Rebecca Keith was one of three women arrested and charged after a large number of dead animals were found at a Laurens County home.
Amanda Keith was one of three women arrested and charged after a large number of dead animals were found at a Laurens County home.
Sara Keith was one of three women arrested and charged after a large number of dead animals were found at a Laurens County home.
A large number of dead animals were found at a Laurens County home Thursday.
A mother and her two daughters were arrested and charged after a gruesome discovery at a Laurens County home.
Laurens County Sheriff's Office officials stated that Rebecca Keith, 58, of Laurens, and her daughters, Amanda Keith, 33, and Sara Keith, 31, also of Laurens, were arrested and charged with ill treatment of animals and failure to bury animals properly.
According to a Lieutenant Judy Stiles of the sheriff's office, deputies went to the home on Love Joy Lane on Thursday and discovered over 80 dead animals in the home and on the property. Some of the animals, which were from a variety of species that included dogs, cats, birds and even baby deer, were found wrapped in plastic in a refrigerator, freezer and other areas throughout the home and property.
According to Stiles, some of the animals had been dead since last October, when the women moved into the rental home. Several dogs were found running around on the property, and a pair of horses were found in poor condition and transported to a local rescue farm.
The owner of the property, Jason English, told 7 On Your Side photojournalist Jessica Winfrey, that deputies had gone to the home to serve an eviction notice on the women when they smelled a foul odor. He described the scene at the home as a "nightmare."
"My nightmares have nightmares about what we saw," English said.
English took Winfrey on a look throughout the home and yard and what she found was horrendous. There were dead animals in trash bags, a cat's carcass visible in a refrigerator with other plastic bags and food items, feces were strewn across the bathroom, flies and maggots and inhabited the freezer and the carcasses of other animals were still in pots and bowls in the yard.
Winfrey spoke exclusively with the Keith's about the discovery. They said the animals were like family and disputed the number of animals found. They said that there were only 20.
"I guess you could say they're like family," Amanda Keith said. "We didn't want to leave them behind. We've already had to leave so many behind."
Keith stated to 7 On Your Side that a veterinarian had told them it was okay to keep the animals in the freezer. However, the power had been cut to the home for a long time, English said.
7 On Your Side has learned that this was not the first incident involving the Keith's and reports of animal cruelty.
Animal control officers say Rebecca & Amanda Keith were both convicted on charges on ill treatment of animals in June of 1998. The charges stemmed from the discovery of three horses found on the property. One was dead. A second was removed from the property and later died. The third horse survived, but was very sickly and malnourished.
Despite those charges, English stated he performed a criminal background history against the women and it did not reveal any problems.
All three women have been released from the Johnson Detention Center on $5,000 bond and had collected their belongings from the home. English said that due to the county laws he is now responsible for the cleanup to the home.
7 On Your Side's Christine Scarpelli spoke to Laurens County Sheriff Ricky Chastain about the county's animal cruelty laws and he referred her to South Carolina State laws which state that you must properly feed, house and bury animals.