A felony count of animal abuse and torture was officially filed with the 26th Judicial Circuit Court Monday morning against Edward Coleman after the Morgan County Sheriff's Department found multiple deceased and malnourished cattle on his property along Highway 135 South.
The Morgan County Sheriff's Department still has 49 misdemeanor charges pending against Coleman, 70, Versailles, relating to the case, which is still under investigation.
"All the charges play into the one felony," said Lt. Mike Nienhuis, who filed the probable cause statement on Coleman with the court. "You still must prove torture. Instead of filing all of the others, we are leaving those open until we see where the felony goes in this case."
The pending misdemeanors include 14 charges of animal abuse/torture, 20 charges of animal neglect or abandonment, and 15 charges of violating provision regarding disposal of dead animals, according to Nienhuis' probable cause statement filed with the court Jan. 28.
As reported in the probable cause statement, Nienhuis was contacted by Veterinarian Dane Henry with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Jan. 3 and was advised there were some cattle that he believed were malnourished and starving. Nienhuis executed a search warrant on Jan. 9 with the assistance of the USDA veterinarian and the Humane Society of Missouri.
According to Nienhuis' statement, 15 deceased cattle in some form of decomposition, 13 skulls and other bones, and 20 cows and calves in very poor condition were located on Coleman's property, which is across from his residence along Highway 135 South. The veterinarian stated that the remaining cattle were malnourished and starving.
When completing the search warrant, Nienhuis stated Coleman arrived on the scene and asked why the agencies were there.
"He was served the search warrant and I asked Mr. Coleman if the cows were his; he stated yes. I advised him of the situation and he left the area," Nienhuis said in the probable cause statement.
According to the statement, Nienhuis said Coleman had been contacted on eight separate occasions in reference to the health and wellness of his animals and with the proper disposal of deceased and decaying carcasses.
With the assistance of the Morgan County road department, which brought in two backhoes and four personal to assist with burying the 15 cattle that were still in some sort of decomposition, the animals were buried following state guidelines, the Morgan County Sheriff's Department previously reported. The 20 cows and calves that were still living were removed from the property and taken to a local veterinarian for stabilizing as well as body scoring. After interview of Coleman the cattle were signed over to the Humane Society of Missouri and were transferred to a local cattle ranch, the department previously reported.