State agriculture official accused of horse abuse

LOUISVILLE, Ga. --- About two dozen horses that disappeared from a state-quarantined Georgia pasture this year are suspected of being illegally transported to South Carolina, where an investigation has led to the arrests of three people, including a state agriculture official.

 

James W. Trexler, an assistant commissioner in the South Carolina Department of Agriculture; his brother Terry A. Trexler; and their mother, Hazelene Trexler, were taken into custody Wednesday night by the Richland County Sheriff's Office.

In addition to 23 charges of animal cruelty, Terry Trexler, 44, of Sumter, also faces a kidnapping charge over accusations that he restrained a Humane Society investigator by blocking her in with his truck, officials said.

On Monday, South Carolina Humane Society officials took 23 horses from a pasture in Eastover. All were in poor physical condition, the group's public relations director said.

James Trexler, 48, of Hopkins, faces five counts of ill treatment of animals involving five horses taken from his property Tuesday.

"Four of the horses were shut up in dark stalls with feces, urine and mud piled up over their hooves," Ms. Graham said. "There was no food in any of the stalls and very little water."

According to South Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers' office, James Trexler was suspended Wednesday from his position as assistant commissioner of administration pending the outcome of the investigation.

Ms. Trexler, 70, who has claimed ownership of all the horses, has been charged with 28 cases of ill treatment of animals.

Terry and Ms. Trexler each face 30 counts of animal cruelty in Georgia's Jefferson County, where the state Agriculture Department has been investigating a rented pasture since October.