Henderson man arrested in death of burned dog

Local News

HENDERSON, Ky. (WEHT) – A Henderson man has been arrested and charged with burning a small dog to death.

Henderson Police arrested Bryan K. Matthews Jr., 32, on Thursday night. Police say Matthews is charged with torturing a dog with serious injury or death and 3rd Degree arson. Eyewitness News was on scene in the 2700 block of Zion Road when officers made the arrest.

Duke, the miniature poodle, was found burned inside a restroom at the Henderson County Fairgrounds earlier this month.

On Wednesday, a national reward fund was established. A reward of more than $16,000 had been raised to help find Duke the dog’s killer.

Gina Howard, Duke’s owner told says she and her family were mourning the loss of a loved one the night Duke went missing.

They searched for him but had no luck and while she is relieved someone has been arrested she finds it hard to understand why it happened.

“I’ve never seen this person before in my life,” Gina Howard cries.

Howard is still coping with the death of her beloved dog Duke and a stranger has been accused of the crime.

“Not knowing and not knowing what they’re capable of made my anxiety 10 times worse by far,” she explains

Bryan Matthews Jr. was arrested in connection to the poodle’s death.

The day Duke went missing, Howard and her family were dealing with another loss. Mariah Strother, the woman who was murdered at a Conoco gas station in Evansville was Howard’s former boyfriend’s daughter. Howard says her family searched for duke but had no luck.

The next day she says she got a call from the Henderson County Humane Society, “I thought that they had found him because they had not said anything was wrong. They just said ‘yes we have and we need you to come in and we need to talk to you’ so I thought, ‘I’m going to have a doggy bond and I’m in trouble because my dog was out without a leash but he’s safe.’”

But that wasn’t what she heard.

“And then when I get there is when they release that he was no longer with us and that he had been burned.”

Ardee Bell with the Henderson County Humane Society was there with Howard when Matthews was arrested.

“I haven’t found a word for it yet and I’m really at a loss for words. Gratifying is of course one. You never know how long these things are going to take because so often they go unsolved,” Bell explains.

Howard says she is praying for Bryan Matthews Jr., “whatever demons he’s fighting we’re going through. I don’t hate anybody I don’t want to put it out there to the community. Am I devastated, and I hurt, yes. I am lost, my kids are hurt, but I don’t want to wish any bad on anyone. But I want full justice served.”

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(This story was originally published on June 18, 2020)

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