Local News

Neighbors complained for months about neglected horses

Posted February 8, 2010

— Neighbors of a Duplin County farm where the carcasses of 13 horses were found Sunday morning said Monday that they had complained for months about neglected animals.

Patricia Brewer said her family rented the land on Tram Road, near Mount Olive, to 43-year-old Clifton Jacobs, who owned the horses.

Clifton Jacobs, killed self, owned dead horses Horse owner kills self as deputies search farm

"We tried to get the man evicted a number of times because of the neglect of the animals," Brewer said. "People have complained about the situation down here, and nothing was done."

Jacobs committed suicide Sunday, authorities said.

Brewer's brother, John Harvey Smith, was on the property Sunday when he stumbled across the dead horses.

"I came upon a dead horse, then I came upon another dead horse, then I came upon another dead horse," Smith said.

He said he found five dead horses in the woods and eight more in a barn. One of the horses had its neck on the rim of a water trough.

Although hay and 50-pound bags of feed were near the horses stalls, the animals had gone without food for so long that they began gnawing on small trees in the pasture, according to neighbors.

Duplin County Sheriff Blake Wallace said his deputies twice responded to complaints about the horses before Sunday.

"We found the horses somewhat underweight but in relative good health," Wallace said of the initial call last summer.

On Friday, he said, a deputy found similar conditions.

"Obviously, there was nothing that passed the deputy's suspicion at the time they went out there Friday. There were no dead carcasses that were in plain view," he said.

Representatives with the U.S. Humane Society accompanied deputies to the farm last summer, but the organization couldn't be reached Friday, Wallace said.

After Smith's discovery of the dead horses Sunday, deputies secured a search warrant and entered Jacobs' home after he refused to go outside.

Wallace said they found him in a back room with several high-powered rifles, and he fatally shot himself.

The State Bureau of Investigation is looking into Jacobs' death since deputies were in his home at the time.

Jacobs had a criminal record dating to 1993, with convictions for resisting arrest, assault on a female, larceny and driving offenses, according to state Department of Correction records.

Neighbors described Jacobs as a horse enthusiast who took good care of the horses until recent months.

Nine emaciated horses were rescued from the farm and were taken to a rehabilitation facility in Onslow County.


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  • sunneyone Feb 10, 2010

    The dude could have called and asked for help. He was capable of helping himself and he didn't. Those horses depended on him. They had no other options. So, yes, I feel way worse about them than I EVER will for him.

  • spccomputech Feb 10, 2010

    My poetic dedication to the horses we lost..

    You told me, I see you rise
    But, it always, falls
    I see you come, I see you go

    You say, "All things pass, into the night"
    And I say, "Oh no sir, I must say you're wrong, I must disagree, oh no sir, I must say you're wrong"
    Won't you listen to me

    You told me, I've seen it all before
    I've Been there,
    I've seen my hopes and dreams a-lying on the ground

    I've seen the sky, just begin to fall And you say, "All things pass, into the night" And I say, "Oh no sir, I must say you're wrong, I must disagree, oh no sir, I must say you're wrong" Won't you listen to meeeeeeeeee?

    Good-bye horses I'm lying over you Good-bye horses I'm lying over you Good-bye horses I'm lying over you Good-bye horses I'm lying, lying, lying over yooooooooooouuuuuuuuuu!!!!

  • ladyblue Feb 9, 2010

    it's quite obvious that the man had gone into some kind of depression since he was keeping the animal fine for years and up to a few months ago. The article said food and hay was there in the barn. NO the blame here is on the people who "claimed they went out to investigate"-- no way 13 horses died that quick at once. some of them were probably some dead when they "claimed they went out" IMO since the owner is gone someone else needs to be charged for soem hand in soem of those deaths in this, and I think it's the ones who claimed to go out. Thats my opinion

  • icdumbpeople Feb 9, 2010

    Let me say something to you people. First of all, humans can get off thier lazy welfare hineys and find a job. If they cant do that, they can walk to the welfare office where the goverment (my tax money) will buy food, pay for rent and any thing the need and still have money for drugs to use. These animals are locked up.. cant get a job and they need us to care for them. The heck with a lazy human. It is OUR job to care for these animals. It is a human's job to stop overpopulating this world with children they can not feed or care for. (that I am forced to) I have little compasion for fools.

  • Vietnam Vet Feb 9, 2010

    Somebody should have locked up and starved the owner long before he got a chance to kill himself. Let the punishment fit the crime! There are too many options available to excuse this treatment of defenseless animals.

  • grayboomerang Feb 9, 2010

    As an owner of three horses....this is a heartbreaking story.
    If you ever run across a situation such as this....call NCERL (North Carolina Equine Rescue League)..they will be glad to help.

    As far as "Not knowing anything about horses"....well, if you saw a dog who was emaciated, could you figure out that he wasn't beigng fed? You know, when you can ribs on an animal, their backbone/hipbones are protruding....then they are being neglected....not rocket science.

  • Duck Feb 9, 2010

    If people cared more about VICTIMS, animal or human, than PERPETRATORS the world would be a better place!!!! This isn't a story where an animal and owner died together in a tragic accident, such as a horse & rider being hit by a car, this is a story of a MONSTER who committed acts of unimaginable cruelty. One of these horses was found dead in with it's head in an empty stock tank, desperately searching for water. A dead baby was found under it's dead mother who had collapsed on it. Then, rather than facing the consequences of his actions, he took the cowards way out and made the CHOICE to die quickly and avoid the suffering his victims endured. People have every right to be outraged, and to express their outrage & horror at THE ACTS THIS MAN COMMITED.

  • ambidextrous cat Feb 9, 2010

    This is evidence of what can happen when no action is taken in cases of animal abuse.

    Garnerian: How are we supposed to care for a criminal? Reporting him and removing the animals would obviously have been best. How are we supposed to know that he needed help in the first place? The world is unkind to all types of animals, humans included.

  • Garnerian Feb 9, 2010

    "I would feed them and give them water and love."

    To an animal but not your neighbor? If we cared more for people than animals the world would be a better place. I'm not saying it's ok to starve your pets but when you care more for the animals than the person that was so bad off he killed himself there is a problem.

  • wildcat Feb 9, 2010

    I would feed them and give them water and love.