HIGHTSTOWN - Authorities say a Mercer County woman used a shovel and claw hammer to fatally beat her family's dog and then bragged about it.
Mercer County prosecutors say 19-year-old Michelle Wankoff, of Hightstown, faces several counts, including animal cruelty and tampering with evidence. The charges stem from an investigation that began when Hightstown police got a tip that Wankoff had bragged about killing and burying the 9-year-old mixed breed dog.
Authorities say Wankoff initially tried to poison the dog with various medications late last month. When that failed, they say she repeatedly hit the dog about the head with a shovel and claw hammer until he died.
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After storing the dog's body in a small refrigerator in her bedroom for a few days, authorities say Wankoff buried the dog in a shallow grave in the woods near her home. The grave was discovered by Hightstown police and SPCA police on July 25.
In addition to animal cruelty charges, Wankoff was also charged with weapons possession. Her bail was set at $25,000.
Tyler Phernamucq, a friend of Wankoff's, was issued a summons for tampering with evidence. He allegedly helped assist in the burial of the dog.
The Mercer County Prosecutor's Office has not released when Wankoff or Phernamucq will appear in court.
The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.