A criminal case involving Vonna Faye Hughes, who was arrested on July 8 on charges involving cruelty to three pit bulls in her care, will move forward, an Angels Camp Police Department news release said, despite the news that a necropsy for the dead dog Cici would not lead to a determination of the cause of death.
Hughes was arrested at her business, The Pet Bath House in Angels Camp, on suspicion of animal cruelty, grand theft of an animal, criminal conspiracy, and misdemeanor charges of animal neglect.
On July 24, an unidentified utility company employee tipped the Angels Camp Police Department to a dog’s remains he had seen on July 3 or 4 on the 900 block of Crestview Drive in Murphys.
The Angels Camp Police department took Cici’s remains to a Tuolumne County veterinarian, where x-rays and photographs were made. The information was provided to a veterinarian in Davis, who was scheduled to perform a necropsy to determine the cause of death. The veterinary staff in Davis determined that a necropsy would not yield any definitive results to determine a cause of death, the news release said.
The remains had presumably been on the side of the road for weeks since first being seen by the tipster and finally brought to the attention of the Angels Camp Police Department. There was blood in the bag, Angels Camp Police Department Chief Todd Fordahl said in late July. Depending on where the investigation leads, he said, the bag, leash and collar may be sent to the Department of Justice to check for fingerprints.
Steven Mendoza, of Mountain Ranch, had paid Hughes to board his dogs. He had been without a place where he could stay with his dogs since his house burned down in September 2015 the Butte Fire.
Mendoza was reunited with his dogs, Casper, 11, and Coco, 3, at Calaveras County Animal Services days prior to the discovery of Cici’s body.
Mendoza has been contact with Calaveras County Victim Services about the eventual court date, but could not confirm a set time for Hughes’ preliminary hearing.
When Hughes does face eventual charges, he said, he wanted “to see some justice done.”
“I basically do not anyone else to go through what I went through.”
An investigating Angels Camp police officer on the case also met with the District Attorney’s Office to confirm that the case was proceeding, and a preliminary hearing will be scheduled.
The Calaveras County District Attorney’s Office said that the case was still under review and no date had been scheduled for a preliminary hearing.
The news release also said that Calaveras County resident Michael Rutt, 42, was no longer being sought for information in the case.
A previous news release said that police believed Rutt was present when initial plans were made at the Pet Bath House to “dispose” of the dogs.
Rutt was also reportedly wanted for failing to report for a post-release community supervision probation program following his release from prison.
Patti Guy, 60, of Angels Camp, another suspect on three counts of killing, maiming or abusing animals, three counts of stealing animals, and one count of criminal conspiracy was not arrested by the Angels Camp Police Department after she was identified as a person of interest in late July.