HERMITAGE, Pa. (WKBN) – The man accused of killing a woman in Hermitage is also charged with hitting her cat in the head before the murder, according to Hermitage Police.
Police Chief Eric Jewell said Dustin Nichols told investigators he took a hit of acid around midnight, which he said caused him to kill 18-year-old Olivia Gonzalez. He called 911 Monday morning to report shooting the woman and surrendered to officers when they arrived at the couple’s home on Fairlawn Drive.
Officers found Gonzalez dead inside with gunshot wounds.
Police said Gonzalez and Nichols were arguing prior to the shooting. Nichols admitted to hitting the cat, which was found by detectives at the crime scene and taken to a veterinary facility for treatment.
The cat suffered blunt force trauma to the head and may lose an eye, police said. It will be released to the victim’s parents. They told police that Gonzalez cared deeply for the cat.
Nichols is charged with first- and third-degree murder and cruelty to animals. He is being held in Mercer County Jail without bond after his arraignment on Monday night.
Nichols is set to appear in court again for a preliminary hearing at 10 a.m. February 16.
“We are committed to getting justice for Olivia,” Chief Jewell said.