Police: Man attacked York Haven woman, stabbed her dog

Liz Evans Scolforo

A York Haven woman and her dog are recovering after being attacked in their home during a domestic argument, according to police.

Newberry Township Police Chief John Snyder said Michelle Leister was beaten, choked and cut with a knife by her ex-boyfriend, Jonathan Matthew Hibner, early Friday morning.

Newberry Twp. Police said this 2-year-old pit bull was stabbed by Jonathan Hibner while Hibner was physically attacking the dog's owner.
(Photo courtesy of Newberry Twp. Police)

Hibner also attacked Leister's 2-year-old pit bull, stabbing her in the rear leg, according to charging documents. Police did not know the dog's name on Friday morning, but they said she was taken to the York County SPCA for emergency treatment. An SPCA official confirmed the dog is at their facility, but said she could not immediately release more information about the incident.

Snyder — who described Hibner as a loser — said he's unsure if the dog was stabbed while trying to protect Leister.

He said it's his understanding the dog will survive but needed stitches.

"The officers said the dog is a real sweetheart," Snyder said, despite being injured. "(She) was really nice to them."

Hibner, 33, of 617 Vander Ave. in York City, was arraigned Friday morning on charges of aggravated assault, simple assault, making terroristic threats, animal cruelty, burglary, criminal trespass and harassment. His bail was set at $75,000.

More charges? Snyder said his department will review the initial charges to see whether others should be added, such as Pennsylvania's new strangulation charge.

He explained that officers didn't have a chance to fully interview Leister because she needed to get to the hospital. A friend drove her there and dropped off the dog for treatment, the chief said.

"We'll follow up," he said.

Jonathan Hibner

According to police, Hibner went to Leister's home about 4:45 a.m. Friday and started arguing with her, but she was able to push him out of her house.

"He broke back in, and that's when the assault happened," Snyder said.

Choked, stomped, cut: Hibner grabbed a knife with a 4- to 5-inch-long blade, put it to Leister's face and said, "I'll kill you if you called 911," charging documents allege.

Leister suffered numerous injuries at Hibner's hands, according to the chief.

Hibner slammed her face onto the floor multiple times, choked her hard enough to leave marks on her neck, used a knife to cut her thigh and stomped on her hands — leaving them bruised and bloody, according to Snyder. He also cut off some of her clothing with the knife, according to police.

"There was blood all over the house, and there's a hole in the door where he must have kicked it in," the chief said.

Officers were dispatched to Leister's home after the York County 911 Center received a hang-up call "with a lot of screaming in the background and a female yelling 'don't kill me,'" charging documents state.

Leister ran outside when officers got there, police said.

Spoiling for fight? After Hibner was arrested, he tried to challenge officers to a physical fight, according to police.

"He was telling my officer he wanted the cuffs taken off so ... he could beat him up," Snyder said.

The chief said the attack on Leister and her dog sickened him.

"How do you get to a point where you stab a dog?" he asked. "Or put a knife to someone's face? It's terrible. ... He's a loser."

Domestic-violence experts say some domestic abusers will abuse pets as a way to hurt their human victims.

Snyder said it's unusual in his experience for someone to stab a dog.  More often, he said, a domestic abuser will threaten to harm a victim's pet.

Newberry Township Police on Jan. 27 filed simple assault charges against Hibner and Leister for a domestic incident last month, according to court records.

However, Snyder said his department will be dropping the charges against Leister.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.