Veterinarian takes in rescued dogs of missing Hollywood woman

Veterinarian takes in rescued dogs of missing Hollywood woman

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A suspect was named Wednesday in connection with a murder in Bluffton and he has a long criminal history.

Bluffton police also released new information on what connects the case with the search for Julia Mudgett out of Hollywood.

They say Mudgett's car was seen near Buck Island Road just before Polly Ann Mitchell of Bluffton was found murdered in her home on that same road.

Jerry Lee Manigault was arrested in that same area the day Mitchell's body was discovered. 

He's being held in the Charleston County jail right now.

Manigault was arrested two days ago by US Marshals for not re-registering as a sex offender.

Records show he was convicted in 1997 for kidnapping a 20 year-old woman.

Mudgett is still missing and Wednesday her vet, who has custody of her three dogs said he's convinced one of them saw something that still has the dog stressed out.

"Cricket is the chow mix," said Veterinarian Dr. Thomas Hentges.

Cricket is one of three rescued dogs now living at the Animal Medical West clinic.

"Mrs. Mudgett found him on the curb where she lived out there in Hollywood," said Hentges.

Mudgett is an animal lover with a long history at the clinic.

Hentges said, "Since 1986, we go back almost 28 years together."

Hentges has always treated the animals Mudgett rescued and taken in as her own.

Ginger and Lucky are the other two dogs he started taking care of after Mudgett disappeared.  

"Lucky is a border collie mix and border collies are known to be one of the most intelligent breeds," said Hentges.

Hentges says Lucky has taken it the hardest since Mudgett disappeared from her home more than a week ago.

"Dogs apparently communicate with images and he has an image burned in his brain that I wish I could read," said Hentges.

Mudgett relies on an oxygen tank that was left behind in her home. Hentges says she can't survive without it.

"I'm at peace with the fact that she probably has passed away. She was an angel that walked on the earth and the world will miss her greatly," said Hentges.

Hentges made a promise to Mudgett that he would take care of her dogs if anything ever happened to her.

"The pack member, Mrs. Mudgett in this case and when she was taken from the equation these dogs were completely at a loss for that period of time."

Hentges says he just wants the answer to his biggest question.

"Why Mrs. Mudgett? Why someone who was so pure and so kind to everybody? Who could take advantage of her," said Hentges.

Manigault has been charged before with murder, kidnapping and rape before.

There will be a vigil Wednesday for Mudgett at 8pm at the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in West Ashley.

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