UPDATE: There are still no leads in the butchering of Phedras De Blondel.
Last week, investigators released images from surveillance video taken in the early morning hours of October 25th, at a Circle K store, which showed two men and their van whom police hoped would have information on the case. The men have been identified and questioned and have been determined not to have been involved.
More than $30,000 USD has been raised online to offer as a reward for catching those responsible. And and additional $22,000 USD raised will go towards the establishment of a non-profit foundation to put an end to the illegal slaughter of horses for human consumption.
ORIGINAL POST, OCT 26TH: Grand prix show jumper, Phedras De Blondel, was found dead and dismembered in a field at Centennial Farm in Palmetto, Florida, the home base of Olympian Debbie Stephens, and her course designer husband, Steve Stephens, on October 25th.
The 12-year-old Selle Francis gelding, previously ridden by France’s Christian Hermon was purchased from Nicolas Paillot and Arly Golombek on October 18th, and had arrived at the farm just 48 hours prior to his gruesome death.
The discovery was made early Monday morning, when a staff member found Phedras’s stall empty at morning feed. A search led to a small paddock at the back of the property, where investigators say he was slaughtered sometime during the night.
Manatee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Dave Bristow said “All the evidence tells us they came in and butchered the horse for meat.” He noted that security footage was too dark to be of use, and said officers are currently processing the scene. He asked that anyone with information contact the Sheriff’s Office at 941-747-3011.
The incident appears to be the latest in a rash of criminal cases in which horses have been discovered butchered and left to die at private and commercial equestrian facilities in Florida. The last reported case was July 22nd, involving a three-year-old Quarter Horse filly in Hialeah, Florida.
On October 13th, three illegal slaughter houses were shut down by Palm Beach County authorities. It was the largest such raid in U.S. history. Eight slaughter house owners and employees were arrested, and charged with causing cruel death to conservation animals, torment, deprivation, mutilation or killing or conservation animals as well as selling, buying and possession of horse meat. Close to 1,000 animals were rescued, including horses, cattle, pigs, goats, several species of birds, dogs and cats.
It is illegal in Florida to slaughter horses for meat, but reports indicate that the black market demand for is high, with buyers from Palm Beach to Miami.