published Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Man arrested after police say he rubbed dead raccoon on neighbor’s property

A North Georgia man accused of using courthouse connections to try to quash a restraining order against him is back in jail, this time for allegedly threatening his Trenton, Ga., neighbor.

The Dade County Sheriff's Office arrested Shannon Wayne Hellard on a simple assault charge around 7 p.m. Sunday after law enforcement said he dragged a dead raccoon across a tree and argued with a neighbor.

The arrest comes three months after Chattooga County Superior Court Judge Brian House granted one of Hellard's ex-girlfriends a restraining order. The woman told House that Hellard pulled her hair, threatened to kill her and said he would also end the life of another one of his ex-girlfriends.

Hellard denied this. He then applied for a "good behavior" warrant (similar to a restraining order) against the woman. Chattooga County Magistrate Tracy Maddox told the woman she needed to be in court with Hellard, even though earlier in the week she received legal protection from him for at least one year.

The woman showed up in a courtroom that was empty besides Hellard, Maddox and two Chattooga County sheriff's deputies. She told Maddox that if she could work out the problems with Hellard, that she would drop the restraining order.

But she didn't remove the order. She later told the Times Free Press that Hellard brags about being Maddox's hunting partner. Her attorney, McCracken Poston, accused Hellard of using a courthouse connection to thwart an order from a judge of a higher court.

Three months later, 44-year-old Kim Van Veldhuizen called the Dade County Sheriff's Office on Sunday to say Hellard had threatened her. The incident at her house at 129 Cherokee Trail began when her 10-year-old son ran inside. He told Van Veldhuizen that Hellard and another man fired rifles on Hellard's property, about 20 yards away. (Hellard told police they actually fired BB guns.) From her window, Van Veldhuizen watched the men beat a wounded raccoon with metal rods until the animal died.

Van Veldhuizen later told investigators that Hellard brought the dead raccoon to a tree in her landlord's yard. Hellard and his friend rubbed the animal's blood against the tree, something some hunters do to train their dogs.

On Tuesday, Van Veldhuizen said she thought about leaving Hellard alone. Ever since he moved in next door with his new girlfriend about a month ago, Hellard and others on Cherokee Trail have been at odds. Sometimes, she said, he parks his truck on the edge of his property line, pops the doors open and blasts heavy metal music. Other times he drives through neighbors' backyards.

And then there are the more serious offenses. Hellard has been incarcerated three times in Georgia, most recently in 2012 for stalking. Once, Van Veldhuizen said, Hellard "went psycho-crazy" when another man asked Hellard to give him back his son's toys.

But on Sunday, Van Veldhuizen felt like she needed to ask Hellard to stop rubbing the raccoon's blood on the tree that's home to her children's tire swing.

"I didn't want the raccoon blood all over the tree where my daughter plays," she said.

Hellard walked toward her and stopped about an inch away, so close that the tip of his nose rested on the bridge of hers. Then, Van Veldhuizen told investigators, Hellard pointed at her, screamed and cursed.

Van Veldhuizen said she walked away, but Hellard then announced that he was going to take this issue up with Van Veldhuizen's landlord. He allegedly said he was going to go to the parking lot of the landlord's church and wait for him to come outside.

When Van Veldhuizen heard this, she called the Sheriff's Office.


Update: Hellard bonded out of the Dade County Jail on Tuesday night on the condition that he would avoid contact with his neighbors.

Hellard gave the Times Free Press a different account of the events that led to his arrest Sunday night. He says he didn't shoot the raccoon, that he found it dead on the side of the road.

"Fresh coon," he says he told himself. "Hey, I can mess with these puppies."

To train his friend's dogs to hunt raccoons, he dragged the dead animal across the yard, leaving tracks. Then, he says he hung it in the tree so that the dogs would associate raccoon tracks with the animal hiding in the tree.

When Van Veldhuizen came outside, Hellard claims he removed the raccoon from the tree. He says they argued for about three minutes, but he never got closer than 4 feet away from her.

Hellard said he and his girlfriend will be moving within the next week.

Contact Staff Writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or at tjett@timesfreepress.com.

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