By Joan Murray

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A 19-year-old Sunrise man is in the Broward jail accused of killing a disabled dog that captured the hearts of animal activists everywhere.

Jephthe Jean Francois is charged with 15 criminal counts ranging from causing cruel death, pain, and suffering of an animal to burglary.

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Investigators say he stole a car with Zorra in the backseat on October 3rd in Oakland Park and ditched the Volvo station wagon at an apartment complex with the windows up causing her to die likely of heatstroke.

The car was towed from the complex Monday night to the Westway tow yard in Lauderdale Lakes and that’s when her remains were found.

“This person could have done the right thing, but he left my baby to die in the car,” said Zorra’s owner Wanda Ferrari.

Investigators say Jean Francois was arrested in Wilton Manors on Wednesday night where he had committed several home burglaries.

Jephthe Jean Francois

Jephthe Jean Francois appeared before a Broward judge Thursday morning. (CBS4)

Police say he had the key to Ferrari’s stolen Volvo in his possession.

“He could have put her out where someone could have found her,” said Ferrari. “What kind of monster does that?”

Investigators say Jean Francois is seen on surveillance stealing the car and he was wearing a GPS tracking device from another criminal case that proves he was in the parking lot.

“We need to stay focused on justice for Zorra,” said Amy Roman, whose rescue group publicized Zorra’s story and offered a reward in the case,

She sants Jean Francois’ punishment to fit the crime.

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“He needs to pay the max and if it’s not enough, we need to change laws,” she said.

Last Thursday, Wanda Ferrari was in a shopping center located in the 3400 block of Andrews Avenue when her car was stolen with Zorra inside.

She had left the car running with the air conditioning on for Zorra while she popped into the Dollar Tree store.

When she returned, the car and the dog were gone.

“That is my child. I am going through breast cancer again. She went through it with me the first time,” Ferrari explained. “We rescued her.
She’s a rescue. She rescued me, I’m rescuing her. She’s rescuing me back.”

Zorra was Ferrari’s constant companion.

Zorra’s back legs were paralyzed and her front legs don’t work. She was forced to use a pink wheelchair.

“I was in shock,” said Ferrari after she realized what had happened.

Rescue groups like Abandoned Dogs of the Everglades took up the cause asking everyone to spread Zorra’s picture and story.

Earlier this week, Ferrari, pleaded with the public, “Please bring my child home. I’m going through cancer again. I need her, she’s my rock.”

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Francois is being held without bond at Broward’s main jail.