Entries in Zanesville (6)


Ohio Woman Found Burned with Rope Around Her Neck in Road Dies

WSYX/ABC News(ZANESVILLE, Ohio) -- An Ohio woman who was tortured in a wooded area and left abandoned near a remote road has died after being in critical condition for two days, officials said.

The 29-year-old woman from Canton was discovered naked Sunday morning by a passing motorist on a Zanesville, Ohio, road with a rope around her neck and severe burns.

ABC News is not publishing the woman's name at this time since she was the victim of a rape.

"I have a woman right here. She's burned severely, she's been raped and she's been beat up," the distressed man told police in his 911 call. "She's got a rope around her neck, she's totally without clothes and she's severely burned."

The motorist told dispatchers that he had the woman lying in the grass and pleaded for them to send medics right away.

The woman could be heard in the background moaning in pain.

Despite the excruciating pain, authorities say, she was still able to talk to the motorist, medics and police about what happened.

"Obviously, when you put assault, rape and burn in the same sentence, it's very brutal," Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz said at a news conference Monday, according to ABC News Columbus affiliate WSYX-TV.

The woman was transported by air to the burn unit at Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University in Columbus. She suffered fourth-degree burns, as deep as the muscle and bone, as well as other injuries.

"This is one of the most gruesome things I've ever seen in 23 and a half years in law enforcement, as well as some of our detectives," Lutz said. "I can't imagine the pain this lady went through."

Officers discovered a crime scene in the wooded area near the road, but would not discuss what they found.

"This was not a random act," Lutz said. "There was a vehicle that we were looking for that interested us. We found that last night in the Canton area. There are some people of interest to us that we are currently looking for."

Although police say they have multiple persons of interest, no arrests have been made. An autopsy will be conducted as the investigation continues, authorities said.

"Our investigators are still working heavily in the northeast part of the state with the authorities up here on running down leads," Capt. Jeff LeCocq of the Muskingum County Sheriff's Office said Tuesday, "and the investigation is ongoing."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Animal Preserve Owner's Wife Wants Surviving Animals Back

Jay LaPrete/Getty Images(ZANESVILLE, Ohio) -- Terry Thompson, the Zanesville man who set his exotic animals loose before killing himself, owed almost $70,000 in unpaid taxes to the IRS and the county.

Dozens of animals, including Bengal tigers, lions, wolves, monkeys and bears were freed from the Zanesville, Ohio animal preserve and had to be killed by police. Police stalked the animals through the night Tuesday, and by Wednesday afternoon, 49 of the 50 animals were confirmed dead, ending a potentially catastrophic threat to people in the area.

Three leopards, a grizzly bear and two Macaques were the only animals that survived, and they are at the Columbus Zoo, receiving around the clock care. According to zoo officials, the animals are "stressed," but eating, drinking, and playing with ball toys.

Thompson's wife, Marian Thompson, visited the surviving animals, which she called "her children," on Thursday and desperately pleaded for their return.

"This is a person that's very bonded to the animals," said Tom Stalf, a zoo official who helped transport surviving animals to zoo. "She wanted to see them and make sure that they were doing OK, and she missed them."

Though she wants the surviving animals to be returned to her, zoo officials said they will continue to care for the animals, and leave it up to the sheriff's department to decide if the animals will go home, to another facility, or remain at the zoo.

Marian Thompson told a zoo official that she is especially bonded with the surviving pair of primates. She revealed to Stalf that when she was still living at the farm the surviving female Macaque would sleep with her.

According to police, just seconds after Thompson set his beloved animals free and shot himself with a handgun, an animal bit him in the head, and likely dragged him along the driveway where he was eventually found.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Exotic Animal Carcasses Hunted by Exploiters Seeking Trophies

A barn stands on the property from where exotic animals escaped a wildlife preserve in Zanesville, Ohio. Photo by Jay LaPrete/Getty Images(ZANESVILLE, Ohio) -- People hoping to profit from the death of nearly 50 exotic animals that escaped from a farm in Zanesville, Ohio, after the preserve owner shot and killed himself have been contacting the sheriff's office, interested in taking the animals to a taxidermist.

"We've gotten calls and e-mails about what [is] going to happen to the animals...could they be obtained for these types of things," said Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz. "There's a lot of people who would pay a lot of money to get these animals."

But Lutz is cracking down.

The location of the 49 animals buried on the property has not been disclosed, Lutz said, adding, "Anybody caught on that property looking for it will be charged with criminal trespassing."

Earlier this week officers stopped a group of people from stealing the dead body of a lion.

"They were taken into custody," Lutz said.

Marion Thompson, the widow of farm owner Terry Thompson -- Terry was found dead in the driveway after shooting himself and setting his animals free -- is now manning the property, watching out for thieves.

"Hopefully nobody would be that morbid that they will want to go to do that," said Lutz. "I can guarantee you one thing, if it does happen we will pursue them to the greatest length to charge them."

Thompson's wife, he said, is "very distraught" about the loss of her husband and animals, many of which "were like kids to her," Lutz said. "She probably spent more time with these animals than some parents do spend with their kids."

Officers avoided a potentially catastrophic disaster, using pistols and high-powered rifles to take down nearly 50 of the dangerous animals. Only one animal remains unaccounted for -- a macaque monkey that Lutz says was probably eaten by a large cat.

It's unclear where preserve owner Terry Thompson found his menagerie of exotics.

"I've heard that some were rescues," Lutz said. "I've heard that some were bought at auction."

Officers didn't find any evidence that Thompson had been trying to breed them.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Officials Call Off Hunt for Wild Animals in Zanesville, Ohio

Fred Polks, Jr.(ZANESVILLE, Ohio) -- The hunt for dozens of exotic animals that escaped from a private preserve and put an Ohio town on lockdown has been called off, after officials said they are confident that the final missing monkey was eaten by another escaped animal.

A total of 49 wild animals were gunned down by police with pistols and high-powered rifles in Zanesville, Ohio Tuesday, after its thought the animals' owner set them free before his suicide. The animals were moving into nearby neighborhoods, forcing residents of the town of 25,000 to stay indoors.

The county sheriff said the final missing animal, a monkey that may have had a herpes virus, had likely been killed and eaten by one of the escaped cats.

"We still are considering the monkey unaccounted for.  There is a possibility it would be loose, however we've had no reports from the public of see anything," Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz told ABC's Good Morning America Thursday.

"Considering this, it's a high probability that it was killed by one of the big cats.  We had another that was killed by one of the cats, and this other monkey was in the same area," Lutz said.

The director of the Columbus Zoo recommended that the escaped monkey be shot and killed on sight because it could carry Herpes B, according to the sheriff.

The 49 animals that were slaughtered between Tuesday and Wednesday included 18 Bengal tigers, 17 lions, six black bears, a pair of grizzly bears, three mountain lions, two wolves and a baboon.  The dead animals will be buried on the preserve, officials said.

The six surviving animals are currently at the Columbus Zoo where they are getting around the clock care.

The animals escaped from the 73-acre preserve owned by Terry Thompson, who had killed himself, according to Lutz.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Jack Hanna: Animal Killings Were Necessary to Avoid 'Carnage' in Ohio

ABC News(ZANESVILLE, Ohio) -- There was no choice but to kill 49 animals -- including tigers, lions and bears -- that were released from their enclosures in Zanesville, Ohio, wildlife expert Jack Hanna told ABC News’ Diane Sawyer.

“I’m sorry to say, but what the sheriff did had to be done,” Hanna said.  “Otherwise, we would have had carnage out here in Zanesville, Ohio."

“Tragedy-wise for me,” he added, “[it's] probably the worst thing in 45 years of history of working with animals. … I’ve seen poachers kill in the wild.  I’ve seen animals killed right in front of me with their horns cut off.  I’ve seen a lot of things happen in my career, but nothing like this have I ever witnessed.”

Hanna said tranquilizing wild animals is not as easy as many people believe.

“I’ve been out all over the world tranquilizing animals,” he said.  “Can you imagine trying to tranquilize an animal in the dark.  Fine, we have a spotlight.  We hit it.  You don’t know exactly: Did you hit a muscle?  Did you hit a bone?  If you hit the bone, the plunger might not work and put the medicine in.  So what do we do?  Then we send a veterinarian or the sheriff up there to see if the animal is down, right?  What’s gonna happen if the animal is just sitting there not even asleep?  You’re dead.”

Hanna told Sawyer that when the wife of Terry Thompson, the man who released the animals and then committed suicide, arrived on the scene, she was shaking and angry.

“She said she was coming to rip me apart because I was taking her animals,” said Hanna, who is helping move the remaining animals to the Columbus Zoo in Powell, Ohio.  “When she came in there, she was totally not -- just nothing was left.  Her husband had just committed suicide. … She has 30-something animals laying there in her driveway that are gone. … She was shivering.  I hugged her.  I started crying with her."

“I could have yelled at her -- you know … to lose 18 Bengal tigers in the world today is beyond a tragic loss,” Hanna said.  “I can’t describe what that does to me, along with all the other creatures.  But when you see a woman that’s lost everything, what do you do?  Do I sit there and yell at her? … I sit there and console her and tell her I’m going to try to help her with her animals that’s left, which is nothing, basically.  That’s all I could do.”

Sawyer asked Hanna how long the event would stay with him.

“It’s going to haunt me for the rest of my life,” Hanna said.  “What happened here [Tuesday] night had to be done or else we would have had some major losses of human life here this morning.  And I won’t forget what happened here today as long as I ever live.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Wild Animals Loose in Ohio: Town Under Lockdown

Fred Polks, Jr.UPDATE: The only animal believed to still be at large is a monkey, Zanesville police said Wednesday.

(ZANESVILLE, Ohio) --  A grizzly bear, mountain lion and a monkey are still on the loose in Ohio after authorities hunted down as many as 51 ferocious animals that were set free by the owner of an animal preserve before he killed himself.

Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz told reporters he can't be 100 percent sure that those three animals are the only ones unaccounted for.

Lutz and ABC News' wildlife expert Jack Hanna, who will take the living animals at the preserve to the Columbus Zoo, urged the public to remain cautious.

"If you see these animals you do not run," said Hanna, who added he is most concerned about the mountain lion, since those animals have "great leaping ability."

The sheriff said that when his men arrived at the animal preserve in Zanesville, they found bears, lions, Bengal tigers, black bears, and leopards roaming the area. Since it was about to get dark, he feared the animals would escape into the night.

He said his deputies had to kill animals at close range with their sidearms. One animal that got away was hit by a car on a highway some distance away, he said.

The animals' cages were opened up by Terry Thompson, who owned an animal preserve in Zanesville. Thompson killed himself after freeing his menagerie, Lutz said.

Hanna and his vets visited the farm Wednesday, calling conditions deplorable.

The man who is believed to have set the animals free, Thompson, 61, was recently released from prison after serving one year on federal weapons charges. According to investigators he has been cited in the past for animal abuse and neglect.

Lutz said at a news conference that residents should stay inside until the animals, which escaped around 6 p.m. Tuesday, are rounded up. Several schools across the area have cancelled classes for Wednesday.

Police, who have been ordered to shoot to kill, describe the loose animals as "mature, very big and aggressive."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio