As nasty breakups go, it's hard to imagine anything more twisted than what Upper Darby police have on their hands.
This lovers' quarrel, authorities say, ended with a series of burglaries, death threats and an 8-month-old Pomeranian's being drowned in a bathtub and prepped for cooking.
"They had been having problems," Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood Sr. said of victim Nafis Aziz and his now ex-boyfriend, John Newman, the alleged dog-killer who is being held at the Delaware County prison on $50,000 bail.
Some would call that an understatement.
On Nov. 1, police responded to Aziz's Long Lane apartment, where they discovered that his laptop had been stolen - again - and found the carcass of his dog, Fox, in the living room surrounded by cooking spices.
"Right on the living-room floor in a frying pan with all types of salts and peppers and oregano around it in different bottles," Chitwood said.
Aziz told cops that while returning from work, he met up with Newman, and that when they arrived home, he saw his dead pet on the floor but could not bear to enter the room.
"It's the worst case I've seen - to take a little puppy and drown it," Chitwood said, referring to local animal-abuse incidents. "He never fried it or cooked it, but it was in the pan."
It was the third time in as many months that Aziz's apartment had been burglarized. Then he began receiving death threats.
Turns out, police say, that Newman was behind all of it - the stolen laptops, the dead dog and the anonymous phone calls to Aziz saying, "I'm gonna shoot you."
Newman, 21, of Wheeler Street near 70th, in Southwest Philadelphia, didn't mention anything to Aziz about his involvement on the night they found the dog, and he denies that he killed it, Chitwood said. Police were able to link him to the crimes through tracing software that had been installed on one of the laptops he allegedly stole from Aziz.
"It certainly was ritualistic, depraved and sick," Chitwood said of the dog-drowning. "Did he put it on fire? No, but it was vicious and vengeful. You could see that whoever did it really, really hated the complainant, to do something like that. He really wanted to hurt the complainant."
Newman, who was arrested Monday, is awaiting a preliminary hearing on charges of theft, receiving stolen property, cruelty to animals, criminal mischief, harassment and making terroristic threats. He has also been charged with burglarizing Aziz's residence in September and October.
On Nov. 16, police called Aziz and asked him to come to the station to discuss the threats he had been receiving. At the time, he was leaving dinner with Newman and when he said they were stopping by the police station, Newman got out of the car and said, "F--- you and your dog," according to the criminal complaint.
Aziz, 25, has since moved out of the apartment and could not be reached by the Daily News yesterday. But Amie Tambado, who owns the African-Caribbean market on the first floor of the building, was flabbergasted to hear that Newman had been charged with the crimes.
She said Newman used to stop in her store for soda or candy and that he and Aziz would often walk Fox around the block in the morning.
"That's him!" Tambado said yesterday, when a reporter showed her Newman's mug shot. Tambado said that she had even told Newman to watch his back after the break-ins were reported - not realizing that he allegedly had committed them.
"I was warning him that he should be careful," she said. "I'm still shocked."
Dottie Dunn, manager of Worldwide Aquarium in Upper Darby, where Aziz bought the cute, reddish-orange puppy, said she was "devastated" to hear the news. "He was gorgeous," she said of Fox. "I love Poms. It had a wonderful personality and it was so sweet."
The case in Upper Darby is the second instance this year in Delaware County of an animal's being brutally killed.
In July, James Jones, of Ridley, was charged with plunging a 30-inch samurai-style sword into the chest of his family dog, Baby.
Jones, 47, pleaded no-contest last month to animal-cruelty and weapons charges and is to be sentenced next month in Media.