January 21, 2019

23 cows dead on Essex farm

Son of owner charged with animal cruelty

An Essex man has been charged with cruelty to animals after an investigation by the Chittenden County Humane Society, Essex Police and the Chittenden County State’s Attorney reportedly verified 21 dead cows at a farm on Chapin Road in Essex.

Essex Police reported receiving a call on April 27 from a person who had been inside a barn at 278 Chapin Road and had taken pictures of multiple dead cows.

Jonathan Matthews, son of the property owner Earle Matthews, allowed investigators to inspect the barn, police said. Investigators found 21 dead cows and 13 cows that were “still alive inside the barn but in very bad condition,” according to a report from Essex police. Two of the 13 cows found alive were later put down.

Investigators determined the cause of death to be starvation.

According to police, Earle Matthews agreed to relinquish ownership of the 11 remaining cows and 13 that were later found alive in a field on the property. A farm in Westford agreed to take in the 24 cows for care and rehabilitation. Authorities with the Vermont Department of Agriculture disposed of the deceased cows.

The investigation revealed that Earle Matthews suffered an injury in January that left him unable to work. His son, Jonathan, had to take over daily operations of the farm. Jonathan Matthews said a combination of financial issues, a severe winter and problems with farm equipment made it so he could not properly take care of the cows after his father’s injuries, according to police. He reportedly told police that he quickly became overwhelmed, that he could not take care of the cows, and they started dying. 

The Chittenden County State’s Attorney’s Office reviewed the case in May. As a result of that review, Essex Police charged Jonathan Matthews with cruelty to animals. He is due for arraignment June 26.

Police seek theft suspects

Williston Police are seeking the identity of a woman they believe stole a cart filled with Dewalt tools valued at approximately $2,000 from Home Depot’s Williston store.

The woman allegedly pushed a cart full of the tools out of the store without paying about 2 p.m. May 12.

She then proceeded to Walmart, police said, where she was picked up by a green vehicle operated by an unidentified male.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call police at 878-6611.

Spear Street crash injures two

A two-car crash on Spear Street in Shelburne on Monday afternoon left two drivers injured and one car totalled.

Shelburne police reported that a Honda Accord driven by Ghita Orth, 80, of Shelburne was travelling south on Spear Street when it crossed the center line and struck a northbound Suburu Impreza driven by Joel Wolter, 27, of Hampton, N.H.

Orth’s vehicle travelled down an embankment before landing in a marsh area, police reported.

Traffic was down to one lane for nearly an hour as responders tended to the injured and removed the vehicles. Wolter was transported to UVM Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries.

The vehicle he was driving was a total loss. Orth was evaluated by Shelburne Rescue on the scene and declined transport to the hospital.

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