Women told suspect to get rid of dog, affidavit says

A man accused of dragging a dog to its death was told to “get rid” of the stolen animal after it had attacked a family cat, according to an arrest affidavit.

The affidavit, filed in Delta County Court in support of the arrest of 32-year-old Melissa Lockhart on charges of theft and false reporting, alleges Steven Romero, 37, did as he was told by Lockhart and another woman, Krista Morris, 18.

“Steven left with the dog and returned without it,” the affidavit said. “Steven told Melissa and Krista he had dragged the dog to death.”

Lockhart is Romero’s sister, although the affidavit doesn’t explain the relationship between him and Morris.

According to the affidavit, Morris told Delta police that Lockhart on late Dec. 29 or early Dec. 30 had brought a pair of dogs to Morris’ Grand Junction home, asking that they be kept there for awhile.

In a police interview on the morning of Dec. 30, Morris insisted Romero couldn’t have been involved in the dog’s death because Romero had been with her the entire day and night, sitting with her dying mother.

Hours later, Morris met with officers and returned a black Labrador; one of two dogs that Lockhart had left with her. Delta authorities have charged Lockhart with theft for allegedly stealing the dogs from a truck in downtown Delta on Dec. 29.

A dog named Buddy, found dead around 4:30 a.m. on Dec. 30 on Colorado National Monument, was one of the stolen dogs, authorities said.

Joseph Leber of Delta claimed ownership of the dogs.

According to the affidavit, Lockhart claimed she took the dogs from Delta after her sons found them in an abandoned house.

“I advised her that was not true,” Delta police Sgt. Brad Lamb wrote in the affidavit. “The dogs had gotten out of the bed of a pickup (owned by Leber family) and started playing with her children.”

The affidavit said Lockhart then insisted her children had told her the dogs were found in an abandoned house.

Lockhart said she took the dogs to her grandfather’s home in Delta, but when contacted by police, the man said his granddaughter’s claim was false.

A witness to the dog thefts called police to report the license plate of the suspect’s vehicle, which led back to Lockhart’s home in Fruita, according to the affidavit.

Delta police wrote that it wasn’t until early afternoon on Dec. 30, when investigators “finally” were told what they believe to be the truth about Buddy’s last hours.

“Melissa and Krista requested Steven get rid of the dog, and he did so,” the affidavit said. “Steven returned and told Melissa and Krista about the event, and they attempted to lie and mislead law enforcement during the entire investigation.”

Morris has not been arrested or charged in connection with the dog’s death.


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