Terry Thompson Animals

November 9, 2011 by staff 

Terry Thompson Animals, A debt-ridden man distraught over marital problems and deep in debt told one of his farmhands the night before he released a menagerie of African lions, Bengal tigers and other exotic animals that he had a plan and said to the caretaker: “You will know when it happens.”

Terry Thompson threw open the animals’ cages late in the afternoon on Oct. 18 and then committed suicide on his farm near Zanesville in eastern Ohio.

According to reports released Friday, sheriff’s deputies who arrived at Thompson’s private compound had no choice but to shoot the animals crouching between abandoned vehicles and tigers still coming out of their cages. When it was over, 48 animals were dead.

Nearly all the cages were unlocked and holes had been cut in the metal fencing. A tiger and a black bear were in the same enclosure, but the door was unlocked and open. “As I backed the team up, the tiger came out the door and charged right at us,” said deputy Jay Lawhorne.

Deputies shot the tiger, and the bear, after it ran at other officers. Another deputy said he shot a charging black bear that dropped within seven feet (two meters) of him.

The reports released by the Muskingum County Sheriff’s Office reveal how deputies suddenly found themselves in the middle of a desperate hunt. They also offer clues to Thompson’s motive. The 62-year-old told a farmhand that he was upset about his marital problems and that he had a plan, according to a deputy who talked with the caretaker. Thompson then told the caretaker: “You will know it when it happens.”

He and his wife had devoted their lives to the animals. He bought his first exotic animal, a lion cub named Simba, at an auction for his wife’s birthday about 14 years ago. Just days before he set the animals free, he told a deputy that he was having a tough time taking care of the animals after spending a year in prison on a gun conviction. He also was deep in debt to the Internal Revenue Service.

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