Deputies: 75-year-old neighbor arrested in stolen golden retriever case

PORT ORANGE, Fla. —A 75-year-old woman is in jail after she allegedly stole Dumpling, a golden retriever who went missing Feb. 5.

Celeste Neese had previously watched the 2-year-old dog for Wayne Dreier when he was on vacation, but denied stealing the dog or writing the anonymous letter Dreier received before Dumpling's disappearance.

By the time Volusia County Sheriff's Office deputies returned to interview Neese for the second time, she was not cooperative.

"She criticized the victim for the way that he cared for the dog and said that even if she knew where the dog was, she wouldn't tell," said Gary Davidson, Sheriff's Office spokesman. "She also said that if the dog had been stolen, it would be better off with a different family."

Neese allegedly arranged for a Flagler Beach couple to take care of Dumpling and dropped the dog off with them at a Walmart in Ormond Beach.

The couple told deputies they did not realize the dog was stolen and when they did, they dropped Dumpling off at the Flagler Humane Society.

Investigators obtained surveillance video of Neese and another woman dropping Dumpling off to the couple, deputies said. They are still investigating the role of the second woman.

Neese was charged with grand theft, dealing in stolen property and providing false information to law enforcement during an investigation. She was booked into the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach on a $12,500 bond.


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