Case Snapshot
Case ID: 6106
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
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Friday, Apr 1, 2005

County: Muskingum

Disposition: Convicted

Defendant/Suspect: Terry W. Thompson

Case Updates: 2 update(s) available

In April of 2005, a local businessman and livestock owner in Muskingum County charged with one count of having an animal at large, two counts of rendering animal waste and one count of cruelty to animals.

The prosecution laid out its case against Terry Thompson, 56, with the defense expected to offer an explanation for the condition of the animals in question today.

Thompson was arrested in April by Muskingum County deputies for cruelty and torture of cattle and bison he had on his property at 4310 Boggs Road.

Days later a search warrant was executed at the Thompson home at 270 Kopchak Road by sheriff's deputies.

Lt. Steve Welker, of the Muskingum County Sheriff's Office, said the primary targets of the search were the bodies of three cattle which had supposedly died at Thompson's property on Boggs Road and had been moved to the Kopchak property and buried. Welker said the carcasses were found and samples collected were sent to the Ohio Department of Agriculture laboratory in Columbus.

The Muskingum County Prosecutors Office called 13 witnesses to the stand, including two of Thompson's sisters and the director of the Muskingum County Animal Control to testify.

Thompson is accused of depriving them of the necessary sustenance and for impounding or confining them without supplying a sufficient quantity of wholesome food and water. According to reports, Thompson was also repeatedly warned of his cattle and bison escaping the property and wandering the roads and yards of neighbors.

The rendering animal waste charges stem from Thompson transporting animal parts without a license to Phillips Meat Processing, according to Assistant Prosecutor Ron Welch.

On Thursday, Welch said Thompson had been warned at least 30 times in the past year regarding the animals wandering off the property. "The trustees of the township received numerous complaints, the sheriff's office received complaints along with animal control," Welch said. "The director of animal control also received numerous complaints that the animals were starving to death."

Thompson's defense attorney, Charley Hess, of Columbus, said he would be showing the jury that the animals were dying due to raw sewage being a problem on the property, not cruelty or neglect on the part of his client.

"There are several factors that could have caused the animals to lose the weight and become ill," Hess said after the prosecution rested their case. Hess will begin calling his defense witnesses this morning at 9 a.m. and expects to call between five or six, he said.

If convicted on all charges, Thompson could face up to 300 days in jail, a maximum fine of $2,500 and other conditions that the court may deem necessary, Welch said.

November 18, 2005: A jury convicted Terry Thompson of mistreating the cattle and bison he owned.

Thompson, 56, was charged in Muskingum County Court with one count of having an animal at large, two counts of rendering animal waste and one count of cruelty to animals. The verdict came following two days of testimony. The jury sent back a guilty verdict in just under two hours.

Thompson could face up to 300 days in jail, a maximum fine of $2,500 and other conditions the court may deem necessary.

Case Updates

Townspeople cowered indoors Wednesday as deputies with high-powered rifles hunted down and killed lions, bears and dozens of other exotic beasts that escaped from a wild-animal preserve after the owner threw their cages open and committed suicide.

After an all-night hunt, at least 30 of the 48 escaped animals had been gunned down. As of mid-morning, officers were still hunting for a grizzly bear, mountain lion and monkey.

Schools closed, parents were warned to keep children and pets indoors and flashing signs along highways told motorists, "Caution exotic animals" and "Stay in vehicle."

"It's like Noah's ark, like, wrecking right here in Zanesville, Ohio," said Jack Hanna, former director of the Columbus Zoo. "Noah's ark filled with tigers and lions and all leopards and a few monkeys and whatever, and it crashes here and all of a sudden they're out there."

Neighbor Danielle White, whose father's property abuts the Muskingum County Animal Farm, said she didn't see loose animals this time but did in 2006, when a lion escaped.

"It's always been a fear of mine knowing (the owner) had all those animals," she said. "I have kids. I've heard a male lion roar all night."

Officers in the mostly rural area about 55 miles east of Columbus were under orders to shoot to kill for fear that animals hit with tranquilizer darts would run off and hide in the darkness.

The owner of the preserve, Terry Thompson, left the cages open and the fences unsecured, releasing dozens of animals, including lions, tigers, bears and wolves, before committing suicide, said Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz.

Authorities would not say how he killed himself and no suicide note was found. Lutz wouldn't speculate on why he committed suicide. But Thompson had had repeated run-ins with the law, and Lutz said the sheriff's office had received numerous complaints since 2004 about animals at the property.

"This is a bad situation," the sheriff said. "It's been a situation for a long time."

Hanna said that of the three animals believed to be unaccounted for, he was most concerned about the mountain lion, because of its impressive leaping ability. He said anyone confronting these animals should not run, because they will give chase.

Hanna defended the sheriff against criticism that the animals should have been captured alive.

"What was he to do at nighttime with tigers and lions, leopards, going out there?" Hanna said. "In the wild this would be a different situation."

The preserve in Zanesville had lions, tigers, cheetahs, wolves, giraffes, camels and bears. Lutz called the animals "mature, very big, aggressive" but said a caretaker told authorities they had been fed on Monday.
Source: Houston Chronicle - Oct 19, 2011
Update posted on Oct 19, 2011 - 11:31AM 
On December 22, 2005, a judge sentenced a Zanesville businessman and livestock owner to six months of house arrest and fined him $2,870 for his conviction on abuse of animals.

Muskingum County Judge Jay Vinsel also ordered Terry Thompson, 56, to remove the animals he kept at a Boggs Road residence in Perry Township within 20 days.
Vinsel said he allowed Thompson to avoid jail time so he could care for the approximately 100 animals he keeps at his home. The judge said he had received a handful of letters regarding Thompson's sentence, many from friends and family supporting Thompson and some from concerned citizens.

In November 2005, Thompson was convicted on four counts:
One count of having an animal at large, two counts of rendering animal waste without a license, one count of cruelty to animals.

During the sentencing, the judge offered Thompson the choice of spending 90 days in jail with the chance daily to leave and care for his animals, and of spending six months under electronically monitored house arrest. The $2,870 Thompson was ordered to pay includes court costs for the case, or about $1,800. Thompson chose the house arrest, saying it would allow him to continue to work.
"I've learned a lot from this case and I do love my animals," he said. Thompson owns many exotic animals as well as livestock. His case revolved around the accusation that Thompson deprived three cows and a buffalo of necessary sustenance which led to their deaths in early 2005. Thompson also transported animal parts without a license to Phillips Meat Processing. Prosecutors also reported during trial that Thompson had been warned by township officials at least 30 times in the past year to keep his animals from wandering off his property.

Frieda Douthitt, a volunteer at the Zanesville Animal Shelter Society, said she had hoped the judge would use the sentencing to send a message that animal cruelty will not be tolerated. "I'm disappointed that he's still allowed to keep the exotic animals and that the jail time wasn't mandatory," Douthitt said.
Source: Central Ohio News - December 23, 2005
Update posted on Dec 23, 2005 - 11:24PM 


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