SUMMITTVILLE, Ind. -- A prosecutor said Friday that an Indiana barn where investigators found starving animals living on top of more than 100 rotting carcasses was the worst case of animal cruelty he has seen, while one of the owners maintains that the conditions have been exaggerated.

No charges have been filed against the owners, but Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings said "many counts of animal cruelty are a possibility."

"I've seen a number of animal cruelty cases. I've never seen anything like this before, with a level of volume that's unprecedented," Cummings told The Indianapolis Star.

Cummings said the law gives latitude in how people care for livestock, so some charges may be difficult to prove. Animal neglect is a Class D felony under Indiana law, punishable by up to three years in prison.

Investigators discovered the situation at a barn in Summitville, about 70 miles northeast of Indianapolis, earlier this week after receiving a report about several dead animals. Investigators initially found as many as 100 carcasses, including dead horses, chickens, turkeys, rabbits, cats and dogs, inside the barn. Sheriff's deputies have been burying the carcasses.

Also inside the barn were about 30 living animals who were so malnourished one investigator described them as "walking skeletons."

Authorities say they found more dead animals in a septic tank Wednesday, and Madison County Sheriff's Department Maj. Brian Bell said there was "no telling how man" dead animals were on the farm altogether.

"`Lots' is all I can tell you."

The surviving animals include horses, sheep, chickens, turkeys and rabbits. Some of them have been placed in foster homes, but some are still loose.

Carrie Ault, who owns the farm with her husband, told The Herald Bulletin that the condition of the surviving animals has been "blown way out of proportion" and the media is "over-exaggerating" the situation. Ault did not elaborate.

Maleah Stringer, director of the nonprofit Animal Protection League, disagreed.

"These animals were living, literally living and sleeping on piles of rotting bodies. And no food, no water, nothing," she said. "This is not overblown."

The Aults run an animal auction in Strawtown in Hamilton County and had been working on opening a meat processing plant in Grant County.

Earlier this week, Ault's husband, Daniel Ault, said the deaths weren't preventable. He said some of the animals had died four months ago and he didn't have the equipment to dispose of the carcasses.

Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • 10. Alaska

    List and captions courtesy of<a href="http://api.viglink.com/api/click?format=go&key=1fd204d8792518e336580cc72b47c06b&loc=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.huffingtonpost.com%2F2012%2F12%2F27%2Fanimal-cruelty-laws-2012-aldf_n_2316950.html%23slide%3D1916276&v=1&libid=1361811364918&out=http%3A%2F%2Faldf.org%2F&title=Animal%20Cruelty%20Laws%3A%20ALDF%20Ranks%20States%20By%20Abuse%20Regulations&txt=Animal%20Legal%20Defense%20Fund&jsonp=vglnk_jsonp_13618115109463"> Animal Legal Defense Fund</a>.

  • 9. Utah

  • 8. Hawaii

  • 7. New Jersey

  • 6. Wyoming

  • 5. New Mexico

    <a href="http://aldf.org/custom/rankings/ALDF2012USRankingsReport.pdf">ALDF Overview: Why These States Made the “Worst Five” List</a> <blockquote>Felony provisions available only for cruelty and fighting against select animals   Inadequate felony provisions for neglect; none for abandonment   No provisions for sexual assault Inadequate definitions/standards of basic care   No increased penalties when abuse is committed in the presence of a minor or involves multiple animals No provisions for veterinarians or other select non‐animal‐related agencies/professionals to report suspected animal abuse   No duty for peace officers to enforce animal protection laws   Humane officers lack broad law enforcement authority Inadequate cost mitigation & recovery provisions for impounded animals   No restrictions on future ownership or possession of animals following a conviction   No statutory authority to allow protective orders to include animals   Inadequate animal fighting provisions  </blockquote>

  • 4. South Dakota

    <a href="http://aldf.org/custom/rankings/ALDF2012USRankingsReport.pdf">ALDF Overview: Why These States Made the “Worst Five” List</a> <blockquote>No felony animal cruelty, neglect or abandonment provisions   Inadequate definitions/standards of basic care   No increased penalties for repeat animal abusers No increased penalties when abuse is committed in the presence of a minor or involves multiple animals No mandatory forfeiture of animals upon conviction No provisions for veterinarians or other select non‐animal‐related agencies/professionals to report suspected animal abuse   No duty for peace officers to enforce animal protection laws   Humane officers lack broad law enforcement authority Inadequate cost mitigation & recovery provisions for impounded animals   No restrictions on future ownership or possession of animals following a conviction No mental health evaluations or counseling for offenders   No statutory authority to allow protective orders to include animals   Inadequate animal fighting provisions</blockquote>

  • 3. Iowa

    <a href="http://aldf.org/custom/rankings/ALDF2012USRankingsReport.pdf">ALDF Overview: Why These States Made the “Worst Five” List</a> <blockquote>Ag gag law Felony provisions available only for cruelty against select animals and fighting Inadequate definitions/standards of basic care   No increased penalties for repeat animal abusers No increased penalties when abuse is committed in the presence of a minor or involves multiple animals No mandatory forfeiture of animals upon conviction No provisions for veterinarians or other select non‐animal‐related agencies/professionals to report suspected animal abuse   No duty for peace officers to enforce animal protection laws   Humane officers lack broad law enforcement authority Inadequate cost mitigation & recovery provisions for impounded animals   No restrictions on future ownership or possession of animals following a conviction   No statutory authority to allow protective orders to include animals   Inadequate animal fighting provisions</blockquote>  

  • 2. North Dakota

    <a href="http://aldf.org/custom/rankings/ALDF2012USRankingsReport.pdf">ALDF Overview: Why These States Made the “Worst Five” List</a> <blockquote>Ag gag law No felony animal cruelty, neglect, abandonment, or sexual assault provisions   Inadequate definitions/standards of basic care   No increased penalties for repeat animal abusers No increased penalties when abuse is committed in the presence of a minor or involves multiple animals No mandatory forfeiture of animals upon conviction No provisions for veterinarians or other select non‐animal‐related agencies/professionals to report suspected animal abuse   No duty for peace officers to enforce animal protection laws   Humane officers lack broad law enforcement authorityPage 18 Inadequate cost mitigation & recovery provisions for impounded animals   No restrictions on future ownership or possession of animals following a conviction   No mental health evaluations or counseling for offenders   No statutory authority to allow protective orders to include animals   Inadequate animal fighting provisions</blockquote>  

  • 1. Kentucky

    <a href="http://aldf.org/custom/rankings/ALDF2012USRankingsReport.pdf">ALDF Overview: Why These States Made the “Worst Five” List</a> <blockquote>Felony provisions available only for cruelty and fighting, both against only select animals   Inadequate definitions/standards of basic care   Principal protections apply only to select types of animals   No felony provisions for neglect or abandonment   No provisions for sexual assault No increased penalties when abuse is committed in the presence of a minor or involves multiple animals No court‐ordered forfeiture provisions Veterinarians are prohibited from reporting suspected cruelty or fighting   No provisions for select non‐animal‐related agencies/professionals to report suspected animal abuse   No duty for peace officers to enforce animal protection laws   Humane officers lack broad law enforcement authority No cost mitigation & recovery provisions for impounded animals   No restrictions on future ownership or possession of animals following a conviction   No mental health evaluations or counseling for offenders   No statutory authority to allow protective orders to include animals   Inadequate animal fighting provisions</blockquote>  

  • Also on The Huffington Post...





Loading Slideshow...
  • "Young L.A. Girl Slain; Body Slashed in Two" -L.A.'s Daily News

    On January 15, 1947, the remains of Elizabeth Short, were found in a vacant lot in Los Angeles. What made this discovery the stuff of tabloid sensation, however, was the Glasgow smile left on the aspiring actress' face--made with 3-inch slashes on each side. This, coupled with Short's dark hair, fair complexion and reputation for sporting a dahlia in her hair, dubbed her "The Black Dahlia" in headlines. What followed was a media circus filled with rumors and speculation about the promiscuous 22-year-old's checkered past. What haunts theorists to this day, apart from the victim's uniquely nightmarish visage, is that the case remains unsolved after some 200 suspects were interviewed and ultimately released--making it one of Hollywood's most lurid legends.

  • "I Am Not Guilty - Thus Lizzie Borden Pleads Before Judge Hammond at New Bedford." -Boston Journal

    <em>"Lizzie Borden took an axe And gave her mother forty whacks. And when she saw what she had done, She gave her father forty-one."</em> So goes the lurid nursery rhyme to one of the most mystifying crimes of the century. The nature of the deaths of Andrew J. Borden and his wife, Abby, are trumped only by the identity of the alleged perpetrator: their daughter, Lizzie. Inexplicably found "not guilty" in contrast to the era's zeitgeist of swift justice, Lizzie's legacy--guilty or not--has become immortalized as one of the most perplexing cases of parricide in history.

  • "Texas Mother Charged with Killing Her 5 Children" -CNN

    In a case of mother-gone-mad that startled a nation, Andrea Yates, to her few friends and neighbors, was known as a mere recluse suffering from postpartum depression leading up to the birth of her fifth child. That all changed on June 20, 2001, when she snapped, drowning five of her children in their home's bathtub. She was convicted in 2002 of capital murder, carrying a sentence of life in prison with possible parole. As of July 2006, however, a Texas jury found her not guilty by reason of insanity.

  • "Buttafuoco Admits to Sex with Amy Fisher" -New York Times

    Known as the "Long Island Lolita," Fisher became involved with Joey Buttafuoco in May of 1991. Shortly after the two began a sexual relationship (she, 16, while he, 35, was married with two children), his presence and influence in her life became all she cared for. In what he's since denied to this day, Buttafuoco would go on to help an obsessive Fisher plan the murder of his wife, culminating in Fisher putting a bullet in Mary Jo Buttafuoco's head, but failing to kill her. In the highly publicized trial that ensued, Fisher accepted a plea deal for 15 years in prison in exchange for a testimony against Joey, who faced and served out charges of statutory rape.

  • "Murder of a Little Beauty" -People Magazine

    With a face that graced the covers of nearly every news and gossip rag during the winter of '96, it's hard to suggest the death of child beauty pageant queen JonBenét Ramsey had little effect outside the city of Boulder, Colorado. Found dead from a blow to the head and strangulation in the family's basement, coupled with a ransom note left on the staircase asking for $118,000 (conveniently or coincidentally, nearly the same amount Mr. Ramsey received as a bonus that year), as well as no obvious signs of forced entry into the house, the evidence was overwhelmingly stacked against parents John and Patsy, who managed to maintain their innocence throughout the investigation. The case reopened in 2010, but critics cite poor handling of the crime scene as obstructing what remains a mystery regarding the events of that Christmas day.

  • "F.B.I. Joins Probe in Slaughter of 8 Nurses" -Nashua Telegraph

    Tattooed with "Born to Raise Hell" on his arm, Richard Speck made good on his mantra through a history of violence, theft, alcoholism, and spousal abuse, but made his infamy known to all when, on July 13, 1966, he walked into a dormitory armed with a knife. After leaving 8 student nurses dead in his wake, only one, Cora Amurao, was spared--hiding under a bed until 6 a.m. Speck was found guilty of murder and died of a heart attack in prison. As one of the most press-worthy crimes of the decade, the grim events were used most recently as the backdrop for an episode of <em>Mad Men</em>.

  • "Sharon Tate, Four Others Murdered" -Los Angeles Times

    Perhaps the most terrifying figure in American crime to have never actually killed anyone himself, Charles Manson founded a "family" of wayward individuals who hailed him as a prophet. So strong was his manipulation, he ordered, on the night of Aug. 8, 1969, four of his followers to kill everyone at the residence of 10050 Cielo Drive--including Roman Polanski's wife, Sharon Tate, and her unborn child. Tate was stabbed 16 times, and her blood was used to write "pig" on the house's front door. The next night, Manson accompanied six of his family to the residence of supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife, only to help bind them before ordering their deaths. In 1971, Manson and three of his fellow defendants were found guilty of murder in the first-degree and several other crimes. At the time, it was the longest murder trial in American history, spanning nine and a half months, as well as the most expensive, estimating $1 million. Manson was denied parole for the 12th time in April 2012.

  • "Lindbergh Baby Kidnapped from Home of Parents on Farm Near Princeton; Taken from His Crib; Wide Search on" -The New York Times

    Used as the basis for an Agatha Christie novel (<em>Murder on the Orient Express</em>) and dubbed "the biggest story since the Resurrection" by famed journalist H.L. Mencken, the kidnapping and murder of aviator Charles Lindbergh's infant son continues to fascinate theorists today. Charles Jr. was discovered missing from his second-floor bedroom on March 1, 1932, along with a note demanding a then-unimaginable $50,000, igniting a media frenzy like no other. The tabloid pandemonium prompted many tips and leads, but none as concrete as a package containing the boy's pajamas and another message demanding the ransom. After some misdirection from the presumed kidnapper, Lindbergh's child was soon after discovered in the woods along a road near the family residence. Notwithstanding the evidence stockpiled against the easily vilified illegal German immigrant Bruno Hauptmann (who was sentenced), speculation prevails as to the true identity of the caper responsible in this tragic tale of one of America's greatest heroes.

  • "Not Guilty as Sin" -NY Post

    Still fresh in the minds of many and not to easily be forgotten, the trial of Casey Anthony turned Orlando, Florida into anything but the "happiest place on earth." Following a series of lies, misdirection and manipulation by then-22 year old Casey, Caylee's skeletal remains were found five months into the investigation, setting the stage for what could only be described as the most incessantly publicized and shocking trial in recent memory. The media had a field day that went on for months: Highlighting the young, pretty, party girl image used against her in court as the prosecution tore apart an aimless defense--or so it seemed. After resorting to throwing her family under the bus, incriminating people entirely made-up ("Zanny the Nanny"), and fabricating elaborate stories for the police, Casey was found not guilty of murder due to evidence deemed mostly circumstantial and not meeting the burden of "beyond reasonable doubt," inciting much debate regarding whether true justice was served.

  • "An American Tragedy" -TIME

    Known and heralded as the "trial of the century," former football star and actor O.J. Simpson found himself in the middle of the nation's biggest, most-televised trial following the deaths of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman, but not before fleeing an all-points bulletin in his Ford Bronco with 20 units in tow, interrupting game 5 of the NBA Finals. By enlisting a dream team including Johnnie Cochran, Robert Shapiro, and Robert Kardashian, the defense claimed Simpson was merely a victim of police fraud with regard to contaminated DNA evidence, while famously quipping "If it [the glove] doesn't fit, you must acquit." On October 3, 1995, an estimated 100 million people from around the world tuned in to watch the jury hand down a verdict of not guilty, consequently resulting in an estimated loss of $480 million in productivity and inciting an ongoing discussion of race in the judicial system that continues to this day.