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|Judge(s):||Kenneth E. Deatelhauser, John D. Kessler|
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Thursday, Mar 21, 2013County: Montgomery
Alleged: Earl C. Heitz, III
An injured goat led cops to a Franconia Township residence, where they arrested the homeowner, 52-year-old Earl C. Heitz III, and charged him with 21 counts of animal cruelty and additional weapons charges.
According to the Franconia Township Police Department, officers were dispatched to a home on the 100 block of Forrest Road March 21 after getting a tip from a neighbor that the goat was wandering on the road.
Upon arriving, police said, they found a total of 21 animals -- including dogs, cats, chinchillas, reptiles and goats -- living in squalor both in the yard and inside the house, where animal feces covered the floor. Police alleged they also found four unsecured rifles in the home.
Authorities from the Montgomery County SPCA also responded to the scene, and while they were removing the animals, Heitz returned to the property and was told by officers that the house had been condemned by the Franconia Township Code Enforcement Office and had been posted as such, and that no one was permitted on the property or in the house, according to police.
Later that same afternoon, Franconia Township police were again dispatched to the home after receiving a report of dogs running loose on the property. Police said Heitz, who was inside the house and answered the door when officers arrived, was then taken into custody on charges of misdemeanor criminal trespass and cruelty to animals. Following his arrest, three charges of illegal firearms possession were added, court records show, after a background check revealed a prior felony conviction that precluded Heitz from owning guns, according to police.
Heitz was arraigned before District Judge John D. Kessler of Abington March 21 and remanded to Montgomery County Correctional Facility, where he was released March 22 after posting $50,000 bail.
A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Friday, March 29, before District Judge Kenneth E. Deatelhauser of Souderton.
- Montgomery Media - March 29, 2013
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