Forensic Study Reveals Some Trexler Horses Starved to Death

Three horses exhumed from Richland, S.C., properties once belonging to the Trexler family died from starvation, according to a preliminary report issued by Melinda D. Merck, DVM, senior director of veterinary forensics for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Exhumed remains

Investigators exhumed the remains of several horses.

The report, released Aug. 14 by the Humane Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Richland, indicates that the bones of three horses--among several exhumed from the property--show a level of bone marrow fat indicative of starvation.

"When bone marrow fat is low, it indicates the animal died of end-stage starvation," Merck explained in the report.

The findings were derived from analysis of marrow drawn from leg bones of three different horses exhumed by Merck and analyzed by Michigan State University's Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health.

Merck collected the bones and other samples last March at the request of the Humane Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (HSPCA) during its investigation into horse cruelty allegations involving James Trexler and Terry Trexler and their mother Hazelene Trexler. All three have since been charged with multiple counts of misdemeanor and felony animal cruelty.

"We were only able get three samples that were deep enough into the ground to have preserved bone marrow, but I would speculate that the other exhumed horses probably faced the same fate," said Kelly Graham, HSPCA director of public relations. The Trexlers are scheduled to appear in Richland County District Court on Aug. 15 for a preliminary hearing on the misdemeanor charges.

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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