First Posted: 1/15/2009
The following article contains information that some readers might find disturbing — editor.
RAFT SWAMP — The Robeson County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the grisly deaths of five dogs on Wednesday that might have been killed as retribution for the shooting death of a man this weekend.
In the same yard where Christopher Lee Fields was shot to death Saturday morning, deputies and animal cruelty investigators found three adult dogs and two puppies dead. Three had been shot, one had been hanged and another had been set on fire. An adult dog and three puppies were missing.
Wearing a bulletproof vest, Katherine Floyd, animal cruelty investigator for the county, collected evidence as day turned to night.
“This is the most barbaric crime I have ever seen,” Floyd said. “I’ve never seen anything like this … and I’ve seen a lot of animal cruelty in my line of work.”
Johnny Oxendine and his wife Tammy live at the home at 219 Riley Circle with their son, Danny Ray Oxendine, 28,. A old pick-up truck was vandalized, with windows broken out and an aborted attempt to remove a radio.
A crime report lists Danny Ray Oxendine as the person who shot Fields to death. He has not been charged with a crime as lawmen hint that the shooting was in self-defense.
Sheriff’s Maj. Howard Branch said there had been an “ongoing situation between neighbors.”
Deputies were not naming a suspect, but people who live in the area offered the name of one of Fields’ relatives who has a criminal history.
The area is off a rut-pocked dirt road in a collection of mobile homes. Fields, 20, lived across the road from the Oxendine residence, at 186 Riley Circle.
Inside an arcing C-shaped driveway, the Oxendine’s single-wide trailer had been riddled with 12 bullet holes from Saturday night’s shooting. Strands of loose crime-scene tape was strung around the property.
Johnny and Tammy Oxendine had not stayed at the home Tuesday night and returned Wednesday to find their animals killed and their home ransacked. Both were visibly shaken. Danny had reportedly left the area.
Deputies photographed the remains of a female chow that had been set on fire while it was still chained inside its plastic igloo-shaped doghouse. The only remnants of the dog house were small piles of melted plastic, and a square piece of metal that provided support.
Beside an out building lay the bodies of two brown pit bulls with chains still attached to their collars. Each had been shot to death from point-blank range. A lit cigarette had been ground into one dog’s brow.
“My babies …,” Johnny Oxendine said as he surveyed the carnage.
Near the dead dogs was a dog house that had been tipped on its side. Inside was a dead puppy that had been shot.
Toward the rear of the property was a tree that acted as a gallows for a dead black-and-white Boston Terrier that hung from a chain, its eyes bulging.
Deputies collected shell casings and other evidence, including more than two dozen busted beer bottles strewn about the yard.
Inside the ransacked trailer was a busted terrarium that was home to a turtle, the sole survivor of the brutality. Floyd took custody of the quarter-sized turtle. Behind a couch were the remains of the busted fish tank that had housed tropical fish.
All the windows in the house were busted, belongings were pitched outside, and furniture was upside down or smashed.
A metal pipe found inside the home might have been used in the destruction, Floyd said. Power tools and large bags of dog food were reportedly stolen.
Neighbors reported they heard banging around 1 a.m. Wednesday, but no one called authorities.
“It’s a shame and disgrace when animals have to pay with their lives for the cruelty of people,” Floyd said.
The dogs’ carcasses will be taken to Raleigh today for autopsies.
Floyd, who vowed to stay on the case until someone is punished, said the culprit could face felony charges. She said the animals were healthy and had been well cared for.
“These animals were innocent and in the comfort of their dog houses …. These animals were tortured and mutilated. They had nothing to do with the events going on out there,” she said. “… I hope the people who did this burn in hell.”
Court records show that Danny Ray Oxendine and Christopher Fields had a criminal history.
Oxendine, a convicted felon, has been in and out of trouble since 1995 and has at least 18 convictions for criminal offenses. He was released from prison in May 2007 after serving 10 months for assault on a female and assault by pointing a gun. He also served five months in 2004 for larceny.
Fields had a history of run-ins with the law dating back to 1994, but most were misdemeanors. He was charged in 2004 with assault with a deadly weapon with intent kill inflicting serious injury. He was charged again in 2007 with possession with intent to sell or deliver cocaine.