CORAL GABLES (CBS4) – Coral Gables Police are investigating a family’s suspicions that their dog was killed as payback for a cat mauling that occurred two days earlier.
Chester, an American Bulldog, was found dead in the pool behind his family’s home on April 14th.
“It’s too much of a coincidence,” said Mayra Joli-Befera.
Joli-Befera said Chester gave her family great “love and devotion” after she and her husband Steven and their son Ishmael adopted the dog, a stray they found in a park.
On April 12th, two days before Chester was found dead, Laura Fabar, a neighbor a few blocks away, filed a police report saying she suspected the Befera’s dog of mauling two of her cats, killing one of them – a tabby named “Lucky.”
The day Chester was discovered in the pool, Liana Fabar-Jahann, Fabar’s 25 year-old daughter, delivered a “to whom it may concern” letter to Befera’s house. The seven page letter expressed heartbreak over the loss of the cat and anger that the dog had been allowed to roam.
“I must admit feeling so angry I wanted to figuratively, kill the dog responsible,” Fabar-Jahann wrote in the letter that concluded with the line, “Not ALL dogs go to heaven.”
Given the allegations that Chester had mauled the neighbors’ cats, and the angry letter they received, the Beferas had a necropsy – the animal equivalent of an autopsy – performed on their dog.
Dr. Roberto Aguiar found that Chester had suffered “trauma” to both sides of his head, the back of his neck, and his chest before going into the pool.
Aguiar told CBS4 News that it appeared the dog had been beaten with an “object” of some sort.
In his report to the Befera family, the veterinarian said the dog’s “nails and paws had no damage, which means he did not try to claw himself out of the pool.”
“It has been my experience that dogs have the innate ability to swim, and do not drown,” The vet said.
The Beferas say Chester had played in the pool a number of times and had no trouble getting out.
The family filed a report with police, giving them the veterinarian’s findings and expressing concern that the alleged cat mauling was behind their dog’s death.
Laura Fabar declined to comment for this story, but her husband called CBS4 News to emphatically refute the Beferas’ suspicions.
“We categorically deny having anything to do with the death of the dog,” Thomas Equels said. “If you publish any aspersions as it relates to that, action will be taken.”
Equels went on to suggest that the dog’s owners should be the first to be questioned.
“You should pay close attention to those who had possession of the dog,” Equels said. “That’s a logical place to look.”
Liana Fabar-Jahann, who wrote the angry letter to the Beferas the day Chester was discovered dead, told CBS4 News, “I don’t believe in an eye for an eye. I wrote a letter so they would keep their dog in, and under control.”
As for the “kill the dog” reference in her letter, Fabar-Jahann said “I meant that figuratively, not literally.”
Coral Gables police have interviewed members of both families and their probe is on-going.
“I want to see justice for Chester,” Mayra Joli-Befera said. “This is not a matter of vengeance. This is not a matter of getting back at anybody. Our dog was innocent.”
The Beferas say Chester did not maul the Fabar’s cats, that he has an alibi.
“He was home, with us,” Joli-Befera said.