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Deputies investigate horse deaths, starvation in Monroe County

MONROE COUNTY, Ind.-- The Monroe County Sheriff's office is conducting an investigation into the death of two horses and the starvation of a third surviving horse.

Investigators said the horses were found in their stalls inside a barn last Thursday after a tip led them to a residence in northern Monroe County.  Two horses were found dead at the residence, in different states of decomposition.

Sheriff Brad Swain said one horse found alive was seized. They temporarily named him Jake. Blood work determined Jake's poor condition was caused by starvation and a stool sample showed he had only eaten dirt and wood. Now that it's being fed, Jake is getting healthier.

"There was grazing ability outside the barn, however, they were left to languish within their stalls from what it appears to be. With his background there's no pleading ignorance," Swain said.

Police believe a 62-year-old man who lives on the property takes care of the horses, but it's unclear if he is the owner. The sheriff said he is someone with years of experience in horse training. He made initial claims that the animals were ill, and that he had been consulting with a veterinarian about their condition.

Investigators are working to confirm that information.

While the sheriff said they have concerns of neglect of the horse and possible improper disposal of large animal carcasses, no charges have been filed as investigators keep digging. It will likely not be possible to determine the cause of death for the dead horses.

"We have to be thorough, we have to take emotion out of the investigation and we have to ensure a person's rights are observed and that the investigation is a quality investigation," Swain said.

A state veterinarian will do a body scoring, which will help determine the amount of fat the horses have.

Warning: The photo gallery below contains graphic images.

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