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Grant County man accused of pattern of cruelty after emaciated horse found dead

Posted at 4:43 PM, Feb 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-01 16:38:35-05

MARION, Ind. -- A Grant County man is facing allegations of a pattern of mistreating animals on his property – resulting in the death of at least one horse.

Douglas Wolff was charged last week with one felony count of obstruction of justice and four misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.

Investigators were called out to Wolff's property on County Road 500 East in late December on reports of animal cruelty and neglect.

According to a probable cause affidavit released Tuesday, the Grant County Prosecutor's Office is "familiar with this address due to similar calls and complaints regarding this same issue over the past several years."

As part of the investigation, a deceased horse was removed from Wolff's property.

In the affidavit, investigators detail "bizarre" behavior from Wolff.

"Once Mr. Wolff was told there was a search warrant to take the animal for testing to determine the cause of death of the animal, he become very agitated," the affidavit says. "He stated that he normally carries a gun on him and has a permit to do so, however today he did not have one in his possession. Mr. Foustnight [an employee of the city of Marion] indicated that he felt intimidated by Mr. Wolff's comment and was not sure what Mr. Wolff might do next."

Wolff then reportedly got into his backhoe and began operating it "erratically and in in aggressive manner:"

"… [Wolff was] continually banging the bucket down on the horse that was the subject of the seizure. At one point he picked the horse up in the air, flipped the horse in mid-air, dropped the bucket on top of it, and left it there so that it was difficult to move the horse. Mr. Wolff asked Mr. Foustnight if he could use a chain saw and cut the head off the horse. Mr. Foustnight responded to him that he could not and asked why he would want to do that. Mr. Wolff told him he keeps the heads on a fence spear for the skulls to remember them. There have not been any skulls on fence spears observed by anyone present at the property that day."

After the body of the horse was removed, investigators spoke to neighbors of Wolff, who said they had been buying hay and feeding Wolff's animals for a lengthy period of time, as he was not caring for them properly.

During a period in which Wolff's property was monitored from Dec. 28, 2016, to Feb. 15, 2017, the affidavit says Wolff was only observed on the property once – on Feb. 8.

Wolff's neighbors also told investigators he allegedly has a history of killing and burying his animals.

"They told me about the time in 2010 where Mr. Wolff dug a large hole on the property located to the east, killed all seven horses he had at the time, and buried them there all at once," the affidavit says. "They know that he has killed other horses and they have watched some horses literally starve to death. They sent me several photographs of some of the animals. There was one instance where a horse had bones sticking through the back of the hind leg and no treatment whatsoever was done."

At the time they visited his property, investigators found Wolff in possession of least two miniature donkeys, two mules and five horses.

A necropsy performed on the body of the deceased horse taken from Wolff's property determined the animal had "numerous fractures to the right and left ribs and pelvis that were suffered prior to death." The report also says the horse's entire body was emaciated.

Doug Wolff turned himself in to the Grant County Jail on Wednesday at 2:10 p.m. He was booked in and bonded out shortly thereafter on a $20,000 bond.