CALADONIA, Mich. - Aaron Dekkinga, 22, was charged with killing and torturing his girlfriend's family dog, a six-year-old Pomeranian named Wookie. The dog was found dead after the family returned home from their vacation at Disney World.
The case against Dekkinga is just now moving forward in court. Eight months after the incident, the Szabo family is reliving the loss of their treasured pet.
Baleigh Szabo, Dekkinga's former girlfriend, said she first heard about Wookie's physical state via text from Dekkinga, who was caring for the dog. "Just some of the text and things he was saying didn’t make sense," she said. "He had said, 'Maybe Wookie ate a dirty diaper and got sick from that.' Nothing had made sense. We kept calling, and he wouldn’t answer."
A family friend checked on Wookie and found him dead, said Brandi Szabo, Baleigh's mother. A local veterinarian found bruises, a broken pelvis, and multiple broken ribs and concluded the dog was beaten to death.
"Our pets are a part of our family, and it’s murder, it’s torture. It’s not right."
The case sparked an investigation, and eight months later Dekkinga was formally charged with killing and torturing an animal. He was also charged with perjury, accused of lying under oath to a peace officer.
Now the Szabos have only pictures and an urn containing Wookie's cremated remains, though the family now has Olaf, a Pomeranian puppy to help alleviate some of the pain.
Baleigh and Dekkinga have a child together. He still has visitation rights to see their daughter, but Baleigh filed for a restraining order against the him after the dog was killed.
Aaron Dekkinga didn't have a comment for us when we spoke to him at his home in Wyoming. He bonded out of jail after being charged on Monday.
The experience has shaken the family's sense of security.
"After we got back from Disney, I had security put on the house and things, just because I’m afraid if I make him mad enough, you know, he’ll come," said Szabo.