|Timothy Cregg's tobacco-stained hand shook uncontrollably as he recalled killing his father nearly 30 years ago, then killing his puppy in October 2011. |
They were both causing him trouble, he told Target 8 in a recent interview, though the reasons he shot his father are "technical."
Killing the puppy is easier to explain, said Cregg, 48, who said he takes medication to control his mental illness.
"He had tore up a comforter," he said of his 5-month-old pitbull Snowball.
Not only that, he said, but Snowball had also messed on the floor of his Muskegon apartment.
"I said, 'Damn, man." I got up and seen that. I cleaned up the mess," said Cregg. "I said, 'I had enough of you, dog.'"
He hit the puppy three times in the head. "With a hammer, with a hammer, yeah, with a hammer. Yeah, with a hammer."
Then he cut the puppy's throat with a knife.
"It wasn't dead," he said. "I got panicky. I got panicky. I love dogs."
Perhaps it's no surprise what he did next. He dumped the puppy -- just like he had done with his father's body 29 years ago.
This time, it was in a Dumpster behind his apartment. That's where Muskegon police found the dog, which was shaking uncontrollably, before calling animal rescuers, who picked up Snowball.
On Monday, Cregg is scheduled to be sentenced for animal cruelty, to which he pleaded guilty in June. He is expected to get a sentence of probation and no more jail time.
He spent seven months in jail while awaiting psychological tests that first showed he was not competent to stand trial, then found he was competent. He was released on bond in early June and returned to his Muskegon apartment.
He likely could have gotten more jail time if he'd been convicted in the death of his father because he would have been a habitual offender.
The woman who had to euthanize Snowball said Cregg deserves prison -- if only to protect the public.
"What's next, a child?" said Diana Davis, manager of Pound Buddies in Muskegon. "Then, maybe they'll decide, 'Gee, we should have done something before.' ... It's disgusting. He's gotten away with the murder of a family member and a puppy that was supposed to be a family member, and he walks away."
Cregg's criminal history started when he was 17 years old. He left a bar with a woman, chased her into her bedroom and grabbed her. She fended him off with a knife. He got probation for sexual assault.
Two years later, the 19-year-old shot and killed his father Emmanuel Cregg at their home in Dalton Township. He shot him twice in the back with a shotgun, patched up bullet holes in the wall with tape, then dumped his father's body at a nearby creek.
"We've had our problems," Cregg told Target 8. "He was being a prick, being a prick, a little bit... I had my grudges. He always had something over on me, but it goes deeper than that, and I don't really want to get into it because it really gets technical."
At first, he told police he didn't do it.
"But the cops had insight, and they seen the pictures of my head, the insight in my head... They're so smart; you can't get away with anything."
He told police he did it because his dad was making "homosexual" moves on him. Doctors later called that a paranoid delusion.
A Muskegon judge found him not guilty by reason of insanity and sent him to the Center for Forensic Psychiatry near Ypsilanti. That's where he stayed for nearly two decades.
"Oh, yeah, oh, yeah, 20 years, 20 years," Cregg said.
Cregg said he thought about the killing every day while at the forensic center. "Twenty times 365. Think about that, 20 times 365. That's a long time. That's a long time. Twenty times 365. That's a long time. I thought about it every day of my life. Oh boy."
Doctors diagnosed him with "schizophrenia, paranoid type," and called him a "homicidal threat," according to Muskegon County probate records. He told them he heard the voices of children in his head.
The frequent reports from Ypsilanti were disturbing. They included attacks on staff and other patients as late as 1999 and 2000, one time using his radio as a weapon. At one point, he told doctors he had faked his mental illness.
Then, in 2003, after almost 20 years at Ypsilanti, Cregg was ordered to an alternative program by Muskegon Probate Judge Neil Mullally. Records don't show why.
The judge wouldn't comment, but his secretary told Target 8 that without a follow-up request from Muskegon Community Mental Health, the judge could no longer legally hold Cregg.
"I came out better," Cregg said. "I went to Kalamazoo and I got out. I was the happiest man in the world. I got out. I didn't think I was ever gonna get out."
A relative told Target 8 Cregg should have gone to prison and should never have been released. That relative, who didn't want to be named, said the family has nothing to do with Cregg and tries to avoid talking about what he did.
Then, last October, nearly nine years after his release, Cregg killed his puppy.
Police found the puppy "amongst a mound of trash" in the Dumpster, according to a police report. "The puppy was shaking and bloody," the report details. An officer covered the dog with an emergency blanket.
"Cregg advised he beat the dog because he was upset with her for chewing the comforter that his landlord bought him. Cregg advised the dog is a bad dog and chews everything. Cregg said he carried the dog to the bottom of the stairs and beat it in the head with the hammer to punish it," the reports reads.
He told police, "It's just a dog."
"It was a real pretty dog," he told Target 8 in the recent interview. "But I was really pissed at it. A lot of people said, you could have sold that dog, but I was pissed at the time. I wasn't thinking right."
Workers at Pound Buddies in Muskegon said there was nothing they could do to save the puppy, which had suffered brain damage.
"Just such a sweet puppy," said Davis, the Pound Buddies manager. "I mean, even with all these injuries, just wanted to sit there and have you hug on (her), and (she) wanted to give you kisses and everything else. (She) wasn't holding anything against the human race."
Snowball had a last snack of animal crackers and peanut butter.
"Just let her enjoy her last few minutes, letting her know that all people aren't like him," said Davis.
"This was the last place she took her last breath," Davis added, pointing to a cart in a back room.
She fears Cregg will kill again.
"I wouldn't want to live by him," Davis said. "I wouldn't want my animals, I wouldn't want my grandkids living by this person, not knowing what might happen. Just because if he's off his medications, or one of the kids is playing too loud and yells, laughs, what will he do?"
But Cregg said he's still taking his anti-psychotic medication and will stay out of trouble.
"I've been taking it for a long time. It's really helped me. It straightens me up. I like it. I take my medications pretty good right now, so it ain't no problem. ... I'm not gonna snap," he said. "I don't want to snap again."
Besides, he said, he knows he's being watched.
"The thing is, I'm being watched all the time. The house is heavily surveillanced. I know that, but I'm straight."