Meals on Wheels volunteer accused of killing dog during delivery - KPTV - FOX 12

Meals on Wheels volunteer accused of killing dog during delivery

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Donald Nicoli booking photo (Multnomah County Jail) Donald Nicoli booking photo (Multnomah County Jail)
GRESHAM, OR (KPTV) -

A Gresham Meal on Wheels volunteer was arrested Wednesday night on charges of aggravated animal abuse after police say he killed the dog of an elderly woman to whom he was delivering a meal.

Gresham Police said they believe Donald Nicoli, 68, killed a 6-year-old Chihuahua, possibly by stomping it to death.

Gresham resident June Rigsby, 70, called police after she found her dog “Baby” dead in her home shortly after Nicoli dropped off her meal on August 8.

According to police, Rigsby was in her bed, when she heard a knock on her door and a man calling her name. Investigators said Rigsby had an arrangement with Nicoli where she would leave her door unlocked and he would drop off meals.

“I didn’t talk to him much,” Rigsby told FOX 12, adding that Nicoli had been serving her meals once a week since March.

She said she had asked Nicoli to just leave the meals on an old-fashioned milk can that sits inside her door. Instead, she said, he would come into the kitchen to leave the meals, despite that she didn't prefer him coming that far into her apartment.

Rigsby told police that when she heard the knock, all three of her dogs, including “Baby,” went to greet Nicoli. Police said Rigsby then heard a thud and only two of her dogs returned back to her bedroom.

She told police she went to check on her other dog when Nicoli left the house and found the Chihuahua dead on the kitchen floor.

Investigators sent the dog’s remains to Oregon State University where it was determined the dog died of “blunt force trauma and multiple skull fractures.”

"There was blood everywhere," Rigsby told FOX 12. “Her jaw was definitely broken and her teeth were all broken.”

Police said Nicoli admitted in an interview to kicking the dog but could not remember specific details about the dog’s death.

Gresham Police said Nicoli does not have a criminal record. He was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center on one count of aggravated animal abuse and released.

Meals on Wheels marketing director Julie Piper Finley told FOX 12 that the organization is aware of the situation with Nicoli.

Finely said Nicoli has been a volunteer for around a year, noting that he passed a background check and that there have never been any complaints about him by other clients.

She called the "unusual circumstance" nothing the organization has seen before in its 46 years of operation.

Finley added that the organization was notified by Rigsby about the incident the day it happened and that Nicoli is suspended until an investigation can be completed.

“Our main concern is always for the safety of our clients,”  Finley said. “It is very disturbing and we extend our condolences to the client because of the loss of her pet.”

Rigsby told FOX 12 that since the death of her dog she feels "hurt and lost," adding that her other dogs were affected as well.

“I can’t sleep well at night because she always slept by my side,” she said. "My other dogs keep looking for her.” 

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