or reside with another animal in the future.
We the undersigned demand that Charles Van Pelt be held responsible for causing this senior dog to suffer a horrific death and that he receives the maximum punishment allowable by law.
Note: Individuals are presumed innocent until being found guilty in a court of law. Animal Victory relies upon the authorities and the court system to determine guilt or innocence.
UPDATE 9/16/2022: VICTORY!
Animal Victory spoke with Kimberly S. Schwartz, the Senior Assistant District Attorney. Charles VanPelt entered a plea of guilty in Muscogee County Superior Court on August 23, 2022. He was sentenced to five years, which is the maximum for Aggravated Cruelty to Animals in Georgia, with the first three years to be served in prison and the remainder to be served on probation/supervised release. There are a substantial number of special conditions imposed on his probation, as follows: Kimberly writes:
• $1000 fine on Count
• 100 hours community service
• Restitution of $761.92 to Loren VanPelt for vet bills for Penny and Abby, to be paid on a specific timetable after release to be determined by the sentencing Court.
• Defendant is eligible for First Offender sentencing pursuant to O.C.G.A § 42-8-60, et seq.
• Probation Management Act Sentencing Options System, with sanction cap of PDC or RSAT.
• Report to community supervision officer as directed
• 4th Amendment waiver
• Alcohol/drug testing
• Execute a records release
• Waiver of evidentiary foundation for admissibility of results of alcohol/drug testing in any court proceeding
• Within two weeks of release from custody, defendant shall undergo mental health evaluation at a facility approved by community supervision and shall complete any recommended treatment on schedule as set by treatment provider.
• Within two weeks of release from custody, defendant shall undergo evaluation for alcohol/other drug abuse at a facility approved by community supervision and shall complete any recommended treatment on schedule as set by treatment provider.
• Complete anger management court
• Complete domestic violence intervention course
• Abide by curfew if directed by community supervision officer.
• Provide DNA sample
• Do not consume alcoholic beverages or any controlled substance or dangerous drug unless prescribed.
• Do not associate with anyone who uses or possesses any controlled substance or dangerous drug unless prescribed.
• Do not occupy any residence or vehicle where alcohol or unprescribed controlled substances or dangerous drugs are present.
• Undergo evaluation for contagious communicable disease if directed by community supervision
• Do not possess any ammunition, any firearm as that term is defined by OCGA 16-11-131, or any weapon as that term is defined by O.C.G.A. 16-11-127.1.
• No contact whatsoever, directly or indirectly, with Loren VanPelt, Gracelen Southern or any member of their family, or with Jessie Freeman or Kweisi Daniels.
• Do not have custody, control, possession, or ownership of any animal. Do not occupy or visit any residence or vehicle where domesticated animals are present. No contact whatsoever with any domesticated animal. The defendant may not be employed or volunteer in any position that requires contact with any domesticated animal.
Finally, Judge Mullins denied the defendant’s request to be sentenced under Georgia’s First Offender Act, which means, in essence, that the conviction for this offense will go onto, and remain on, his criminal record. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO SIGNED THIS PETITION!
Update 8/17/2022: The Guilty Plea hearing has been continued to 8/23/2022 at 9:00 am
Update 7/11/2022: The next court date is on July 22nd for a guilty plea hearing.
Update 6/25/2022: Still no court date set.
Update 5/4/2022: Assistant District Attorney Robin Anthony was in court on May 4 and requested a continuance of the bond hearing. No further court date is known yet.
Update 4/18/2022: Animal Victory has sent 17,293 signatures to Attorney Kimberly Schwartz. Jennifer Reese has hand-delivered the entire petition and copies of every signature to the courthouse with a request to deny bond for Van Pelt.
Update 3/29/2022: Animal Victory has been informed that the Superior Court Case number is SU2022CR000245, and the next court appearance is for a bond hearing on 5/03/2022.
Update 2/16/2022: Defendant Charles William Van Pelt is being held in Muscogee county jail, without bail. As of 2/10/2022, case # RC2022CR003550, was bound over to Muscogee Superior Court from Recorders Court. The case has not been processed into the system yet, when it does there will be a new case number assigned, court date, and prosecutor. It may take a couple of weeks for this to take place.
Prior Signatures 17,849