Property Owner Arrested in Animal Abuse Probe

December 28, 2006 -- Posted at 4:00 p.m. CST

STRAWBERRY - After the discovery of a farm full of dead and neglected animals, the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department has now arrested 57 year old John Nance on charges of animal cruelty.

This comes just five days after Northeast Arkansans for Animals reported the possible abuse and went to the property with law enforcement.

Upon their arrival they found sights that were beyond belief.  "I was raised on a farm, and I've never seen that many animals all at one time," remarked Captain Jody Dotson of the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department.  "They were just everywhere and starved.  It was pretty pitiful."

We are told they watched the property for several days and then Wednesday Nance showed back up.  "He said he'd been in Texas ans someone was supposed to be watching his property.  He also said he was only supposed to be gone for a few days.  But we knew with the rate of decomposition of the animals they had been there a lot longer thatn what he had said," said Dotson.

What had remained a mystery from the beginning was why there were so many animals to begin with.  Investigators say, "He told us he would go to the sale barns and buy sickly animals and try to nurse then back to health.  He said that's why he had such a high death rate out there," said Dotson.

But for members of Northeast Arkansans for Animals, his arrest comes as good news.  "The arrest is great," said Wannda Davis of NAFA.  "We are very excited the lawrence county sheriff's department and the prosecutor have been so diligent with this."

However, Turner says she is concerned because since the weekend several of the animals have come up missing.  It is unclear at this time whether those animals wandered from the property, or if they were taken, but she is worried about their safety.

"It makes us very concerned.  The conditions of the animals when we found them was bad, and we're afraid they were moved and living in similar conditions," said Turner.

But for now she tells us she is glad he is in jail and hopes he will get some help.

Investigators did tell us this wasn't the first time they had been to Nance's property.  But they say before this it was only minor issues, and nothing compared to what they saw this time.

Nance is set to go before a Lawrence County judge Friday morning for a bond hearing.

We will continue to follow this story and bring you the latest as it becomes available.

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