Princess, a beloved, 400-pound pet pig raised by a family in Arcata, California, was butchered in March after she wandered away from home — and now an accused killer is facing charges.
Jeffrey Cody Miller, 32, pleaded not guilty in Humboldt County court on Tuesday to felony charges of animal cruelty and grand theft after he was arrested on suspicion of drug possession last week, the Eureka Times-Standard reports. Another man, Ed Jessie Ramos, also faces charges in the pig’s death, according to the newspaper.
Miller is being held in custody without bail and faces unrelated drug and probation violation charges, Lost Coast Outpost reports.
Carrie Hogan and her family cared for Princess since she was a piglet — but on March 23, the 14-month-old sow wandered away from the home on Fickle Hill Road where she was being kept, according to the Outpost.
Eventually the runaway pig was located, and police asked a neighbor to watch the animal as they tracked down the owners, authorities said. The pig was being slaughtered by the time police and the pet’s caretakers came to get her, as McClatchy reported earlier this year.
“He said he had experience with livestock,” Arcata Police Department Officer Charles Anderson said, adding that the suspect portrayed himself as a seasoned pig rancher, according to Mad River Union. “If Miller hadn’t been there, things wouldn’t have gone the way they did.”
The animal’s carcass was being divvied up into 30 or more “Seal A Meal” bags of meat when her handlers found what was happening, the publication reported.
“Obviously that was a bit of a shock to everyone involved,” Lt. Todd Dockweiler of the Arcata Police Department said, SFGATE reported in April. “Given the stage of the butchering process he was in, he must have slaughtered the pig very shortly after the officer left.”
Hogan’s mother was watching Princess before the escape and confronted the man butchering their pet, the Outpost reported. Hogan said the man told her mother in response that “you have no right to be on this property.”
Princess’ family was in shock after her death and called the pig “very sweet,” the Outpost reported in March.
“I think that the hardest part of this is knowing that there’s somebody out there that’s this kind of a savage,” Hogan said, according to the Outpost.
The Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office’s felony complaint against both men accused in the slaughter said they “did unlawfully, maliciously and intentionally kill Princess the Pig,” according to the Outpost.
Arcata police and a family member pointed to Miller as a suspect in the pig’s death, and the family member said Miller “was apparently managing the processing of the pig’s meat,” Mad River Union reports.
Hogan said the family was told of Miller’s arrest on Monday, Mad River Union reports. But “that doesn’t give us our Princess back,” Hogan said, according to the publication.
“It’s just not clear what the thought process was,” Dockweiler said of the crime, SFGATE reported. “He obviously knew the pig didn’t belong to him and he didn’t have the right to slaughter it.”
Miller is set to appear in court again on June 3, according to the Times-Standard.
Ramos is scheduled to appear in court on June 4 on charges of animal cruelty, grand theft and receiving stolen property, according to Mad River Union.