PUTNAM COUNTY, Ind. -- Two horses were attacked and killed in Putnam County. The animals' owners say they are heartbroken and determined to get answers about what happened.
The Putnam County Sheriff's Office tells CBS4 a criminal investigation has been launched.
Karen Phillips said she went out to her field last Monday to feed the family's horses. As she approached a wooded area, she spotted one dead horse. Moments later, she discovered a second horse near the barn.
One horse named "Kat" belonged to Karen's son, Ryan. He spent years training it.
"It's sickening," Ryan said about someone hurting his horse. "They're defenseless."
Phillips said breaking the news to her family was difficult.
"The worst thing I’ve ever done is go wake him up and tell him this horse he’s poured his heart in for three years, you know, she’s gone," Phillips said.
The preliminary necropsy report states the horses suffered fractured ribs and nasal cavities. The pathologist wrote "the lesions in the skull suggest a sharp force traumatic injury..."
"The animals were definitely killed," said Pat McFadden, chief investigator for the Putnam County Sheriff's Office. "The issue with that is I can't be 100 percent sure yet exactly how that happened."
McFadden said the investigation is still in the initial stages. They are working to determine whether this was a random or targeted incident.
"I don’t want anybody else to wake up and find that," said Phillips about the sight of the dead horses on her property.
Her family is now using a GoFundMe page to raise reward money for information leading to the person or people responsible for the horses' deaths. Donations are pouring in and the reward amount is currently more than $3,400.
"I don’t think people who go out and do these types of things to animals like this are not capable of also harming people," Phillips said. "So that concerns me for the community."
Jenna VanRenssealer, 12, had a tight bond with the second horse that was killed.
"It's like a best friend that you never had before," she said about her relationship with the animal.
She says this ordeal has left her with many questions.
"I want to know who actually did it and ask them why they would do it," VanRenssealer said.
If you have any information about who harmed the horses, you're asked to contact the Putnam County Sheriff's Office at 765-653-3211.