A Kiln man is on the run after allegedly breaking into the Hancock County Animal Shelter and stealing his pit bull before it could be euthanized, according to authorities.
Norman Archer Jr., 59, is wanted on felony charges of commercial burglary, larceny and retaliation against a public official after breaking into the Hancock County Animal Shelter on Saturday, court papers show.
Archer is accused of breaking into the shelter and taking his white and tan pit bull named Diesel from the kennel area, the reports said.
The break-in occurred a day after Justice Court Judge Desmond Hoda ordered the dog to be euthanized after it mauled a 6-year-old girl, resulting in severe injuries.
Later Saturday, Hoda’s dog, an 8-year-old German Shepard named Achilles, went missing and was found dead the next day of suspected poisoning.
Archer had been spotted around Hoda’s property before the judge’s dog went missing.
Hancock County Sheriff’s Commander Christopher Robbin confirmed the additional retaliation charge is connected to the death of the judge’s dog.
“This is an active investigation,” Robbins said. “We are actively looking for him.”
The Sun Herald reached out to Hoda, who confirmed the death of his pet due to possible poisoning and the sighting of Archer on his property prior to his dog’s disappearance.
The judge declined to talk further because of the ongoing investigation and the emotional toll surrounding his dog’s death.
Hoda and other Hancock County Justice Court judges have tried for over a year to require Archer to keep his dog confined and to post warning signs about the dog being aggressive so he could keep his dog without endangering the public.
But in the final order to euthanize Diesel, Hoda cited the dog’s “repeated and unprovoked” attacks for over a year on other dogs and people that culminated in an Oct. 20 mauling of a 6-year-old girl. The little girl had such severe injuries, Hoda wrote, that she had to be airlifted to a hospital for treatment.
In the filings, Hoda detailed how Hancock County Animal Control Officer Travis Vernaci had witnessed the pit bull attacking other dogs and how the officer had to use his Taser on him.
Archer tried to argue his dog was gentle and wouldn’t attack people.
Hancock County Court Judge Trent Farve signed the criminal affidavits for the arrest of Archer on the three charges Tuesday. Justice Court judges had to step aside because of their prior involvement with Archer.
To report information on Archer, call the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department at 228-466-9600 or Mississippi Coast Crime Stoppers at 877-787-5898.