Man facing animal cruelty charges for torture of family’s pet rabbits, cat

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A Texarkana man accused of torturing two pet rabbits and his step-mother’s tabby cat is facing felony and misdemeanor animal cruelty charges in Miller County.

Devan Taylor Diltz, 19, allegedly tortured and suffocated family pet rabbits Huckleberry and Aurora before nailing them to a tree at Ed Worrell Park in early December, according to a probable cause affidavit. Diltz allegedly told a local mental health professional and family members that he dismembered the bunnies before burying them at the park. Diltz reportedly told a girlfriend that he later dug up the rabbits, further dismembered them, burned their remains and buried them again in two separate places.

Investigators with Texarkana, Ark., Animal Services observed two patches of recently dug up earth near a large tree in the park and noticed holes on the tree which could have been made with nails. The investigators were unable to find animal remains in the park.

Investigators acting on information from Diltz’s family also looked at the grounds of Sugar Hill Methodist Church on Sugar Hill Road in Texarkana, Ark., where Diltz claimed to have buried the remains of one rabbit in a cardboard box. The investigators found what was left of a cardboard box which contained fly larva from a spot of disturbed earth on church grounds. They also found a Dr. Pepper bottle which contained a liquid which might have been used as an accelerant. Diltz’s family said he often drinks Dr. Pepper and that lighter fluid was missing from one family member’s bedroom.

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Diltz’s family told investigators he has been treated on an out-patient and in-patient basis for a mental illness with psychotic symptoms and that they fear his behavior could escalate to include violence toward them.

Diltz allegedly said he hates his step-mother and has thought of how he would kill her. The report alleges Diltz’s family discovered identification, credit and debit cards in Diltz’s room which they believe might belong to staff at Olive Garden in Texarkana, Texas, where Diltz once worked.

Diltz has been charged with a single count of felony aggravated animal cruelty for allegedly strangling the family’s tabby cat, Socks, before throwing out the window of a moving car along Jefferson Avenue Dec. 10 in Texarkana, Ark. That offense is punishable by a fine up to $10,000 and up to six years in prison.

For each of the rabbits, Diltz has been charged with misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty. The misdemeanor charges are punishable by a fine up to $1,000 and up to a year in the county jail. Diltz is set to appear in Miller County circuit court Tuesday.

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