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Investigators Rule "Old Age" In Deaths Of Some Rowan Horses

MOREHEAD, KY -- An investigation into 31 dead horses found on a Rowan County farm has found about two-thirds died of old age, while the rest apparently from neglect, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader in its Sunday edition.

Det. Gary Lanham of the Rowan County Sheriff's Department said Saturday that investigators are seeking another "person of interest" they want to interview in the case. And, he said, it now appears that many of the equine remains found on Don Miller's farm were those of horses that had been dead for some time, perhaps even dating back almost 30 years.

When investigators went to Miller's farm near Morehead last week, they found 11 dead horses in a barn and the remains of 20 more in a hollow on the farm. Another 24 horses were alive, but in varying physical condition. Miller told police he had been ill for the past year and unable to care for the horses, reports the newspaper.

But Lanham said Saturday that most or all of the 20 carcasses found in the hollow apparently had been there for years.

Lanham said that based on the paperwork Miller kept on his horses, it appears that some of those animals died in 1979 or in the early 1980s. the newspaper reports.

As of now, Lanham said, the focus is on the 11 dead horses found in the barn and what killed them. Officers hope to get a veterinarian's report by Tuesday, he said.

Meanwhile, investigators are trying to locate a man who, they hope, might shed more light on the case, reports the newspaper.

Miller told officers last week that he had assigned his 16-year-old son to look after the horses while he was sick. But Lanham said Miller has since told them that he also had a man coming by on weekends to check on the horses.

According to Lanham, the "person of interest" also was putting up an electrical fence on the farm, working off a debt he owed Miller. Lanham declined to identify him.

There's been no answer to phone calls to the man's home phone or cell phone, Lanham said. He said he hoped to locate the man on Monday.

So far, Don Miller has been charged only with violating state law on the disposal of animal carcasses, the newspaper reports .

Lanham noted that in earlier years it was not unusual for farmers to dispose of dead livestock by dragging the remains to some distant part of their property, leaving them to decompose or be eaten by scavengers, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader.

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