Marion County

'The most horrific sight I’ve ever seen’: Stolen horse found dismembered, butchered in Marion County

MARION COUNTY, Fla. — A horse that was being boarded in Summerfield was found dismembered and butchered late last month, according to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies on May 29 responded to the scene and met with Cindy Downs, the property owner who boards other people’s horses. She said that, after feeding the horses, she left the property, and all the horses were alive and well, according to deputies.

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When she returned the next day to feed the horses she noticed one of the horses named Frosty, a 7-year-old female quarter horse, was missing. The owner looked for the horse and found it dismembered and butchered, then contacted the agency, according to deputies.

“I realized she had been butchered and dismembered and meat was taken from her bones," Downs said. “The sight of the animal was the most horrific sight I’ve ever seen."

Mari Pritchard, Frosty’s owner, was notified. Frosty was valued at $2,000, according to the incident report.

No suspect information was immediately available. Investigators say they believe horses are slaughtered because the meat is valuable on the black market and is illegal to sell in the U.S.

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This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. Around Thanksgiving, a horse was taken and found butchered in Marion County.

In early December, video shows a man lurking around a farm in Manatee County, where he allegedly stole a horse.

A few days later, Sumter County deputies said a horse was stolen and its body was located in nearby woods.

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Deputies said they are in the early stages of the investigation and, so far, they don’t know if it is connected to the similar cases previously reported.

Pritchard had some advice for other horse owners.

“Keep them off the road and closer to the house. Get a dog and light up your property so they can see it from space,” she said. “Do whatever you can to keep them safe.”

Read: ‘Be very vigilant’: Three horses in Central Florida stolen, slaughtered, deputies say

Myrt Price

Myrt Price,

Myrt Price joined the eyewitness news team as a general assignment reporter in October of 2012.

Adam Poulisse,

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.