Who, age What Where When Last Known Address
Lawrence F. "Bud" Wietholder, 59 Unlawful disposal of dead animals

Camp Point, IL

Adams County

March 7, 2005  
  Neglect of 19 horses - 3 dead

Camp Point, IL

Adams County

March 15, 2005  
  Neglect - 52 horses assessed, 8 horses seized

Greentop, MO

Adair County

July 13, 2006  
Type of Crime Other Crimes #/Type of animal(s) involved
Felony and Misdemeanors 9 convictions for unlawful disposal of dead animals in 11 years, murder 80+ horses

(Photo courtesy of the Quincy Herald-Whig) In July 2006, Wietholder, age 60, was arrested after 8 horses were removed from his Adair County, MO farm and after a citizen made a report alleging Wietholder threatened a neighbor.

This is not Wietholder's first brush with the law over horses.  Wietholder was convicted on March 3, 2006 by an Adams County jury on 2 counts of felony and 1 count of misdemeanor animal abuse.  He faces up to 3 years in prison with sentencing set for August 23, 2006.

Adair County Sheriff Leonard Clark executed a search warrant on a 140-acre farm in Salt River Township that Wietholder bought in January.  An inspection by Carman Skelly, statewide investigator for the Humane Society of Missouri, prompted the removal of the horses.  The horses are being assess further at the Longmeadow Rescue Ranch in Union, MO for health concerns, including sores, sunburn and possible malnutrition.

Wietholder moved his operation from a 900-acre farm south of Camp Point o several farms in Missouri, including one near Brashear in Adair County.  Wietholder reportedly has land near Lewistown, MO as well.

A hearing will take place in 30 days to determine what will happen with the eight horses that were removed.  The remaining 50 horses will remain on Wietholder’s property with a list of recommendations on how they should be treated.  If convicted,

Wietholder faces up to 3 years in prison for felony animal abuse on the latest charges as well as the possibility of having to divest himself of the all his horses.

In March 2005, authorities removed 19 horses from a heard of more than 300, from Wietholder’s Camp Point farm.  The horses were transported for rehabilitation at Schone’s Friendship Farm in Milan.   16 have since been adopted while 3 died.  Judge Bob Hardwick ordered the farmer to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. Wietholder's bond was set at $10,000, meaning he had to post $1,000 for his release when he was arrested.

Both Illinois felony guilty verdicts were for aggravated cruelty to animals involving a horse called Dudley, which had a large growth removed from its hind leg and died 3 weeks after being removed from the farm.  Dudley also suffered from founder, or sore feet.

After a 12 day trial, the jury deliberated for 10 hours and found Wietholder not guilty of 2 counts of aggravated cruelty to an animal, 1 count of misdemeanor cruel treatment, 1 count of violation of owner’s duty and 3 counts of unlawful disposal of dead animals.  Wietholder was found guilty of 2 counts of felony animal abuse and 1 count of violation of owner’s duties involving “Dudley”, a misdemeanor.  He had been facing 10 counts of animal abuse – including 2 felony charges.

Before his March trial, Wietholder had 9 other convictions for unlawful disposal of dead animals in 11 years.  In Adams County in 2004, he was found not guilty of cruelty to animals, but was found guilty of unlawful disposal of a dead animal. He spent 30 days in jail, but was allowed to tend his farm during the day. He was also fined $1,500 and court costs and place on probation for two years. He was also ordered to allow authorities access to his 900-acre livestock farm at any given time.

The Illinois DOA defended its March 15, 2005 decision to impound 19 of Wietholder's horses. HARPS, the Hooved Animal Rescue & Protection Society of Barrington, IL worked with the DOA on the rescue operation. The horses were transferred to Schone's Friendship Farm in rural Milan. 1 buckskin mare had to be euthanized and a bay mare was also put down because the bay's forelegs were badly damaged.

The remaining 16 horses are improving weekly. They'll be stunted, but they will regain their full health, if not their full size stated Ronda Ewing of HARPS. 1 of these horses had a broken jaw.

1 stallion with a red, bulbous growth the size of a football on one leg was transferred to Barrington, that growth was removed by an equine hospital - the cost about $3,000 and required 1 year of post-operative bandaging. The condition is known as Proud Flesh and the charges of cruelty to an animal for this is a Class 4 felony punishable by up to 3 years in prison.

Wietholder and his wife, JoAnn, ran a 900-acre livestock farm near Quincy, IL.

Update 4/17/05:  While the wheels of justice turn slowly in Adams County, Ill., another horse rescued from the farm of Lawrence "Bud" Wietholder has died.

The stallion that had a football-sized growth on one leg died April 10. A bacterial infection had spread through his bloodstream, liver and abdomen, according to a necropsy performed by John Vacek, a veterinarian from Elgin, Ill.

"We are all literally in mourning," said Donna Ewing, the president of the Hooved Animal Rescue and Protection Society, or HARPS, of Barrington, Ill. "This was so unnecessary. He would have been a perfectly healthy horse without the abuse. We had high hopes we could have saved him."

The organization worked with the Illinois Department of Agriculture to impound 19 horses March 15 from Wietholder's farm at Camp Point, Ill. The animals were transferred to Schone's Friendship Farm in rural Milan, Ill.

Now, 17 horses remain after officials euthanized a malnourished buckskin mare. The most severely injured survivor is a bay quarterhorse mare with abscesses on both front feet. "We try to manage her pain, and she has a special deluxe stall with rubber mats on the floor and about a foot of sawdust," said Deb Schone. "It's real cushy and comfy."

Back in Adams County, Assistant State's Attorney Jennifer Cifaldi has filed a request seeking $19,100 from Wietholder to help care for the animals. If that petition is granted, he will have five days to pay the fine or surrender ownership of the horses, she said.

"It's great that people are donating, and we hope people continue to donate, but we believe he should not rely on charity to pay for his animals," she said.

Wietholder is finishing a 30-day jail term in Quincy resulting from 2004 animal abuse charges. He also faces two felony charges and eight misdemeanors stemming from the March 15 incident.

The 17 surviving horses continue to recover, and donations are still coming in. Kent Feeds of Muscatine, Iowa, donated 240 bags of livestock feed. Schone said most of that gift will be held for those who end up adopting the animals if Wietholder's ownership is legally ended.

Donations may be mailed to: HARPS Horse Rescue Fund, BankOrion, 3907 16th St., Moline, IL 61265

Update 10/1/06:  Wietholder, 61 was arrested at his residence by the Schuyler County sheriff and a member of the Missouri State Highway Patrol on murder charges for allegedly drowning his wife.  The body of JoAnn Wietholder, was found on the property.

Earlier this month, Wietholder was given 30 months probation after being convicted of aggravated cruelty to animals in Adams County, IL.  His case is set for review in January.

According to the Schuyler County Sheriff's Department, authorities received a repot that Wietholder had possibly drowned his wife.  He was taken into custody without incident.  A search warrant was executed at his residence and seized some evidence.

Wietholder was being held at the Adair County Detention Center in Kirksville, MO under suicide watch.  His bail is set at $5 million.

  (Photo courtesy of Jackson Groves/The Truman State University Index - Schuyler County Sheriff's Department officers lead Wietholder into the Schuyler County Courthouse for his arraignment)

Update 1/12/07:  On March 15, 2005, 19 horses were removed from the Quincy-area farm of Lawrence Wietholder and his wife, Joann, by the Department of Agriculture. Three horses died after the rescue, including a stallion with a huge growth on his leg, who died after surgery.

In August 2006, Wietholder was found guilty of two counts of felony animal abuse and one misdemeanor charge for extreme neglect of his horses, and sentenced to 30 months of probation and fined $15,500.

Update 12/19/07:  Although a Heartland resident pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter, his legal troubles are not over.

Lawrence “Bud” Wietholder pled guilty to the voluntary manslaughter of his wife, Joanne.  However, Wietholder is facing 8 other felony charges at this time.  All 8 charges are regarding the animal abuse of horses.

Wietholder faces up to 4 years in federal prison for each count of animal abuse.  "The range is up to 32 years in that case... he could actually face more time in prison on animal abuse then he could in regards to voluntary manslaughter," said Mark Williams, Adair County Prosecutor.

Wietholder is set to be sentenced for the death of his wife in February, however; the trial date for the animal abuse is still pending.

Update 3/6/08:  Wietholder, a resident of Greentop, Mo., submitted Alford pleas to criminal charges of voluntary manslaughter Feb. 11 and animal abuse Feb. 15. Even though the Missouri legal system accepts Wietholder's pleas as admittance of guilt, Tim Reuschel, his defense attorney, said he believes his client is innocent.

"I'm still convinced that my client is not guilty," Reuschel said. "I think it's important to note that these were both Alford pleas. ... In an Alford plea, you are saying that I still do not believe that I am not guilty, but I agree that there is evidence against me, so I am accepting the lesser punishment."

Adair County prosecutor Mark Williams charged Wietholder and his wife JoAnn in June 2006 with eight counts of animal abuse, torture and mutilation of a live animal, class D felonies. In September, Schuyler County officials arrested Wietholder, charging him with the murder of his wife. The death certificate of Wietholder's wife read that she died of "homicide by drowning," according to the Oct. 5, 2006, issue of the Index.

The charge was amended to voluntary manslaughter, a class B felony, the same day, according to a court docket sheet.

Voluntary manslaughter, under Missouri Revised Statutes 565.023, occurs when a person "causes the death of another person under circumstances that would constitute murder in the second degree ... except that he caused the death under the influence of sudden passion arising from adequate cause; or (2) knowingly assists another in the commission of self-murder."

The first circumstance is what is mentioned in amended felony information about the charge from Schuyler County.

Reuschel said Wietholder made the right decision in pleading to voluntary manslaughter, a class B felony, even though he thinks Wietholder did not murder his wife.

"I think it's an unfortunate situation," Reuschel said. "... There was evidence against him, but I think what they would have found him guilty [in a trial situation] of is assisted suicide - which also falls under voluntary manslaughter in the state of Missouri. I think he made the right plea."

Williams also said he is satisfied with the outcome of the Wietholder cases. Williams brought charges against Wietholder in the animal abuse case but was not involved with the manslaughter charge because the incident took place across county lines. The case eventually moved from Schuyler County to Linn County on Wietholder's request, according to a court docket sheet.

"Because of the murder charges down there, our case was kind of downplayed," Williams said.  Williams said that although Wietholder initially was charged with eight counts of animal abuse, Reuschel requested that the counts be consolidated into one charge.

"As long as the people who are involved are satisfied, then I'm usually satisfied [with the outcome of the case]," Williams said. "It's a hard question ... [because] this time horses are the identified victims. ... Before I agreed to the plea I had a talk with Carmen Skelly, who was the lead investigator in the case, and she went back and talked to her superiors [at the Humane Society]. ... They said they were OK with it."

Members of the Humane Society of Missouri were unavailable for comment, but Williams said that even with the consolidated charge, Wietholder received the maximum sentence of four years.

Between both crimes, Wietholder has been sentenced to 14 years of jail time but the 10-year sentence overlaps the 4-year sentence entirely, for a total of 10 years. The time also includes a 15-day sentence for an Adair County third-degree assault charge, a class C misdemeanor.

Reuschel said Wietholder will be eligible for parole in the near future.

"The Adair County charges were made to run concurrently with the Schulyer County charges," Reuschel said. "He's sentenced to 10 years total, but he'll serve about four. He'll be eligible for parole as early as two years - the time he's already served counts towards his sentence."

An October 2006 court order from Schuyler County appointed two individuals as Wietholder's guardians and conservators, according to court documents, and in November 2006, the court gave an order for the individuals to sell some of Wietholder's property. In August 2007, Northeast Regional Medical Center filed a claim of almost $23,000 against Wietholder's estate, which was approved in November.

References:

Quincy Herald Whig

KTVO TV3

KHQA 7

The Quad-City Times

WQAD-TV

The Truman State University Index