Animal abuse call ends in death
By Steve Herring
Published in News on February 8, 2010 1:46 PM
This mobile home is the site of an animal abuse call that ended in the suicide of a Duplin County man Sunday.
MOUNT OLIVE -- The SBI is investigating the Sunday afternoon death of a Duplin County man who shot himself after a standoff with sheriff's deputies.
Lawmen were at the home of Clifton Boyd Jacobs on Tram Road to respond to charges of animal cruelty.
Duplin Sheriff Blake Wallace said Jacobs, 43, killed himself with a .38 caliber handgun after deputies entered his house to execute a search warrant about 5 p.m.
"They entered the house yelling 'Sheriff's Office, search warrant, Sheriff's Office, search warrant,'" Wallace said. "They located him on a bed in a back bedroom and asked him to show his hands. At that point, he had his hand by his side and raised a gun in the air. He paused for a second, then turned it on himself.
"I think the deputies acted admirably and showed restraint. They could have shot Mr. Jacobs when he refused to comply and showed a weapon."
Wallace said he has asked that the SBI investigate the incident even though deputies did not fire their weapons.
An autopsy was to be performed this morning, Wallace said.
Deputies had surrounded the house at 513 Tram Road, some eight miles southeast of Mount Olive, after an adjoining property owner discovered the carcasses of 14 dead horses, some partially buried, near the property line. Four dead dogs were found on Jacobs' property after the shooting.
Ten live horses and several live dogs were removed from the property Sunday night. The dogs were taken by Duplin County Animal Control while the horses were taken away by an Onslow County man who helps that county's animal control office. Neighbors helped corral the horses.
Several high-powered rifles were found inside Jacobs' home, Wallace added. The sheriff noted that Jacobs had a history of violent behavior.
Jacobs had been investigated for animal cruelty before. But Humane Society officials decided last summer that a complaint lodged against him did not warrant charges and that the animals in his possession were being fed and watered adequately. The only problem found was the lack of adequate pasture space for the horses.
But last week, a LaGrange man, John Smith, who owns property adjacent to Jacobs, was told by people in the area that Jacobs had dead horses on his property. Smith went out to see for himself.
"I went Friday and it was raining and cold," Smith said. "When I rode by I saw this little colt standing. It was nothing but skin and bones. Her four feet were almost touching and she couldn't hardly move and her tail was sticking right straight out. She was pitiful looking."
Smith stopped, got out and took photos of the animal with his cell phone camera.
"She wanted to come to me, but she was so weak she could hardly get around," he said. "She was pitiful."
Smith contacted authorities. Wallace said the Humane Society was notified Friday.
On Sunday, Smith decided to walk the property line again.
"I walked down the side of the line, not the closest to his house, but further away," he said. "I walked around the edge of the woods which is on my property and I started finding dead horses on my property. I found six dead horses. Then I started walking on down my property line and I found eight more dead horses right on my property line. They were totally starved to death.
"There was one propped up on a fence with its head in a water bucket and it died in that position with its head in the water trough. There was no water in the trough. Right beside him was a female horse that had just had a colt and evidently the colt tried to feed from the mother and evidently the mother must have collapsed because she was actually on top of the colt's head down where she would have been feeding him at and they were like buried into the mud. Next to them was another horse dead.
"Then, inside the barn, that isn't on my property, there was another dead horse."
Deputies responded about 11 a.m. but had to wait until they had obtained a search warrant to enter the property.