Local News

Fremont man arrested in 'horrific' animal cruelty case

Posted January 6, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

— A Fremont man faces charges in what Wayne County animal control officers call "the most horrific, disturbing case" of animal cruelty they have ever seen.

Lawton McKenzie, 28, of Old Black Creek Road, was arrested Tuesday on three misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty after authorities who went to his home found dismembered animals, a machete, knives, bowls of blood and what appeared to be a puppy’s head in a plastic bag.

Animal cruelty Dismembered animals found at Fremont home

The investigation is ongoing, and more charges are possible, the Wayne County Sheriff's Office said. Authorities declined to release his exact address.

Animal control officers found the remains of several dozen animals on Dec. 3, Justin Scally, director of the Wayne County Department of Animal Control Services.

"There were multiple animals that had been decapitated," he said. "I don't think you're ever really prepared to see situations like this."

Other animals were being burned on what Scally described as "a homemade grill of sorts."

Investigators also found the remains of a decapitated dog with its front paws cut off, dead snakes, a dead turtle, dead puppies and what appeared to be a goat’s head on the grill.

Other items were unidentifiable. Investigators also found the remains of several predatory birds, such as owls, on the property.

An accurate count of how many deceased animals will never be available, Scally said, because of the number of unmatchable dismembered parts found on the property.

Investigators removed 26 living animals from the house, including a dying goat, Scally said. It was rushed to a local veterinarian's office and survived.

“It was the most horrific, disturbing case that I have ever investigated," he said. “What we saw, I don’t think I will ever forget for the rest of my life."

Neighbors said Tuesday they had complained to animal control in the past about animal carcasses in the yard and about pit bulls getting loose from McKenzie's residence and killing other animals in the neighborhood, including a pony and two cats.

Scally said he had questioned McKenzie before and that he denied killing the animals, that they were road kill and that he was studying taxidermy and using the animals' bones to make necklaces.

Investigators were only able to charge McKenzie last week when they determined they had enough evidence.

Scally said the animals are improving and should all have no problems if adopted. While he said the scene at McKenzie's home disgusted his investigators, workers have been concentrating on the surviving animals.

"Our goal is providing the best care that we can for these animals," he said, "and to prosecute (McKenzie) ... to the greatest potential."

The County of Wayne has filed a civil complaint against McKenzie requiring he pay for the upkeep of the seized animals. The county also requested McKenzie post sufficient funds with the Clerk of Superior Court to insure the care of the animals for an additional 30 days.

McKenzie is scheduled to appear in court on the civil charge on Jan. 15.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • gdsb Jan 14, 2009

    Here is the Truth of the entire case:he will walk free after a sniveling "plea-down".Maybe a $25 fine or so.NEVER MIND that he was investigated before and nothing was done,except,now:the behavorial pattern is escalating i.e.more crueler animal abuse.Besides,he is 'out of the headlines'.Everybody had their GOLO 'day in court'.All who were so concerned?WHAT DID you DO TODAY TO HELP STOP ANIMAL ABUSE/NEGLECT?Please..on your way to work,shopping etc.Check out the surroundings.Report suspected animal abuse/neglect.See a bone-thin dog?Dog cannot reach water (due to being chained),inappropriate shelter (hello,a garbage can is not a shelter) and the list goes on.Be humane,Be compassionate..Not just on GOLO and Blogs.Take real action..be proactive to stop this GROWING 'trend' of animal abuse.Humans are not that far 'up'in the chain of life that a'crossover/step up'will occur:from animal abuse to human abuse/murder.Gacey,Bundy and all the others proved that fact.

  • weldinggirl87 Jan 8, 2009

    Oh yeah, in my "do it yourself taxidermy" book, it says to keep puppies heads in plastic bags and bowls of blood lying around the house. Also, to decapitate the animals, instead of stuffing them through the stomach, as one would think. And be sure to keep a grill handy for those pesky goat heads. Please. This guy talked to a good lawyer. Just wait until they go to the sickos house in a few months and fine some decapitated people. Serial killers always start with killing animals.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Jan 8, 2009

    braddyg said, “I never once implied that Satanists sacrifice animals.”

    I just checked. This is true. My mistake. Others here, though, have implied such a false link and I would love an answer to my questions from them. But, what is your point about defending Satanism here since Satanists also vehemently condemn animal cruelty? (This is a chance to show you’re above the other bigoted, false remarks here.)

    And I really would like to see you answer a question. :-) Your comment, “You REALLY need to chill out”, is similar to saying “Oh Yeah?”, which shows that you have no response and contributes nothing to the discussion...and a good discussion is all any of us want, right?

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Jan 8, 2009


    I said, “You also imply that this guy tortured the animals merely by decapitating them.”

    npggirl said, “...The story may not mention the word torture...but it is obviousl [sic] self explanatory [sic]. If you do not think so, then that is another issue... Or do you not think being decapitated would be extremely painful?”

    Where’s the confusion? Where did I “misread” anything?

    You state that you think decapitation is torture, yet you may find it interesting to know that decapitation was created to ELIMINATE pain and suffering. There can be no suffering without blood to the brain. This is an old, widely known fact. They even have it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guillotine where they say, “[The guillotine creators’] concerns contributed to the idea that capital punishment’s purpose was the ending of life instead of the infliction of pain.”

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Jan 8, 2009

    Amyrn, at that link you provided, the person states the opposite of what you say. She says, “Therefore, even if [Satanists] do practice animal sacrifice, there is still no excuse for cruelty to the animal.”

    And, like you, she seems to able to understand what she reads. She quoted Mr. LaVey where he was blasting “fools, who have been calling themselves witches and warlocks” for “stupidity of the need to kill an innocent living creature”. He then says, “Under NO circumstances would a Satanist sacrifice an animal or baby!”

    Please re-read that page and tell me where you could get any of what you, and others here, are implying.

  • gdsb Jan 7, 2009

    on an addendum note:all the(mostly)thoughtful,caring and intelligent posters:Please email/call/write NC Governor,the Attorney General's office,state sen. etc etc.Make your voice heard in a manner that will AFFECT Change to stop vermin from getting 'slap on the wrist"sentences.COMPLAIN-No more of your Tax dollars to allow NC to brutally gas animals to death.Tighten the animal abuse laws!Enforce them to the fullest.McKenzie(and his ilk-there are many more in the USA like him)have chosen to abuse,maim,neglect sentient lives.They are more than animal abusers.They are abominations to decent society.Most of them "walk" free with smugness+even greater callous disregard for law.They repeat the sadistic behavior over and over.One day that sweet toddler 'next door'may be mighty enticing as some fine jewelry.Far-fetched?Wayne Gacey,Dahmer,et al?Each killer climbed the ladder of animal abuse to human murder.MANY Times over.Can you honestly know what is going on in another person's mind??

  • gdsb Jan 7, 2009

    Gloriously free,McKenzie states he was "studying taxidermy..and using bones for necklaces".By his own admission he has committed several felonious criminal acts on both state and Federal level:under Title 50,Parts 10,13,20 subparts A-B,D-J and 21.24 Code of Federal Regulations:"in order to receive,possess" (game,animals,protected species etc etc)for purposes of taxidermy,FEDERAL and STATE PERMITS are Required.The possession of any protected species,on his property/person,is also subject to ADDITIONAL Federal permits.He has also violated State of NC Wildlife Commission regulations.His violations are multi-counts.The possession of any "bones"..animal or human,to make into "jewelry"(personal or for sale) are also under appropriate Federal and State regulations,including,but not limited to the cleaning,disinfecting of parts,bones etc that may possess potential health hazards.The general laws of the USA are quite clear:IGNORANCE of the Law is NOT an excuse/absolution for violating the laws.

  • sunneyone Jan 7, 2009

    Ghimmy, it mentions on the grill there being flesh. Burning something is usually torturous.

    Hereandnow, have you heard of the New Testament? Christianity NO LONGER requires any kind of sacrifice, thanks to Jesus dying on the cross. So sacrifices and offerings haven't been practised in 2009 years now, mmm kay?

  • clover1019 Jan 7, 2009

    this story makes me so mad i just dont even know what to write...i cant imagine they would post it anyways.

  • npggirl Jan 7, 2009

    Repost:ghimmy51 says...
    "Maybe my eyes are failing. Could someone please point out to me where this story mentions torture?" ghimmy51

    npggirl says......tor⋅ture   /ˈtɔrtʃər/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [tawr-cher] Show IPA Pronunciation noun, verb, -tured, -tur⋅ing. –noun 1. the act of inflicting excruciating pain, as punishment or revenge, as a means of getting a confession or information, or for sheer cruelty. 2. a method of inflicting such pain. 3. Often, tortures. the pain or suffering caused or undergone. 4. extreme anguish of body or mind; agony. 5. a cause of severe pain or anguish.

    npggirl says...The story may not mention the word torture...but it is obviousl self explanitory. If you do not think so, then that is another issue... Or do you not think being decapitated would be extremely painful?

    Gotta spell stuff out for ppl around here