On Tuesday of this week a woman told Redding Police a story that painted a picture of a disturbed but focused man, who had not only physically abused her, but did so psychologically as well, and may have involved feeding her the remains of her own beloved dog.
The woman told police that her ex-boyfriend, Ryan Eddy Watenpaugh, 34 of Palo Cedro, the small community just east of Redding, had been abusing her over the past several months. According to a Redding PD press release, she said she had sustained bruises and minor abrasions from his repeated assaults, and on two occasions he had held her against her will during an episode of abuse.
The last incident she noted happened on Monday August 4. She and Watenbaugh were once again arguing, and he was once again physically abusive towards her. She was able to run away from him, leaving her Redding area apartment out the back door. After a time, she came back, not only finding Watenpaugh gone, but her pet dog, a Pomeranian named Bear, was also missing. She was never able to find her lost dog.
A month later, Watenpaugh was able to convince the woman to get back together, and served her a meal he had cooked for them. His reconciliation efforts, however, turned out to be insincere, and were proven to be part of an effort to exact revenge on her. On Sunday, September 7, he sent the woman a text message asking how she enjoyed the meal he had prepared, and how her dog tasted.
He followed that text with several more, each telling her what he was going to do with the rest of the remains of her dog, and said he would be returning its paws to her. On Tuesday of this week, at 1 am, she heard a truck outside of her apartment. She witnessed Watenpaugh get out of the truck, approach her front door and leave a bag there, and then leave. When she opened the door, she found the bag contained two severed dog paws matching her missing dog, confirming in her mind that he had really killed Bear.
She then reported the whole story to police, who opened an investigation. They obtained an arrest and search warrant for him, his vehicle, and residence. On Wednesday they began surveillance of his home in an effort to find him, and at 6 pm he was located and arrested in a traffic stop on Silver Bridge Road in the rural area south of Palo Cedro. Shasta County Sheriff’s Deputies and state Corrections and Rehabilitation Special Services Unit assisted in the investigation and arrest.
During their interview with Watenbaugh, he reportedly admitted to sending the text messages and delivering the dog paws, but denied killing or cooking the dog. He apparently did not explain where he got the dog’s paws, or if he had an accomplice who helped. A search of his home did not reveal any new evidence about the dog, but they did find a Romanian AK-47 assault rifle, and several high capacity magazines for it.
Watenbaugh was booked at the Shasta County Jail on charges of domestic violence, false imprisonment, stalking, and animal cruelty. Illegal weapons charges with likely be added as well. His bail was set at $250,000.00.
Update 11/05/14: A story in KRCR news published yesterday reported the Watenpaugh is set to stand trial for the charges against him next year, but there is evidence that the meat served to the victim was not her dog, but pulled pork. His attorney also stated that the dog was killed by a car and Watenpaugh found him. More details on KRCR News.