Fred Jacklett, Jr & Laurie McConnell case

Fred Jacklett Jr Laurie McConnell

40 starving animals seized – more than 30 animals found dead

Buel, MI

January 1, 2007

On Monday, January 1st, Sanilac County Sheriff Deputies seized approximately 40 starving animals and buried more than 30 dead animals on a farm on East Marlette Road. Deputies stated that the animals were so starved they were eating their own babies to stay alive.

Sheriff Lt. Jim Wagester stated that Officers found dead and malnourished animals, including a horse, steer, pigs, goats, sheep, rabbits, dogs, ducks, chickens and geese. Some of the animals were in pens and some were in a pasture with no shelter and no food. Many of them were just starving to death - extremely undernourished."

The 21-year-old resident of the farm was arrested on Monday and is expected to face multiple felony animal-cruelty charges at an arraignment on January 2nd or 3rd.  His identify was not disclosed pending arraignment.

The man owns most of the animals, but Police are also seeking warrants to arrest a 40-year-old female resident of the farm. The suspect told Police he recently bought more food after he ran out about two weeks ago but had been too busy to feed the animals. He stated he just got feed during the last few days but hasn't been around to feed them because he's been out partying.

Police initially visited the farm on Sunday after receiving a tip from an anonymous caller. Police seized the animals Monday when executing a search warrant. Police found animals locked in barns and in a muddy pasture with no food. Deputies immediately fed the surviving animals with food they found on the farm.   

Some of the dead animals appeared to have huddled underneath a truck topper for shelter - the only shelter in the pasture, which had mud in some spots that was more than knee deep. Volunteers placed the living animals at area farms, though some of them will likely die.

Brennon Miller of Sandusky drove several animals to a farm in Speaker Township. Miller stated he saw starving animals in barns, in the house and all over the farm. "There were dogs and cats, Iguanas, birds and sheep - every animal humanly imaginable was running around there. The animals looked so desperate and diseased Miller's first reaction was not to touch anything for risk he would pass on an illness to his own animals. Goats and sheep had chunks of hair and wool missing, and several of the pigs roaming outdoors appeared to have eye infections.

Lin Ernest of Speaker Township took ten of the animals. One of the goats could barely stand the animal’s bones can be seen through the sheep's thick wool. The goats' whole entire backbone all the way to their tail is visible.

 Although the animals are in bad shape, it is believed they have the will to live.

    (Photos by DAVE FREDRICKS, special to the Times Herald)

DIRTY JOB: Lt. Jim Wagester tosses dead animals into a front-end loader after they were discovered on a farm in Washington Township in Sanilac County

FOOD AT LAST: A pig gets some feed after deputies converged on a farm where dead and starving animals were found.

CAUGHT: A 21-year-old Washington Township man is arrested Monday after Sanilac County deputies discovered more than 70 animals dead or starving on a Washington Township farm. The man is expected to face multiple felony animal-cruelty charges at an arraignment today or Wednesday.

RESCUE: Neighbors round up animals after deputies discovered dead and starving animals on a farm on East Marlette Road in Washington Township.

SAVING HORSE: Jim Matson of Sanilac County Animal Control walks with a rescued horse Monday on a farm in Washington Township. Deputies buried more than 30 animals and rescued about 40 others on a farm at 3450 E. Marlette Road. A 21-year-old man living at the farm has been charged in the incident.

     (Times Herald photos by MELISSA WAWZYSKO)

FOSTER HOME: Lin Ernest looks away from the pen Tuesday she and her husband, Chuck, are using to keep sheep and goats rescued from a farm in Buel Township. The Ernests will keep several neglected animals until a court determines their fate. More than 30 animals were found dead and another 45 rescued on New Year's Day after an anonymous tip led authorities to the Buel Township farm. The owner of the animals was arrested but will not be arraigned until after an investigation.



        (By MELISSA WAWZYSKO, Times Herald)

OUT ON BOND: A man arrested Monday in an animal-cruelty case speaks Tuesday with sheriff Lt. James Wagester in front of his farm. Officials have not released his name, and he refused to speak with reporters.

     (By MELISSA WAWZYSKO, Times Herald)

INVESTIGATION: Sanilac County sheriff Lt. James Wagester peers into a horse trailer holding some of the rescued swine.



The mistreatment of one animal is outrageous. Cruelty to scores of livestock is unspeakable.

There is no excuse. When Sanilac County Authorities conducted a Monday morning raid at the Buel Township farm of Fred Jacklett, Jr., they were appalled by what they found - 45 malnourished animals and 33 dead animals that needed to be buried.

An anonymous caller tipped off law enforcement. Jacklett's initial explanation to police shows their intervention could not have come soon enough. Sanilac County Sheriff Lt. Jim Wagester stated, "He said he just got feed here the last few days, but hasn't been around to feed them because he's been out partying," Jacklett, 21, is free on bail pending felony animal-cruelty charges.

Lin and Chuck Ernest are caring for some of the rescued sheep and goats at their Speaker Township farm. Gary Wilder is caring for 11 rescued swine at his Lexington Township farm. Four or five other farms also are caring for the neglected animals.

It will take some time to determine whether the animals' deplorable condition resulted from irresponsibility or malice. The criminal justice system eventually should provide the answer.

Sanilac County Animal Control officials have established an assistance fund to help pay for the care of the rescued livestock. 

    (By DAVE FREDRICKS, special to the Times Herald)

RAID SITE: A county worker feeds hay Monday to animals at a Buel Township farm. Authorities found several dead animals and several more starving.


     (Port Huron Times-Herald)


CRUELTY CHARGES: Officers haul a dead animal on New Year's Day from a Buel Township farm.

     (MARK R. RUMMEL, Times Herald)

Charles Ernest looks at a rescued goat Friday on his Speaker Township farm. Ernest and his wife have been taking care of two goats since the New Year's Day discovery of dozens of neglected animals in Buel Township.

    (WENDY TORELLO, Times Herald)

 ARRAIGNED: Fred V. Jacklett Jr., 21, walks through the Sanilac County Courthouse Friday morning.

     (WENDY TORELLO, Times Herald)

IN COURT: Laurie McConnell, 42, heads to her arraignment Friday morning in the Sanilac County Courthouse.

    (WENDY TORELLO, Times Herald)

James Young

     (MARK R. RUMMEL, Times Herald)

SICK ANIMAL: Charles Ernest tries to pick up a goat that is unable to walk at his farm in Speaker Township where he and his wife are taking care of abused and neglected animals from the case in Washington Township.

      (By WENDY TORELLO, Times Herald)

SPECTATORS: About a dozen people enter a courtroom in the Sanilac County Courthouse Friday morning to watch the animal-cruelty arraignments of Fred Jacklett Jr. and Laurie McConnell.

     (WENDY TORELLO, Times Herald)

COURT WATCHERS: Richard Jewett of Hemans talks about how he would like to see those who abuse animals locked up and left without food or water. He and Mary Haskins were watching proceedings Friday morning in Sanilac County Court.


Port Huron Times Herald

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Detroit Free Press

Lansing State Journal


The Bay City Times