Garrett Brian Birchfield, 26, 102 Heaton Ridge Road, Roan Mountain, was arrested Tuesday on charges that included four counts of intentional killing of animals, theft over $1,000, aggravated burglary, criminal impersonation and tampering or fabricating evidence.
His arrest came during an investigation into the dumping of recently killed animals at an illegal dumping site on Teaberry Road in Roan Mountain.
The investigation began April 1, when a Heaton Ridge Road resident reported to sheriff’s deputies that four dogs and a rifle were missing from her home.
After the deputies took the report, Sheriff’s Department Investigator Roger Brown was assigned the case.
Brown contacted the woman, and she told him she had found some .22 shell casings and what appeared to be pools of blood in her yard; Brown then told her he was on his way to her residence.
When he arrived, the woman told Brown an investigator had just left. She said that investigator had taken the shell casings she had found in the yard, took down the serial number of the missing rifle and took three more of her weapons for “data purposes.”
Brown told the woman the investigators with her at that moment were the only ones working the case.
The woman then pointed out a Ford Crown Victoria parked at a nearby residence, and said that was the car driven by the man who said he was investigating the case. The investigators approached the vehicle and noticed a .22-caliber rifle in the back seat.
The investigators then made contact with Birchfield, and said he denied any knowledge of the incident.
Brown said the investigation continued and Birchfield was developed as a suspect, and Birchfield was asked to come to the sheriff’s department for an interview.
He said that during the interview, Birchfield admitted forcibly entering the residence on Heaton Ridge Road, removing the dogs and shooting them in the yard. Brown said Birchfield then admitted taking the dogs and disposing of them on Teaberry Road.
Brown said Birchfield told him he then went back to the victim’s home and posed as a law enforcement officer and that he said he collected evidence and firearms from the residence.
Sheriff Dexter Lunceford praised the work of his deputies and investigators in the case. The Teaberry dumping site became a highly publicized controversy this month. He said that while it was satisfying to make an arrest in a case of animals being killed and dumped, he said simple cases of illegal dumping would be more difficult to solve.