JONESVILLE -- Authorities in Lee County are hoping a $10,000 reward will lead to a breakthrough in the case of a K9 officer that was shot last month after being taken from a patrol car.
Lee County Sheriff Gary Parsons announced the increased award amount Monday. The $10,000 reward will be given for information that leads to an arrest and conviction for those responsible for the death of K9 Officer Chase.
Parsons added that his office is awaiting the results of DNA testing performed on the dog's collar to see if it matches with possible suspects.
The reward fund -- which has grown from its original amount in July of $3,500 -- includes commitments of $2,500 and $2,000 from the Lee County Farm Bureau and Bill Gatton Cadillac-Chevrolet, respectively. Donations totaling $1,000 each were made by the Lee County Board of Supervisors, Farmers and Miners Bank, Lee Bank and Trust Company, and Stapleton and Stapleton Investigations. Powell Valley National Bank, Lou's Country Deli, and Pete and Sally Sumpter donated $500 each to the reward.
The dog's decomposed remains were found in the Stone Creek community July 20 in a culvert off State Route 606, approximately two miles from where he was last seen.
An autopsy carried out in late July by the Virginia Tech College of Veterinary Medicine showed that Chase, a black German shepherd, died as the result of a gunshot wound.
The Lee County Sheriff's Office has declined to release details on the type of weapon used or the location of the gunshot due to the ongoing nature of the investigation.
The dog went missing when his handler, Deputy Roger Gates, made a short stop July 16 at Leeman Field on the outskirts of Pennington Gap.
After returning to his cruiser, Parsons said Gates noticed the K9 officer had apparently been taken from the back seat.
Officers unsuccessfully searched the immediate area for Chase before receiving a tip several days later that a dead dog matching the K9's description had been located near a trash bin three miles from the site where he went missing.
The dog's remains had been removed by the time officers arrived to verify the claim, Parsons said.
The dog was finally found several days later in a nearby culvert.