Dog beaten, strangled to death, found on side of road in Plymouth; two suspects charged

Published on Monday, 2 March 2020 16:30


PLYMOUTH - Two people have been charged after a dog was beaten and strangled to death in October and found dead 10 days later on the side of a road, abandoned and wrapped in a sheet.

Police allege Christopher Torres, 33, of 13 Wood Court, punched and kicked the dog and dragged him by a chain collar around his neck before he died on Halloween, police wrote in the arrest warrant. Investigators allege he was upset that the animal, a bull terrier named Zero, had had an accident inside his apartment that day.

Torres’ wife, Harlee Janiak, 31, has also been charged after allegedly lying to an animal control officer who investigated the dog’s death.

The animal was found dead on Nov. 10 in the area of 489 S. Main St., wrapped in a bed sheet. He had scabs that were similar to flee bites and no collar. An animal control officer noted that the dog, which was on the side of the road, showed signs that he had been dead for quite some time.

During the investigation, authorities received multiple anonymous tips about “the suspicious circumstances around Zero’s disappearance and death,” and from these tips were able to tie the dog to Torres and Janiak, according to the warrant. One person told police Torres was witnessed beating the dog the day he died. The informant wished to remain anonymous out of fear for what Torres might do.

The witness told police Torres was mad at Zero because of an accident he had inside his apartment on Oct. 31. He then threw the dog outside, but Zero ran back in to get out of the rain, an officer was told.

Torres, the witness told the animal control officer, then began punching and kicking Zero, who could be heard crying as he was being struck, the warrant said. The crying got louder as the beating continued, an officer wrote. Torres, the witness alleges, then kicked the animal into the basement of the apartment, where the violence continued.

According to the warrant, a chain could be heard rattling in the basement before Torres emerged upstairs, dragging Zero by his chain collar. The witness told police Torres then said that, if the dog was home when he returned, he would kill it, before storming out of the apartment, the warrant said.

Zero was lying limp on the floor of the apartment and died shortly thereafter, the witness told an officer. Torres and Janiak, police were told by the informant, later wrapped up the animal in a sheet before Torres said he would bury him, according to the warrant.

An officer wrote in the affidavit that a child who lives in the apartment building saw part of the beating through a window.

During the investigation, an animal control officer spoke to Janiak at her place of employment, in Bristol, where she identified the dog that was left on the side of the road as Zero, the warrant said. She said he ran away around Halloween and hasn’t been seen since, according to the affidavit. Janiak, an officer wrote, became upset when she was asked again about what happened and told the investigator he needed to talk to her husband.

The officer then spoke to Torres, who also said Zero was let outside around Halloween and ran away, the warrant said. He said he looked for the dog and could not find him.

During the investigation, the animal control officer found two Facebook posts made by Janiak on Oct. 31, one of which alluded to the dog being dead. The first post said, among other things, “I don’t Wanna (sic) deal with today,” the warrant said.

A second post, which included a photo of Janiak with a bull terrier, said “I loved you so much…” and “rip Zero,” according to the warrant. The second post appears to have been deleted as of Monday.

Torres and Janiak were both arrested Friday. Torres faces charges of maliciously wounding or killing an animal, providing a false statement, risk of injury to a child and obstructing an animal control officer.

Janiak faces charges of cruelty to animals and obstructing an animal control officer.

Both Torres and Janiak were arraigned Friday in New Britain Superior Court, where they were ordered not to possess any animals while their cases are pending.

Torres is being held on $50,000 bond. His criminal history includes petty theft, burglary and grand theft, court officials said. He is due back in court on March 16.

Janiak posted $1,000 bond following her arraignment, where court officials said she has no criminal history. She is also due back in court on March 16.

The warrant in the case was released on Monday.

Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or

Posted in New Britain Herald, General News on Monday, 2 March 2020 16:30. Updated: Monday, 2 March 2020 16:33.