400 mistreated animals found on SC property that hosted cockfighting ring, deputies say

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GRAY COURT, S.C. (WSPA) – The discovery of more than 400 mistreated animals led to the arrest of five people on charges ranging from torturing animals to trafficking in methamphetamine, the Lauren’s County Sheriff’s Office said.

Laurens County Animal Control responded at approximately 2 p.m. on July 16 to Hope Road in Gray Court, which is southeast of Greenville.

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, more than 400 animals were found on the property, including 12 horses, 30 dogs, approximately 356 chickens, four hogs, three piglets, and eight 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 at the scene), receiving stolen goods (license plate stolen out of Spartanburg located at the scene), trafficking in methamphetamine, 19 counts of ill-treatment of animals, torture and one 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, one count 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 methamphetamine.

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.

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