CHARLESTON, W.Va. — An arrest warrant was issued Thursday evening for a Charleston man wanted in an animal cruelty case.

Charleston Police Department

John Tay Copening

Police allege John “Tay” Copening Jr., 23, killed a female pit bull earlier this week by hanging the dog from a tree.

“He is charged with animal cruelty. He is being charged with killing the dog,” Charleston Police Chief Steve Cooper said. “That (surveillance) footage was released and he has been identified as the individual with the dog going to the railroad tracks and he has been identified with the dog in other parts of town leading up to the crime.”

The dog was found Tuesday hanging by a chain near Madison Street on Charleston’s West Side.

Police were able to use video from a resident’s security camera to aid in the investigation, Cooper said.


Surveillance photos of the man walking the dog.

“The surveillance helped a great deal and we’ve had other witness information from around town and other surveillance video,” he said. “It’s just really a heinous act and a disgusting crime.”

As of Thursday evening, police didn’t know where Copening was and were asking for the public’s help. Cooper said it’s possible he may have skipped town.

Anyone with information is asked to call Charleston police at 304-348-8111. They can remain anonymous, police said.

Earlier Thursday, police were looking for Jimi Bonner, of Charleston, as a material witness in the case. Cooper said Bonner will not be charged.

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