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Saturday, Jul 3, 2004County: Morgan
Case Images: 6 files available
Defendant/Suspect: Paul Adoph Riehl
Case Updates: 7 update(s) available
A Morgan County man has been charged with 17 felony counts under the state's new animal cruelty law. Officers found several dogs and cats starving inside his home. Some already dead.
Police were contacted a a woman for help and stated her husband, 37-year-old Paul Riehl, had doused her in gasoline and was going to set her on fire. When police arrived at the couple's home, they found more than one crime.
Animal rescuers had to break down the front window of the house on Armes Chapel Road to get inside. There, they said they found the worst case they've ever seen. "It was unbelievable."
Morgan County Sheriff Bobby Gibson said officers who came to the home July 3rd weren't ready for what they found. "I've never seen anything as bad as this."
According to the sheriff, officers didn't find the suspect. Instead, they found 12 dogs and five cats, some dead, some starved and eating the smaller animals and aluminum foil to survive.
Plus, Gibson said you couldn't walk through the filth. "The home was from six inches deep to 12 inches deep with dog droppings, all through the home."
Rescuers and a vet removed the animals. They may have been locked in the house for weeks. "It was unlike anything I'd ever seen," said Howard Loftin, with Road Home Animal Rescue. "The vet said it was the worst actual scene that she had ever witnessed."
Paul Riehl was arrested Monday. Officers are still waiting to charge him with aggravated assault for attempting to set his wife on fire. But he has been charged with 17 counts of aggravated animal cruelty. As of July 1st, that's a felony in Tennessee.
Loftin said being able to prosecute that many counts is monumental. "Now I have hope that other counties will do what Morgan County did and say hey, enough is enough," Loftin said. "Animal abuse is animal abuse and there's no more misdemeanors, no more playing around."
The dogs and cats that survived are now being cared for by the Road Home until they're well enough to be adopted.
The Road Home Animal Rescue is in need of donations. To contribute, send funds to the following address. Please make checks out to Road Home Animal Rescue.
Cumberland County Bank
P.O. Box 749
Crossville, TN 38557
|Paul Adolf Riehl was sentenced under a new law making some forms of animal abuse a felony. Riehl will serve six months in jail and two and a half years of probation with more monitoring and more supervision. He cannot ever own a pet again and he's not allowed to have contact with the victims-- his ex-wife and daughter, who were unhappy with the ruling. |
"Make him pay for his wrong doings instead of us paying for it," says Kaylee Riehl, Riehl's daughter.
Prosecutors offered a plea bargain, but hoped for a longer sentence.
"The judge is constrained by the statutes in the law, we'd obviously asked for more time, we'd have liked to see more, but we have to respect the court's decision," explains Senior Assistant District Attorney Frank Harvey.
"I feel like the judge followed the law and did what he had to do," says Riehl's attorney. "It's a tough case... it's been hard on Mr. Riehl... it's been hard on everyone."
District Attorney General Harvey says there are other benefits to the law as well, including options for restitution, which is the next step in the case against Riehl.
|Source: Volunteer TV - Jan 23, 2006|
Update posted on Jan 23, 2006 - 11:44PM
|Paul Riehl is charged with abusing his wife and torturing their 17 dogs and cats. Now he has struck a deal that could keep him from spending another day in jail. |
His wife says he tried to kill her and her story led officers to one of the worst cases of animal abuse ever in Morgan County. Seventeen dogs and cats were starving and living in their own filth, some of them already dead.
Paul Riehl was charged with 17 felony counts of aggravated animal abuse, as well as aggravated assault of his wife.
His now ex-wife recently found out that despite those charges, Riehl may not go to jail. 10 News sat down for an exclusive interview with Riehl's ex-wife, who is still in hiding.
"He threw gasoline on me and himself, dropped the gasoline container and tried to light a lighter. He struck it three times and it didn't light, only by the grace of God," said Riehl's ex-wife.
She's describing the day she and her daughter left Riehl for the last time. But she could not take their 17 dogs and cats. She thought they would be safe, but she was wrong.
"We were all innocent victims, but all our family pets ever did was love him, and they were tortured," said the former Mrs. Riehl.
Paul Riehl was charged in July, 2004 with assaulting his wife and 17 counts of aggravated animal abuse. Since then, his ex-wife has been hiding.
"Every day you pray he's not going to find you, and you want the system to hurry and let it be done as a chapter," said Riehl's ex-wife.
But now it may never be done. Last week Riehl struck a deal with District Attorney General Scott McCluen's office in which he serves only three years. There are no fines, and nine of the counts of animal abuse are dropped. But he might not even have to do that.
Riehl applied for judicial diversion, and if the judge grants it, he may not go to jail at all.
"He may not serve one day behind bars, and yet every day were trying to build our lives in fear," said Riehl's ex-wife.
She says she was shocked and outraged at the deal, and it has dashed any hopes she had of justice.
"I really wanted to be able to get my daughter through high school without her having to look over her shoulder wondering if he's going to show up," she said.
The Assistant District Attorney handling this case says he cannot comment on the plea agreement until after the case is over, after Riehl's sentencing in January.
As for the animal victims in this case, three of them had to be put down because of neurological damage from the abuse. The rest of them are doing well.
|Source: WBIR - Nov 5, 2005|
Update posted on Nov 27, 2005 - 11:09AM
|Paul Riehl's court date has been reset for October 2005. He remains out on bail.|
|Update posted on Jun 24, 2005 - 10:17PM |
|Paul Riehl was indicted Tuesday with 17 counts of aggravated cruelty to animals and one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, said Morgan County circuit court clerk Rachel Smith.|
|Source: KnoxNews - Jan 21, 2005|
Update posted on Jan 22, 2005 - 10:12PM
|Paul Riehl will be going in front of the Grand Jury in Morgan County, Tennessee on January 18th, 2005. The animal rescue teams and the veterinarian have not been invited to attend. They are however allowing the reserve officers who filed the initial complaint after being presented with evidence by Road Home Animal Rescue to attend though the reserve officers were not present during the actual rescue. Road Home Animal Rescue has asked to attend to convey the graphic and sickening details of this case but the DA feels this is not necessary. |
The alleged abuser is still at large in the community and most recently made threats to a teenage girl who knows his daughter at a school function. This was reported to the Morgan County Sheriff's Department and we were informed by them that he was no longer allowed to attend this type of function.
|Update posted on Dec 29, 2004 - 5:33AM |
|Paul Riehl's bond was reduced to 20,000.00 during the preliminary hearing and he is now out on bond.|
|Update posted on Sep 24, 2004 - 9:23AM |
|A preliminary hearing for Paul Riehl, a man charged with 17 counts of animal cruelty and attempting to set his wife on fire has been set for Sept. 9 at 8:30 a.m. |
Defendant Paul Riehl remained in jail Friday, August 27, 2004, under bonds totaling $44,000. On Thursday, August 26, 2004, Sessions Court Judge Mike Davis denied a motion to reduce his bond. Riehl is charged with felony animal abuse and aggravated assault.
Morgan County authorities, investigating an animal abuse complaint, found 17 cats and dogs at Riehl's home on July 3. Authorities said that it appeared that none of the animals had been fed since June 20, the date that Riehl is alleged to have attempted to set fire to his wife.
Update posted on Aug 28, 2004 - 5:55PM
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