SCANDIA, Minn. (AP) — A St. Paul woman is mourning the last of her herd of horses after the corpses of her two prize American Saddlebred mares were pulled from a half-dug grave in a cornfield in eastern Minnesota.
Gloria Fritz said a Scandia farmer called her Sunday to say the horses had been shot on Saturday and that he had buried them.
Fritz said she rushed to the farm but called the sheriff's office on the way "because it didn't sound right."
When Fritz arrived, she said the farmer pointed to a stand of trees in the horse paddock between the farmhouse and a paved residential road. She said he told her that's where the horses had been shot by deer hunters.
The farmer was arrested but has not been charged, the St. Paul Pioneer Press (http://bit.ly/1bllji7 ) reported. He was booked into jail Monday on suspicion of damage to property, obscuring an investigation and cruelty to animals, all felonies.
"I thought to myself, 'Nobody in their right mind would shoot an animal that close to a house.' For lots of reasons. And two of them. One maybe by accident, but two? That was intentional," Fritz said Monday during an interview with a Washington County sheriff's deputy, according to the newspaper. "You don't put down two horses by accident."
Fritz said she grew increasingly suspicious when she walked the grounds and saw no blood where the horses were allegedly shot and when she saw fresh hoof marks in the mud in an area away from the horse barn.
On Sunday, the farmer took Fritz and some officers to where he said he buried the horses, Fritz said.
"But the ground was harder than a rock," she said. "If somebody had buried something, it would be freshly dug up, you would think. There would be signs of it. The grass would be down, the ground would be soft."
Fritz posted a frantic message Sunday night on Craigslist, hoping the horses were still alive. But she received a call Monday morning from police who had found the horses — dead — and arrested the farmer.
The horses, ages 17 and 20, were registered American Saddlebreds that Fritz has owned since birth. She said she bred them at her former horse farm in the Stillwater area.
Fritz said the horses were to be moved to a training facility near Chicago by the end of the week.
On Monday, she watched as the horses' corpses were loaded into a truck that was taking them to the University of Minnesota for autopsies.
"I used to have a breeding farm. This is the last of my herd," Fritz said in tears, according to the Pioneer Press. "And this is how it had to end? With two dead horses with bullets in them?"
Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com