Livestock farm vandalism case grows cold in Calhoun County
(Nov. 6, 2009) Calhoun County Sheriff Bill Davis says a $10,000 reward offered by the farm and ag community has failed to generate any leads in a well-publicized livestock vandalism case involving hog farms in Calhoun and Sac Counties.
Earlier this year, local law enforcement reported that someone using a high-powered rifle had targeted nearly a dozen liquid propane (LP) tanks located near or adjacent to modern, indoor hog barns. Other LP tanks, including those near grain storage facilities, have not been targeted.
Most tanks fired upon had been pierced. However, in once case, the ammunition ricocheted off the tank and entered an employee room attached to the nearby hog barn. No one was injured in the incident.
Investigators remain concerned by the danger such vandalism poses to life and property and are hopeful that someone with a lead will contact law enforcement.
Anonymous callers with information about the case can contact the Calhoun County Sheriffâ€™s Department at 712-297-7583 or Sac County Sheriffâ€™s Department, 712-662-7127.
(Nov. 17, 2009) A Lyon County farmer has reported a suspected case of livestock vandalism at a hog site he manages near Hull in Sioux County.
Authorities suspect vandals caused the death of 3,800 pigs Nov. 13 after Todd Hasche of Rock Rapids reported controls to an indoor hog barn airflow system had been tampered with, causing the animals to suffocate.
The feeder hogs weighed approximately 55 pounds each. The loss of livestock was estimated at more than $200,000.
Hasche said the alarms and backup generator had been disabled.
â€œWhoever did it had to know their way around a pig barn and they wanted to impose some damage.â€
Hasche manages four hog farms and approximately 12,000 pigs in partnership with Sioux Feed Co. in Sioux Center.
Sioux County Sheriff Dan Altena has served in law enforcement for nearly 30 years and says farm vandalism cases have happened before. However, Hascheâ€™s situation is unique given the scope of the loss and the kind of building vandalized.
â€œWeâ€™re looking at a whole lot of things as we investigate the case including the security system that was breached,â€ he says. â€œItâ€™s tough to get into the system and do what was done so weâ€™re taking that into account.â€
A host of charges face the perpetrator including burglary, criminal mischief and animal cruelty.
The Coalition to Support Iowaâ€™s Farmers has reached out to Sioux County law enforcement officials to assist as needed in the case.
A Minnesota activist who refused to testify earlier this week before a federal grand jury in Davenport is now charged with conspiracy for an act of â€œanimal enterprise terrorismâ€ â€” believed to be a 2004 animal-rights vandalism act at the University of Iowa.
The Quad City Times reports that Scott DeMuth, 22, made his initial appearance on a charge of conspiracy. DeMuth was already in custody for contempt of court because of his refusal to testify. Fellow activist Carrie Feldman, who at one time dated DeMuth, also refused to testify and is in custody..
â€œScott Ryan DeMuth did knowingly and intentionally conspire with persons unknown to the grand jury to commit animal enterprise terrorism and cause economic damage to the animal enterprise in an amount exceeding $10,000,â€ the indictment unsealed Thursday says.
According to the Times, the indictment does not specifically say the charge is in connection to the U of I action. However, the time frame and indication that it was in Johnson County match. Furthermore, federal authorities considered the extensive vandalism an act of terrorism. And DeMuth and Feldman both have said the Nov. 14 vandalism is what federal authorities wanted them to testify about.
The Animal Liberation Front, an underground animal-rights activist group, claimed responsibility for the damage to U of I lab equipment and the release of 88 mice and 313 rats used in psychology department experiments. The break-in was designated as domestic terrorism. Damage was estimated at more than $200,000.