Crime Watch 8

4 arrested after reports of animal abuse, 'stench' from house with kids

GNAW BONE, Ind. (Brown County Democrat) - Four people have been arrested after police responded to a report of animal cruelty, then reportedly found drugs in the home of the dog’s owner.

Sheriff Scott Southerland became involved after an off-duty deputy at Gnaw Bone Coffee on April 25 found a stray dog in the parking lot. The deputy had called the number on the tag, and the owner — later identified as Amber S. Breedlove, 18 — sent Austin H. Gess, 18, to pick up the dog.

The deputy had a leash on the dog and offered it to Gess to use, but Gess unsnapped the leash and started leading the dog away by the collar, the affidavit states. Gess then picked up the dog and put it across his shoulder, with the dog upside down and lying on its spine. The dog was squirming and visibly uncomfortable, the police report said.

When the deputy offered a leash again, Gess threw the dog off his shoulders and slammed the dog to the ground, causing it to yelp, the report said.

Southerland got a search warrant and went to the home on Deer Trails where Gess and the dog were staying. Homeowner Nicholas A. Hardin, 33, and renter Shawn T. O’Neill, 33, were there, along with Gess and Breedlove.

There were two other dogs and one cat in the home. The stench from feces and dog urine throughout the house was “severe,” the police report said.

The Indiana Department of Child Services responded to the home because of the living conditions. The police report did not note how many children were living there or how old they are, but two small, child-sized beds were found in a bedroom. DCS will conduct its own investigation, the report said.

Officers searched all the adults at the home. O’Neill had two knives and a magazine to a handgun on him. O’Neill told the sheriff that the handgun was in a car in the driveway and that the gun belonged to his girlfriend. He told the sheriff that he was a convicted felon and it was illegal for him to possess a gun.

Hardin owned the gray car where police found the gun. He said he did not know it was there.

Detective Paul Henderson found a marijuana pipe in Gess’ pocket, the report said.

In a room where Breedlove stayed, police found a plastic bag containing less than 30 grams of marijuana, a marijuana grinder and a glass pipe, the report said.

In Gess’ room, police found a prescription bottle with a black, tarry substance that was consistent with the smell of burnt marijuana. Police also found a metal pipe and another prescription bottle with a woman’s name on it; she was not at the home, the report said.

In the kitchen, police found a plastic bag of marijuana, a tray with marijuana and tobacco on it, and a container that held partially burnt, hand-rolled marijuana cigarettes, the affidavit states.

Police reported finding a large number of marijuana smoking devices in one bedroom, along with two quarter-pound-sized marijuana bags in a cooler with children’s toys. In that room, police also found Hardin’s driver’s license and mail addressed to him, according to the affidavit.

On April 27, O’Neill was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon, a Level 4 felony.

Gess was charged with cruelty to an animal, a Class A misdemeanor, and possession of paraphernalia, a Class C misdemeanor.

Breedlove was charged with two misdemeanors for possession of marijuana and paraphernalia.

Hardin was charged with maintaining a common nuisance — controlled substances, a Level 6 felony; possession of marijuana, a Class B misdemeanor; and possession of paraphernalia, a Class C misdemeanor.


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