KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) - Sam Steel, arrested Monday by the FBI near Atlanta for a 2011 murder in Kalamazoo, has ties to at least one of the men arrested for dog fighting.
Kelvin Thomas was arrested Aug. 3 and Leonard Turner was arrested Monday after 46 dogs were removed from two homes in Kalamazoo County in connection with a dog-fighting case.
This story involves a shooting, a search warrant, and dog semen at sperm banks.
On April 24, 2011 -- Easter Sunday -- police maintain Steel , feeling he'd been robbed of something, shot and killed Milo Conklin. Steel is a suspect, but police did not have the evidence they needed to arrest him.
Fast forward to November 2011. Kalamazoo Animal Control served a warrant on Steel at his home on Douglas Avenue charging him with keeping and breeding fighting dogs. The officers seized breeding records that, they said, were very well maintained.
Attached to those breeding records, said Steve Lawrence of the Kalamazoo Animal Control, "is the owner of those animals. Of course, when we do a search warrant and we're able to find that paperwork, you now have additional names."
In December 2011, police issued a warrant for Steel for Conklin's murder. He fled the area.
The investigation continues, and animal control officer Julie Barber knew Steel was using sperm banks to preserve his dog's blood line, and she contacted those banks.
"A few weeks ago, (sperm bank officials) made contact with the officer and they told her (Steel) had been trying to contact them several times to move the sperm out of state," Lawrence said. "They had the phone numbers he called from."
Those phone numbers were given to the FBI Fugitive Task Force, and on Monday Steel was taken into custody because of the trail he left behind as a dog-fighter.
The sperm banks he was using are not sure if the dog semen is from a fighting dog. Breeders can make a lot of money selling champion sperm.
Dog fighters are forced to keep very accurate records of their breeding and fighting activities to increase the value of their stock. When warrants are issued, large amounts of those records are often found.
Kalamazoo Animal Control is now in the process of sifting through all of the information that was obtained on the two most recent raids.
Lawrence said that he expects that there will be more warrants will following after review of the records is complete.
Steel awaits an extradition hearing in Gwinnett County, Georgia.
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