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A Dog Is Shot Dead in Palm Coast’s W-Section, Triggering Murky Investigation–and Fear

| March 1, 2016

puppy killed palm coast W Section

Lucy, or Kia, was less than four months old.

Cautionary note: an image of the dog after it was killed appears below.

The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office and Palm Coast Animal Control are investigating the strange case of a puppy’s death, from apparent gunshots, in the city’s W Section sometime in the last 48 hours. Authorities are releasing little information, other than that the investigation is ongoing and, as a sheriff’s spokesman put it, “we’re getting a lot of different information.”

The family that once owned the puppy, and a family friend who first posted about the dog on Facebook when it was missing, spoke about the case at length on Tuesday. So did the man who owned the dog and acknowledged recovering it when it was dead. Both parties spoke of the death of the dog resulting in mutual fears of worse to come.

The three-and-a-half-month-old dog had belonged to Jody and Jackie LeMaster, 49 and 51, who live along the golf course on Wellington Drive. They’d called it Kia. One of their neighbors, Miles Smith, 31, lives across the green. The LeMasters have two pit bulls, and Jackie worried that one of the pit bulls might harm the puppy. He spoke about it with Smith, who offered to take the young dog.

“From then on every day, every hour, he was calling me, texting me,” Jackie said, “hey, Jack, when are you going to give me the dog.”

Jackie says Smith was insistent, so he went to Smith’s house to see how Kia would get along with Smith’s dog. They got along famously, Jackie said, so he agreed to give Smith the dog, thinking he could watch her grow up nearby. Smith called the dog Lucy.

Kitty Jones, a family friend—her son and the LeMaster’s son are close friends–says when Smith got the dog, he took Kia and the two young friends to PetSmart and spent $200 on treats and other things for the dog. Smith says he also took the dog to the vet and had to sell off some of his belongings to take care of it.

That was about three weeks ago.

At 1:53 Sunday morning, Jackie says his son got a text message from Smith that included a picture of Kia, or Lucy, apparently shot dead, in a bathtub, with no explanation.

Smith acknowledges that the picture came from his phone, and that he’d texted it because “I was letting them know that the dog had passed away. I haven’t done anything wrong.” Later, in a half-hour phone interview rife with rambles, contradictions, evasions and accusations, he said he had not sent the picture himself. He blamed Jones’s son, James Cortright, for doing so, claiming Cortright took the phone and texted the image to LeMaster’s son. And he repeatedly accused Cortright and Joshua LeMaster, the LeMasters’ son, for being “trouble-makers.” (Cortright and Joshua LeMaster have had their share of run-ins with the law.)

dog text image

The image of the dog texted from Smith’s phone early Sunday morning. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Asked where he’d found the dead dog, Smith said: “I’m not getting into any of that. I went all over to find the dog.” He says the dog ran away and he went after it all over the W Section to find it, but eventually said he’d found it somewhere “on Wellington.” He thought it had been hit by a dog. It’s not clear whether, in Smith’s telling, the dog was already dead at that point. “I thought it was hit by a car and now the police tells me it was shot, and now I’m sitting here worried someone is going to shoot me,” he said.  “Why would I take a dog to the vet then kill it?”

He said the dog had run away perhaps to go back to the LeMaster house. But asked if he’d gone to the LeMasters during his search, which would have been nearby, he said he hadn’t. H then spoke of finding the dog “bleeding to death” and taking it to his bathtub to see if he could save it.

Smith would not say how the dog died. “I’m very saddened about it,” he said, before at first declining to speak further, only to then speak of how much he’d cared for the dog.

“Somehow, the dog disappeared” after it died, Smith said. Smith says he put it at curbside for animal control to take it, but then it was gone.

The evening of Feb. 28, Jones posted a long note on a Facebook Swip-Swap page, saying Smith had sent the picture of the dead dog (she didn’t say to whom or how, nor identified the family in her posting). “What I am asking is if anyone finds Kia’s body, the family would like it returned, so they can bury her properly.”

Someone responded to Jones’s post, saying a dog was about two feet off the road in front of her house. It was Kia, or Lucy, and there the LeMasters found it surrounded by a “shrine,” which consisted of a small statuette of what may have looked like St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, as well as dozens of sugar packets, some of them soaked in blood, and a small black dog collar.

A case of animal cruelty, but no identified suspect.

The LeMasters called the sheriff’s office. They were initially told to bury the dog, they say, which startled them. They did not do so. They kept the dog, and on Tuesday afternoon turned it over to Palm Coast Animal Control, which took it to Flagler Animal Hospital, where they were ready to pay for a necropsy until they were told that the sheriff’s office would do so, as part of its criminal investigation.

“We are not identifying  a suspect at this time in this case and we are talking to individuals involved in the investigation,” a sheriff’s spokesman said Tuesday morning.

Jones and Jackie LeMaster say the deputy who spoke with Smith told them that Smith had provided several different accounts of what had happened—that the puppy had run away, that a neighbor shot the dog, that he didn’t know what had happened to the body—before refusing to speak further and going into his house. In the interview with FlaglerLive, Smith reiterated his intention no longer to speak with law enforcement.

Jackie LeMaster showed a reporter his phone with copious texts from Smith calling the LeMasters friends and appreciating their existence, but also sending new phone numbers and urging LeMaster not to share his number with police. He also showed a text where he made accusations: “I am not doing anything at this point,” went the text. “James caused all of this and I’m serious. Please let it go. All I ask.”

Smith described his life as a state of siege—his house is rimmed with surveillance cameras—from fear of his neighbors (the LeMasters), who he said have his other neighbors in fear, too. The LeMasters say the same thing about Smith, while Smith’s immediate neighbor, Jason Pellicer, shows a back window on his car that’s been shattered by a BB pellet. He blames Smith. Smith denies it.

Harming or killing a dog is animal cruelty, a first-degree felony. Earlier this month in Putnam County a man was found guilty of the charge after brutalizing a puppy and throwing it out of his car window. He faced up to five years in prison at sentencing.

puppy killed

(Provided by Kitty Jones)

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25 Responses for “A Dog Is Shot Dead in Palm Coast’s W-Section, Triggering Murky Investigation–and Fear”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Whoever did this is a monster! How can someone be so heartless? Poor little cu baby girl. Rest in peace.

  2. Eric says:

    Sickening. This person (scum) doesn’t have a soul.

  3. Howard Ethan says:

    This would not be a hard case to crack if law enforcement would investigate & charges were subsequently filed . Totally unacceptable to allow this to go unpunished . This is an opportunity to get a sociopath off the streets .

  4. Jay says:

    Having grown up in Palm Coast, I know there are many sick people there then, and the city has only gotten bigger since I left. I was one of the sick ones at that. I tortured and killed many animals in my youth, even though I loved my own dog, at the time, I would still scream at it and hit it with a newspaper. I had severe emotional and psychologicall issues. So to answer your question Anon, A person can be a product of their environment. In my case, it was me trying to find ways to express my anger and pain from having been bullied so badly for so long and from being molested by two of those bullies. One when I was in second or third grade, the other while I was in 7th or 8th. Teachers did nothing against the bullying. We even got in trouble if we didnt fight back…so what do you think that teaches a young person? Might as well fight and hurt the other person. Im sure the schools have gotten better since I went to BTMS, Im just trying to paint a picture as to how a person can become heartless as you say.

    Now then, Eric. I hate to tell you this, but I do have indeed have a soul. Always had one. Luckily I had family that made sure I got help and was somewhat rehabilitated. Now I may not exactly be a productive member of society, but I am much better now…20 years later, and raising kids that are as good as I was before Palm Coast got its claws into me. Now if anyone feels like being a interweb tough guy and talking crap, Ill go ahead and let you know I dont plan on checking in on this article after this. A friend posted a link, I read it and was severely troubled by the story. A reminder of what I used to be, whoever did this, needs help. Preferably someplace away from animals and people until they get better.

  5. anonymous says:

    This is preposterous!!… Living here with these questionable renters on this golf course has made life for the lives of many of us decent homeowners unbearable. Big monster trucks rev loud into the wee hours of the night, gunshots, going off all hours day and night, and ATV’s tearing up our golf course. Sheriff’s Dept has been called, time after time, same old story.
    And now this puppy story- I cannot wrap my head around this- now this young man Smith, obviously distraught and horrified by his lost puppy, becomes some kind of victim himself! And all these haters rise from the abyss- have no clue but to become Judge, Jury and Executioner….
    The “W” section has a number of Pit Bull haters, and act on ignorance- probably ARE capable of shooting dogs, belong out in the western part of this county. I don’t know myself what I would do if this happened to me, finding my dog bleeding to death, I truly feel sorry for Mr. Smith, and I think this is bull, as is the photoshopped picture I saw of this- I’ll say one thing, its deformation of character, it’s calumny, vilification and traducement and an insult to my intelligence..hang in there Mr.Smith, and condolences to you and your sweet puppy, this is crap and sorry you need to deal with this.

  6. Linda Sparda says:

    This is typically the responses you get from flagler sheriffs is absolutely va disgrace and disgusting case of animal cruelty.

  7. Anonymous says:

    This is beyond bizarre what in the world

  8. Diana Brown says:

    I will be surprised if this investigation results in an arrest. There is generally little interest in pursuing animal abuse cases in Flager and in Florida in general. But, if a person can shoot a puppy, they are a danger to all. I am basing my opinion on the details of this article but if the above is all true, it wouldn’t take Sherlock Holmes to solve this case.

  9. FED UP says:


  10. kc says:

    Jay, thank you for sharing.

  11. confidential says:

    These murderers with guns loose around us, sicken my days!
    Perpetrator needs to be found and sent to jail for no less than 5 years! They are a danger to us all. So much innocent animals cruelty I can hardly take it anymore. Oh God. Sheriff Manfre please find who did it!

  12. Foxworthy 7 says:

    Jay I can only imagine what it took to share that part of your life. Thank you for shedding some light on how a person could spiral out of control and do harmful things to others as well as animals. I hope and pray that you continue to get better.

    I have a question. Did you leave the town because the environment became filled with undesirables and negativity? I don’t know anything about Palm Coast except what a friend of mine is telling me. He just moved there 3 months ago and she never speaks of any negativity. As a matter of fact she says it is peaceful. Perhaps he hasn’t been in the PineCove-Belle Terre area long enough?

  13. Jim white says:

    It doesn’t surprise me this happens if the sheriff’s depth acted as it should they would have the person that did it but the depth needs a good house cleaning from top to bottom this county has a history of sheriff’s turn over rate I’ve tried reporting crimes and theyou don’t care

  14. william s harvey says:

    My question is: The Flagler County Sheriffs Dept. is not a “pet friendly” department. There have been many animal abuse cases and the sheriffs do not get involved. As you read in the article the sheriffs told the couple to bury it. No investigation until Flagler Live got involved. How about the case two weeks ago where Animal Control picked up a dead dog that was starved to death and the sheriffs office would not get involved. What, not a big enough case, no major murder or robbery, just a dog dead. I think the people of Flagler County need to get more involved and demand that the sheriffs office handle animal abuse cases more seriously than they do.

  15. Howard Ethan says:

    Nothing inherently wrong with Palm Coast & if you remove the “Cancer” that walks among us it will remain that way . Can be said of any community .

  16. Ariana386 says:

    I noticed that the person trying to sympathize with Smith signed in as “anonymous”–a wise choice. That man is unstable–he has surveillance cameras, bc he is riddled with issues. And he is blaming two other people–but he knows what happened to that puppy, and Smith was involved.
    As for “selling his belongings to take care of the dog”? That was a pretty good cover up story–Someone believed it, namely Ms. Jones. Imagine her surprise if she learned he was REALLY selling his belongings for drugs? What utter shock.

  17. Knightwatch says:

    This is among the most bizarre stories I’ve ever read. I am completely distressed that the people involved are walking our streets, can vote (although I doubt they do) and, most horrific, can procreate.


    The interesting thing about posting anonymously is that people in question can defend themselves ANONYMOUSLY. From what I’ve been told, this normally quiet street was wonderful until certain parties arrived. Neighbors are terrified and tired of continuously being harassed. You’re not fooling anyone, many people are coming forward telling stories of being terrorized. You need help. I would’ve replied directly to anonymous a few comment threads above me, but for some reason I couldn’t.

  19. Julie buryon says:

    That is so true about the sherif dept they don’t really care about animals 😪telling them to put the poor puppy on the curb they ought to be ashamed of themselves scum

  20. Gigi says:

    Very strange dynamic. Flagler live reported on both of the sons involved in the case in the last few years as well. They have had their own share of issues with breaking the law and are not exactly upstanding citizens….including harboring a 14 year old minor? lets not forget illegally discharging firearms . Bizarre case for sure and probably much more than meets the eye.

  21. Linda Sparda says:

    I want out of here too. Its actually more dangerous than Broward county where i was living and they actually have to gave college to be a deputy. They work non stop fighting crimes against criminals and locking them up. I never had problems there living in the city. I miss it and im going to get the hell out of dodge

  22. Linda Sparda says:

    Also, my comments to the guy who tortured animals at a younger age because of molestation and anger you still are sick to even do that. I had a horrible upbringing and not once did i ever hurt anyone much less an animal. Sorry poor excuse.

  23. Tom quigley says:

    Too many wack jobs with guns

  24. godscountry says:

    The police will have to figure this one out,as appears the adults can’t get their stories right.More guns,that will fix everything LOL background checks ?,oh thats right,we forget to check sometimes LOL.

  25. KK says:

    Sick sick man! You will pay for the pain you caused the innocent lives you have taken! You blame your torture of innocents on Palm Coast? Im just sad I wont be able to see you suffer like you caused many innocent animals to! There is NO forgiveness!

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