5 arrested in connection to mistreatment after 400 animals found in Laurens Co.

Local News

LAURENS COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – The Laurens County Sherriff’s Office said five people were arrested in connection to mistreatment after over 400 animals were found on July 16. The Charleston Animal Society that helped with the case told 7 News, it’s the largest animal cruelty bust in the state’s history.

Laurens County Animal Control responded at approximately 2 p.m. to Hope Road in Gray Court.

According to the sheriff’s office, animal control deputies found multiple malnourished horses without access to water or food.  Many had severely overgrown hooves and their teeth were in poor condition. There were hogs on the property that were underweight with no water or food present. Rabbits, hens, and dogs were also observed to have no access to water. Many roosters were tethered to the ground by leashes with no access to water. A large barrel containing multiple deceased chickens was discovered, as well as dead chickens allowed to decay on top of a cage.

In total, over 400 animals were found on the property, to include 12 horses, 30 dogs, approximately 356 chickens, 4 hogs, 3 piglets, and 8 rabbits.

Deputies said many items on the property led investigators to believe there was a cockfighting operation being conducted.

Robert Milton Kellett III and Tina Messer Hurley, both of the home, were arrested without incident and charged with possession of a stolen vehicle (vehicle stolen out of Simpsonville located on scene), receiving stolen goods (license plate stolen out of Spartanburg located on scene), trafficking in meth, 19 counts of ill treatment of animals, torture and 1 count of ill treatment of animals, overworking.

Kellett was also charged with criminal conspiracy for his involvement in the cockfighting.

Jeffery Justice Dale Williams, of the home, is currently in the custody of Spartanburg County and will be charged with 19 counts of ill treatment of animals, torture, 1 county of ill treatment of animals, overworking and criminal conspiracy.

Heidi Tenille Mathes and Jacky Dean Yopp Jr. of Enoree were arrested and both charged with distribution of meth.

The case was investigated by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office and the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office.

The Charleston Animal Society, Anderson County PAWS, the Humane Society of the United States, and two private citizens provided assistance in removing these animals from this property, evaluating them, and providing necessary care.

“We went to assist in any way we could to bring as many animals to safety as possible,” said Charleston Animal Society President and CEO Joe Elmore, CAWA. “We want to commend the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office and all law enforcement involved who made animal safety a priority in this case.”

Additionally, leaders with Laurens County told 7 News, their shelters are full and they’re calling on the community to help with fostering and adopting. You can find a link to their available pets here:


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