Forensic Veterinarian Joins South Carolina Abuse Probe

A forensic veterinarian has joined the investigation to multiple alleged incidents of horse abuse in South Carolina.

Melinda D. Merck, DVM, senior director of veterinary forensics for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and a consultant for the Fulton County District Attorney's Office in Atlanta, arrived in Richland County, S.C., on Saturday afternoon to examine the buried bones of horses discovered on property formerly owned by the Trexler family, said Kelly Graham, director of public relations for the Humane Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Richland, S.C.

According to Graham, Merck, who also participated in the federal government's investigation into the Michael Vick dog fighting case, was called in to study the bones of the deceased horses.

"She travels with a mobile forensic CSI unit, and can test the bone marrow to see if the horses died of starvation," Graham said.

The ongoing investigation into the horse abuse case involving Hazelene Trexler, and her sons Terry and James Trexler, expanded last week when a tipster shared information about horses having been on former Trexler property in Sumter County S.C.

"One of our investigators went out with a television crew to investigate 75 acres formerly owned by the Trexlers," Graham said on Friday. "What they found was horse bones in like a mass grave."

No results from Merck's investigation were available on Sunday. However, according to published reports, the probe might expand next week to yet another Trexler-connected property in Lexington County, S.C. As the investigations continue, Hazelene Trexler and her son Terry Trexler, who face similar animal cruelty charges in Georgia, remain in the Richland County Jail. James Trexler is free on a personal recognizance bond.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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