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February 21--  Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight is charging a local educator with cruelty to animals.

The sheriff reports the charges were filed after investigators found two dead dogs in the yard of Dr. Henry Hankerson at 471 Bostwick Circle just south of Vidalia.

20180221 HankersonHenryLeslie"We got a call from some neighbors and went to investigate and found a dog that was deceased in the yard.  We did find one that was in a bag that we didn't find the first time.  We went back and did some more looking around and that dog had been dead for some time.  The other dog was decomposed and swollen.  It was on a chain and there was no food there.  Water was in the bowls but it looked like rain water," Sheriff Kight said.

Dr. Hankerson was the assistant principal at J.R. Trippe Middle School in Vidalia until the end of the 2016 school term when he became the assistant principal and athletic director at Baldwin County High School in Milledgeville.

Investigators report Dr. Hankerson's mother stayed at the house in his absence and is also a person of interest in the case.

Sheriff Kight says the investigation is continuing, "Right now he's charged with a misdemeanor, but that could change to a felony.  We're getting all of the evidence together and talking to folks and then we'll sit down and talk with the District Attorney about it and go from there.  You know not feeding a dog is one thing, but when  a dog dies from not being fed, malnutrition, that's more severe and is cruelty," he said.

The sheriff said Dr. Hankerson has refused to comment to investigators regarding the case.  He's been released on a $5,000 bond.