Thursday, July 10, 2008


MOREHEAD — Rowan County Sheriff Jack Carter said Wednesday he was still shaken by the scene he encountered the previous day at a horse farm off Ky. 32 east of Morehead.
It was on that farm authorities found the bodies of 31 horses, along with a number of other horses that were still alive but in emaciated condition.

“It was one of the worst things I’ve ever seen,” said Carter, one of the longest-serving sheriffs in Kentucky.“There were buzzards circling the area.”Eleven of the dead horses were in the barn, and 20 more were found in the pasture of the farm, on Kegley Ridge Road, which overlooks Laurel Gorge.

The bodies were in various states of decomposition, Carter said.The animals had chewed holes in the walls of the barn, the sheriff said. The stench, he said, was overwhelming.“I couldn’t stand it,” he said.“I had to come out.”The odor of decomposition still hung heavily in the air near the farm on Wednesday as workers used a bulldozer to dig two mass graves in which to bury the dead horses. Vultures continued to circle the property.

Carter said a number of live horses were found in the barn and in the pasture. Many of the animals were rack-thin and in pitiful shape, he said.“We had eight or 10 that we thought were going to be dead before the end of the day,” he said.

The owner of the farm, Don Miller, told investigators he had been unable to care for his animals because he was critically ill, Carter said.Miller was able to produce receipts showing where he had been spending about $300 a week on feed for his horses, and investigators found grain in the barn, Carter said.

The feed obviously wasn’t getting to the animals, he said.“It was just a case of neglect,” Carter said.“Complete and total.”Under Kentucky law, the worst a person accused of animal neglect can be charged with is a misdemeanor, Carter said.

On Tuesday, the state Department of Agriculture charged the owner, Don Miller, with violating state law regarding the disposition of animal carcasses. The charges carry a fine of up to $500 for a first offense. Subsequent offenses are punishable by fines of $500 to $1,000, up to 30 days in jail, or both.More charges are likely to be filed, investigators said.

"There will be a lot of (charges) in this case,” Carter said, adding that a criminal complaint was filed on Wednesday with the Rowan County Attorney’s Office.

The investigation that led to the discovery of the dead and dying animals was prompted by complaints from the Lewis County chapter of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.Eugene Kinney of the SPCA said Wednesday several people approached him about horses possibly being mistreated on the Miller farm, which prompted him to conduct his own investigation.He said Miller let him on his property voluntarily and allowed him to look around.

Kinney said he reported his findings to the sheriff’s department and to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Division of Animal Health.He confirmed there was feed in the barn. However, Kinney said he saw nothing to indicate the animals had any type of water supply.

Kinney said the living horses had been placed in his care. A veterinarian was brought in to examine the animals, he said.A neighbor of Miller’s, Della Reynolds, told the Lexington Herald-Leader she didn’t notice anything amiss on Miller’s farm until she learned about the investigation from news reports.

Reynolds, who couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday, also told the Herald-Leader Miller had been in poor health since suffering a heart attack a year and a half ago. She also said Miller had raised horses for years and she did not believe he had intentionally neglected his animals.

Case Update:

Police say the owner of an eastern Kentucky farm, his teenage son and a hired hand have been charged in connection with horses found dead and malnourished.The Lexington Herald-Leader reports the three are charged with 21 counts each of misdemeanor animal cruelty in connection with 11 dead horses and 10 in poor health that were found at the Rowan County farm.Authorities have been told that farm owner Don Miller had been critically ill for at least the past year. Detective Gary Lanham of the Rowan County Sheriff's Department says Miller's son was directed to take care of the horses, and Bryan Simpson would take care of them one or two days a week. The son's name hasn't been released because he is a juvenile.An attorney could not be located for Miller or Simpson.Lanham says that according to statements, the teen and Simpson knew of the horses' bad condition, but did not tell Miller.


1 comment:

Wiilde said...

Don L Miller is not only a Horse Murderer & Horse Abuser, Don L Miller is also a Horse Thief! Don L Miller has in his possession, against my will, My mare APHA Strawbarry Chardonnay & Stallion APHA Tardee ThreeBars King. I was married & Pregnant with my first child in 2002. I offered my 2 horses for lease, since I had no farm to keep them on & was beginning to have complications in my pregnancy. Don L Miller offered to keep my 2 horses together on his farm on Kegley Ridge Road & take great care of them and I was welcome to come see my horses anytime I wanted to. Don L Miller agreed to lease them for one year to give me time to take care of my new born & recover from my pregnancy. Don L Miller was to return both horses in the same condition he received them and according to our lease, give me 1/2 of all stud fees off my stallion. When it was time to return my horses, Don L Miller said they needed current coggins & insisted to get them, at my cost, which made a huge ridiculous bill after he also charged me for hauling them to and from his vet. I sent a money order in the exact amount Don L Miller claimed, to pay the ridiculous charges just so I could get my horses back. I showed up on Don L Miller 's property with my lawyer, her truck & trailer to pick up my horses. Don L Miller refused to give me my horses. Don L Miller refused to even let me on the property to SEE my horses. The state police from the Rowan County post came out to Don L Miller 's property, told us to leave & said this was a civil matter. Later that year in 2003, my Lawyer arranged a meeting where I could see my horses, which was the last time I ever physically laid eyes on them. I Took a Video and recorded my horses poor pitiful condition. I am educated in Equine Health. I am a certified Equine Breeding Specialist who studied at the Ohio State University under Dr. Therfall in Columbus Ohio. Both of them were obviously suffering from malnourishment. They both looked very wormy, their hooves were not being maintained, their skin & coat also unbrushed and un maintained. My Mare had a severe split from the coronary band to the toe of her hoof in obvious need of immediate care so that she would not become permanently lame. I reported this animal cruelty immediately to the Rowan County Attorney. Dana Quisinberry refused to file Charges against Don L Miller. I also reported the Animal Cruelty, Animal Abuse & Animal Neglect to the Kentucky State Police at the Rowan County Post, The Rowan County Sheriff, The Rowan County Dog Warden and the Rowan County Attorney repeatedly just to be ignored & mocked by them. I am sure most of the phone calls I made were recorded since they are "legit Government Agencies" and it was after September 11th 2001. Every single County & Government agency in Rowan County allowed My Horses & every horse in Don L Miller 's possession to suffer on Don L Miller 's property! Now 31 horses are dead, but these are just the ones you know about. What about all the other horses that suffered & died in his care that you don't know about. I want all the bones & remains on Don L Miller 's property exhumed & processed for DNA because I can prove if my horses were among the dead by DNA. My Stallion's DNA is listed & Typed with the APHA I want to know also how many of the other horses on his property were Son's & Daughter's of my horses. I have this right & I Demand to know! I am Native American and once again we have been raped by the Government, by the Rowan County Government allowing Don L Miller to take away from me, what is truly mine, my babies, my family, my horses & letting them suffer. My Stallion was my first horse. My bigger sister had a horse we would sometimes share named Shadow, but he was hers. I named my horse Matthew because it means "Gift from God" & he was my best friend. I have endless stories I could tell about him. If I wasn't at School or at Church, I was with him. For years I rode him bareback, because I didn't have a saddle. We rode up & down Fruitville Road & swam in many ponds all around the area. I fell asleep in their stalls or out with them in the pasture sometimes after an exhausting day of horse play. I always told everyone, "You can see how much fun I have by how dirty I get" because more times than not, I'd come home covered in dirt from head to toe. I was their the night my mare was born, I helped clean her off with a towel & love on her. She is an own daughter of the late 16.1HH APHA World Champion Producer Beater Straw & she was born right here in my hometown of Sarasota Florida. I was gonna register her as "Beaters lil Buck" because when she was a baby, we would turn her out & all she wanted to do was run n buck. She was convinced that's what her high hips were for. Boy she could run like the wind too. We ended up calling her "Silly" because she had the sweetest silliest temperament, and she LOVED peppermints. I have lost endless nights of sleep crying & worrying about my babies. I Pray that they both are alive and safe. Honestly I fear the worst.... if they are dead, at least they suffer no more, but I will never be able to play with them ever again, I will never be able to go swimming with them again, I will never be able to brush their beautiful manes or braid their hair.... even now I have to pause writing this because I break down in tears Outside of becoming a mother they gave me the greatest joy of my life. They were both unique & It was an honor to have them both in my life. I am sorry that I failed them when I agreed to lease them to Don L Miller. I wish I would have known... Thank you for taking the time to read our story & letting my horses & I into your life for a moment. I sincerely appreciate your concern, thoughts & prayers. May God Bless you. If anyone can help please let me know. My Horses need justice. They need your voice.


A Broken Mother

Jessica Fawn Mattox

(941) 870-4314