Los Angeles Times

Man in the Window: Trail of violence

The "suspicious circumstances" call caught Sgt. Richard Shelby's attention. The night watch commander was sitting in his car, listening to radio chatter as the sheriff's patrol he supervised cruised the middle-class suburbs of Sacramento County's east side. Bored, Shelby decided to take a look himself.

A couple living in Rancho Cordova reported a prowler at a neighbor's house, but when Shelby and deputies got there, the house was locked tight and the street quiet.

The sheriff's detail left, and the couple called again. Minutes after police left, they saw a man jump from their neighbor's roof, hit the ground in stride and vault over a fence. Shelby arrived first to walk the property. By the door of the garage he found a bloody stick of firewood. It was flecked with flesh.

"Here we go," he thought.

The lanky, dark-haired sergeant entered the dark house alone, his flashlight off, prepared to catch a prowler by surprise. The rooms were in order, nothing amiss. He rounded a bed. Halfway under the frame lay the family's small dog, disemboweled by the blows of the log.

It was the latest in a string of home break-ins in the eastern Sacramento suburb in which the intruder sometimes killed dogs. The burglaries unnerved the community, but police largely considered the minor thefts to be nuisance crimes.

The first victim to make the papers was Pups, an overweight 10-year-old hound who was a bit of a celebrity in his corner of Rancho Cordova. Children loved him

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