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Animal cruelty investigation leads police to drugs, guns

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 6 2011 1:07 p.m. MST

Harry John Freeman, 34, is accused of using rat poison and antifreeze to kill a German shepherd in Naples, Uintah County. Naples police say a search of Freeman's home turned up a stash of drugs and guns. (, Uintah County Jail) Harry John Freeman, 34, is accused of using rat poison and antifreeze to kill a German shepherd in Naples, Uintah County. Naples police say a search of Freeman's home turned up a stash of drugs and guns. (, Uintah County Jail)

NAPLES, Uintah County — Two people are in jail after police say they uncovered a stash of drugs and guns while investigating the poisoning of a German shepherd.

The dog was poisoned late last month in its front yard with a mix of rat poison and antifreeze, according to Naples Police Chief Mark Watkins. There were several small children living at the home who could have also been exposed to the poison, which made it a high priority case, Watkins said.

Investigators visited several retailers looking for individuals who may have purchased large amounts of rat poison and antifreeze. They found what they were looking for after reviewing surveillance video from the Walmart store in Vernal, Watkins said.

Police interviewed Harry John Freeman and Melinda Roper, based on the surveillance video. Both acknowledged that they had poisoned the dog, Watkins said.

Melinda Roper, 35, is accused of using rat poison and antifreeze to kill a German shepherd in Naples, Uintah County. Naples police say a search of Roper's home turned up a stash of drugs and guns. (, Uintah County Jail) Melinda Roper, 35, is accused of using rat poison and antifreeze to kill a German shepherd in Naples, Uintah County. Naples police say a search of Roper's home turned up a stash of drugs and guns. (, Uintah County Jail)

Officers executed a search warrant on the home Freeman and Roper share, searching for additional evidence that might tie them to the poisoning. They found 2 pounds of synthetic marijuana, as well as smaller quantities of methamphetamine, marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms, according to Watkins. A rifle and handgun were also found in the home.

Freeman, 34, was booked into the Uintah County Jail for investigation of possession of a dangerous weapon by a felon, cruelty to animals, reckless endangerment and drug possession.

Roper, 35, was also booked into the jail for investigation of cruelty to animals, reckless endangerment and drug possession.

No formal charges have been filed.

Police do not believe the poisoning of the German shepherd was tied to Freeman and Roper's alleged drug activity, Watkins said.

Geoff Liesik Twitter: GeoffLiesik

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