Two Maine men are accused of killing a 6-year-old pug mix after kidnapping him from their former boss, PEOPLE confirms.
On Tuesday morning, Nathan Burke, 37, and Justin Chipman, 22, turned themselves into the Hancock County Jail after warrants were issued for their arrest, authorities announced on Facebook. Both formerly worked as stern-men on the dog’s owner’s fishing boat — and the owner tells PEOPLE he considered both friends.
The suspects were each charged with burglary, aggravated cruelty to animals, aggravated criminal mischief, unauthorized use of property and theft by unauthorized taking or transfer, authorities announced.
They are being held in lieu of $5,000 bail.
“People around here are outraged at the type of crime that has been committed,” Winter Harbor Police Chief Danny Mitchell Jr., tells PEOPLE about the slaying of the dog, named Franky.
“This family pet was taken from the safety of his own home, killed and dumped in the water, wrapped in plastic,” he says. “My goal is to get this wrapped up and get closure for the family,” he says.
Authorities were alerted to the alleged crime on Aug. 26 by Franky’s owner, Phillip Torrey, after the dog was missing when he returned home from a concert. “He said he believed it may have been two people he knows,” says Mitchell.
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More than a week after Franky went missing, and a week after Torrey pleaded for his safe return in a Facebook post, the dog’s body washed up on a private shoreline wrapped in plastic, says Mitchell.
The dog’s remains are being examined at a lab, says Mitchell.
Owner: Franky Got Into Fight with Suspect’s Dog
Mitchell says he could not comment on a possible motive because the investigation is still ongoing.
But in an interview with PEOPLE, Torrey says Chipman might have been angry because his dog got into a fight with Franky a few weeks ago.
“Justin’s dog ran in and Franky went after him. We had to break them up. They weigh less than 30 pounds each so it wasn’t hard. Justin was pretty mad,” Torrey says.
Torrey says he was shocked initially because he considered the pair his friends, and even invited them to go with him to the concert the night Franky disappeared.
Torrey wrote on Facebook that had the crime been committed “by an enemy that had a vendetta maybe I could wrap my brain around it better, but not by guys I considered friends.”
In his grief, Torrey is overwhelmed by the outpouring of support he and his family have received.
“I’ve gotten messages from every state in the U.S., with people saying their kids are crying or that their hearts are breaking for my family and our dog,” says Torrey. “It’s very touching and has completely restored my faith in humanity.”
Residents of the tiny seaside town and strangers alike are so upset that they’ve started a social media hashtag #justiceforfranky, says Mitchell.
“Our community and the family need a sense of closure for this,” says Mitchell. “They need to see some sort of resolution.”