RENO, Nev. – Nancy Frank could no longer care for her two Chihuahuas so she was glad to find a young man she thought would give them a good home.
Days later the dogs’ remains turned up at gruesome site in a Reno motel room where detectives found a decapitated dog and four dog heads in a small refrigerator – two belonging to Frank’s pets, according to court records.
Jason Brown, 24, was arrested July 9 and charged with six felony counts of torturing or maiming and killing an animal in the troubling case that has sparked public outrage.
Authorities said they were called to the motel in a busy area across the street from a shopping mall in suburban south Reno after a maid reported the discovery in a room Brown had been renting.
Officers also found two bloody kitchen knives, the scissors of a Swiss Army knife, two dog collars with rabies tags registered to Frank along with her dogs’ dishes, blankets and tennis balls she had given Brown to help make her pets happy.
On Wednesday, a half-dozen animal protection activists with signs demonstrated outside Reno Justice Court, where Brown’s status hearing had been scheduled but was continued to Oct. 16.
His lawyer, John Oakes, told the Reno Gazette-Journal last month that Brown has mental health issues and might need a psychiatric evaluation before he goes to trial.
Prosecutors say Brown killed five dogs at the motel and a sixth at another location. He was being held at the county jail on a $70,000 cash bond and could face more than 20 years in prison if convicted on all counts. The former Reno High School student also faces two counts of possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine.
Melissa Lubeck of Nevada Voters for Animals was among the protesters who turned out in front of the courthouse in hopes of making sure Brown doesn’t get out of jail anytime soon.
“We want to make sure justice is served,” Lubeck said. “We don’t want him to get any plea deal.”
Security was beefed up inside and outside the court complex. Citing concerns for Brown’s safety, the county jail did not make public the usual information about the status of an inmate.
“He is off our website for security reasons,” sheriff’s spokesman Bob Harmon said.
Court documents show that during Brown’s interrogation on July 9, he acknowledged he bought a dog from Frank and that he was living alone in the motel.
He initially said he entered the room two days earlier to find his gray dog dead in the bathroom, Washoe County sheriff’s Detective Joe Bowen wrote in a probable cause report. Brown said the dog looked like it had been cut up, and he suspected a girl named Debbie did it. He later changed his story, the report said.
Bowen said Cheryl Bluhm, a lifelong friend of Brown and his family who was interviewed by detectives the day of his arrest, said Brown talked about having “urges of rage” during a June 25 telephone conversation. The next day, she said, Brown told her he had killed his friend’s dog and it “made him high,” Bowen wrote.