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Monday, November 18, 2013 - 7:35am

Police: Suspect Acted Alone In Macon Animal Shelter Break-In

Macon police say 36-year-old Crystal Gale Fessler acted alone in the All About Animals shelter break-in that resulted in the deaths of three rescue dogs.

Volunteers with the nonprofit no-kill shelter downtown arrived on the morning of October 17 to find dozens of dogs out of their cages. Two were mauled to death, another died shortly thereafter, and 13 were injured.

In a news conference Monday morning, Macon Police Lieutenant David Freeland explained what led investigators to Fessler, whom they arrested last week on one count of criminal trespass and 13 counts of cruelty to animals.

A tipster contacted police on Oct. 22, saying that he or she had spoken to Fessler the morning of the break-in at a Marathon gas station near the shelter.

“The tipster gave the information that this white female had shown up there with some injuries to her arm,” Freeland said. “She claimed to the tipster that those injuries were the result of her releasing some dogs from the local shelter just down the street.”

Fessler entered the All About Animals facility through a gap in the fence, and had no prior connection to the volunteer-run shelter, he said.

Freeland would not discuss Fessler’s motive before forwarding results of the police investigation to the District Attorney’s office, which he hopes to do by the end of the week, he said.

However, Freeland did say that Fessler did not break into the shelter to recover a dog she owned, and that she has no prior record of cruelty to animals.

Volunteers with the shelter suspected that someone had staged a dog fight there on the night of the break-in, because many of the most powerful breeds had been let out of their cages. They believed someone injured or antagonized the dogs to make them fight.

The story gained national attention, and local and national organizations offered a combined $18,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

However, since the earliest days of the investigation, police have been doubtful of the dog fight theory.

“From the initial investigation, before we questioned (Fessler), we believed that all the injuries to the dogs were because of the dogs being released,” Freeland said. “They injured themselves. There was no human involvement of the dogs being hurt, where a human, you know, committed the act.”

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