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Hernando man charged with killing dog, hiding body

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County deputies have charged a 23-year-old man with animal cruelty, accusing him of killing his parents' dog and trying to hide the body.

Thomas Niederhelman told deputies that his son, Justin, had repeatedly hit the family's dachshund in the head with a flashlight. As a result, the 7-year-old dog eventually died.

Justin Niederhelman then wrapped the body in a blanket and hid it in a bag of dog food, Thomas Niederhelman told deputies. Justin left the bag outside.

Sheriff's officials said Justin denied being at his parents' house, but Justin's mother, Mary Niederhelman, confirmed to deputies that Justin had been at the house, on High Corner Road, east of Brooksville, earlier that day.

He previously had been charged in a July 21 felony domestic violence case involving his father, and had been ordered as part of his pretrial release not to have any contact with his father.

Justin Neiderhelman was also charged with violating his pretrial release. He was being held without bail Friday at the Hernando County Detention Center.

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