Mother, Daughter Face Charges of Animal Cruelty, Neglect, Grand Theft WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES
CITRUS COUNTY – Officials with the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office held a news conference today, regarding the arrest of a mother and daughter charged with animal cruelty.
The following statement was provided to the media:
WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES
On July, 10th, deputies responded to 8424 E. Haines Ct, Floral City, for a well-being check on two women who rented the property. The pair had one of their pets cremated and the cremation company could not get in touch with them to deliver the dog’s remains.
When deputies arrived, no one was home; however, it was obvious that there were many cats and dogs in the residence with no food or water. In addition, a horse was found dead and decaying in a stall along with ten caged rabbits, five of which were dead and the remaining five with no food or water.
Animal control officers went to work to rescue four severely emaciated dogs, thirteen cats and a turtle from inside the home. None of these animals had food or water. Officers also rescued four horses, the five rabbits and eight goats from the property. The horses and goats were surviving on rain water alone.
Deputies also discovered a stolen vehicle and a stolen horse trailer from Arkansas on the property. A tote with a horrible smell was found near the stolen car with the remains of several liquefied dogs inside. Later in the investigation, dead cats were found in garbage bags inside the residence. Neighbors stated that two horses were buried on the property.
Detectives began by trying to locate the people living in the home. This proved to be a difficult task. Investigative information revealed several different aliases for the two women living there, a mother and a daughter, Nancy (74) and Katherine (41) Freeman.
Aliases discovered through investigation: Nancy Lee Freeman (mother), Nancy Frieman, Nancy Nygaard, Nan Speed, Nan Steed, Katherine Joanne Nygaard, Kathleen Lee, Kat Frieman, Lee Freeman, Joanne Speed, Joanne Steed, Joanne Flutterby (used on Facebook) .
Neighbors immediately said that the CCSO might find the Freemans at the Moffitt Cancer Center because Nancy had cancer. Initially, investigators thought the animal abandonment might be a horrible tragedy due to a serious illness, but the investigation revealed much worse — the animals had been abandoned and the duo had committed this type of crime numerous times across the country in Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas and Florida.
“I was contacted by someone in Woodford County, Kentucky, who had fallen prey to these two ladies,” Lora Peckham, supervisor of animal control, said. “The woman told me she had created a private Facebook page for people who had been victimized to discuss what had happened to them and to help find the perpetrators. There were people coming out of the woodwork who had been scammed out of thousands of dollars by the Freemans.”
“This Facebook group became an invaluable resource for me during this investigation,” Dep. Michele Tewell said. “It helped me to really see the severity of this situation and how many people – and animals – this mother/daughter team hurt. They actually used Nancy’s illness as a tool to scam people for over ten years. Having had cancer myself, I was pretty motivated to put a stop to this.”
Thanks to the victim who contacted Peckham and a very dedicated investigative team, Det. Jim McIntyre and Dep. Michele Tewell, both Nancy and Katherine were apprehended in Hillsborough County on Citrus County warrants. They face serious charges of animal cruelty and neglect and grand theft.
Interestingly, animal control officers discovered that one of the surviving horses was actually a retired thoroughbred race horse and a direct descendant of Secretariat and Seattle Slew. None of the animals that were rescued were put to sleep and almost all have been adopted.
“What we have here is a mother/daughter team who scammed people across four states out of thousands of dollars – animals, feed, veterinarian services, supplies, vehicles and more – not to mention the animals that are dead from having been entrusted to them,” said Undersheriff Commander Buddy Grant. “I can’t stress enough the time that went into investigating their wake of destruction and what an outstanding job was done by everyone who was involved.”
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