MARION COUNTY, Fla. – A horse was found butchered and dismembered at a Summerfield horse farm, according to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies responded to a farm along Southeast 145 Street on May 29 after receiving a report that a horse had been found dead on the property.
When deputies arrived, they met with the owner, Cindy Downs who told deputies she boards and cares for horses at her farm. She told deputies she fed all the horses and checked on them the night prior to the incident and said they were all alive and well.
When Downs returned to the property the next morning, she noticed one horse did not come to eat while she was feeding breakfast, according to a report. She then began looking for the horse and eventually found it dead, butchered and dismembered on the property.
“There was just hide and bones and intestines... it was horrific," said Cindy Downs
The horse that was found butchered was a nine-year-old Quarter Horse named Frosty.
Frosty was staying at the farm temporarily while her owner, Mari Pritchard, prepared their new property but is now devastated at the loss.
“She was my life... she was my kid," said Pritchard. “It was like my whole life ended. Everything stopped and it made me want to vomit.”
Pritchard said Frosty may have been a target because she’s friendly to everyone, but said she never thought something like this would happen to her.
“I don’t have a horse now. So to come here, it’s difficult. Talking about it is hard, but people need to be aware of what’s going on," said Pritchard.
Downs said the horse may have been slaughtered for food.
“My understanding is they sell it on the black market for customer consumption, which is illegal in the United States," said Downs.
Similar incidents of horses being stolen and slaughtered have been reported in Marion County, as well as in Sumter, Manatee and Collier counties.
On Nov. 28, 2019, a 21-year-old horse was found dead and butchered at a farm on SW 16th Avenue, just off the Dunnellon/Belleview exit on Interstate 75.
[READ MORE: Horse found dead in Marion County]
On Dec. 11, 2019, a 10-year-old horse in Sumterville was found dead and dismembered across the street from where she was boarded. The horse’s owner said the fence to her pasture had been cut and evidence at the scene suggested that whoever was responsible was seeking the horse’s meat.
Sumter County Deputies put out a warning at the time encouraging horse owners to be extra vigilant as similar crimes appeared to be on the rise throughout the state.
Another horse was stolen and slaughtered in Manatee County on Dec. 1, 2019. At the time, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office was offering a $13,000 reward for any information in the case.
On Feb. 28, another horse was found slaughtered in Collier County at a Golden Gate Estates pasture.
Deputies said an unknown person entered the pasture sometime between midnight and 5 a.m. and led the horse to a neighboring pasture where they butchered the animal.
Law enforcement did not say if any of the cases are related but said the investigation into the latest horse slaughter is ongoing.
Pritchard said neighbors should stay vigilant and that she will continue to raise awareness about this issue until the people involved are caught.
“I’m not quitting until it’s resolved. Frosty deserves the justice as well as all the other horses that have been slaughtered," said Pritchard.