STEVENSON, Wash. – Deputies arrived to find a terrifying scene at a Stevenson home where they said a man had killed a dog with an explosive device on Sunday.
Christopher W. Dillingham, 45, was charged with reckless endangerment and possession of an explosive device after investigators determined he attached the explosive device to a yellow lab's neck and detonated it.
Court documents say deputies responded to a call at around 4 a.m. from Dillingham’s nephew who said Dillingham had “blown up his dog” and was ransacking his house. Several neighbors had also called 911 to report a loud explosion.
When they arrived, deputies said they found a couch that appeared to have been thrown out of a window and saw more things being thrown out onto the lawn.
Dillingham's nephew told police that Dillingham's son and a friend had slept through the explosion, but were woken up by Dillingham asking them for help throwing the couch out of the house, according to court documents.
Deputies said they arrested Dillingham without incident, but that he believed the world was going to end due to a nuclear strike. He also said he was throwing all the metal items in the house out onto the lawn because they contained “the souls of demons.”
Deputies wrote in court documents they found the dead dog, named Cabela, decapitated. When they asked if and why he had killed it, they said Dillingham calmly told them the dog had been given to him by his ex-girlfriend, and that she had “put the devil in it."
Deputies said Dillingham told them he made the explosive device on his work bench using black powder from fireworks, which he sold from a stand.
He said he then strapped the device to the dog’s neck, lured it into complacency with dog treats and hid behind a wall to protect himself during the detonation, according to court documents.
Authorities said there was no indication Dillingham was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Animal cruelty charge
Skamania County prosecutors did not initially charge Dillingham with animal cruelty at his first appearance on Monday.
Prosecuting Attorney Adam Kick said his office was more focused on the stiffer charges that would lead to Dillingham being held in jail on higher bail. Possession of an explosive device is a class A felony with a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, compared to first-degree animal cruelty, which carries a maximum punishment of 12 months.
Kick said animal cruelty was never taken off the table, as was initially reported to the media. Sheriff's deputies had said there was a question whether prosecutors could charge it because the statute calls for evidence of pain and suffering and the dog had died instantly.
"There was never a point where we said we're not going to charge animal cruelty," Kick said.
"We chose the (charges) that were most clearly geared toward protecting the public and keeping Mr. Dillingham in custody. We were always still reviewing the statute on animal cruelty."
Dillingham will be arraigned on formal charges Aug. 15. It's likely he will face more charges.
"After additional research it appears animal cruelty is absolutely applicable," Kick said.