RICHLAND COUNTY, SC (WIS) - A Richland County man has been charged with 24 counts of ill treatment to animals after deputies serving an eviction found dead animals in his apartment.
Kurt Hafner, 36, was arrested Wednesday. Investigators said Hafner is a staff sergeant stationed at Fort Jackson.
The Richland County Sheriff's Department charged Hafner after the animals were discovered in an apartment on Meredith Square, which is across the street from Richland Northeast High School, while on April 10. Investigators found a 15-18 pound Beagle mix, one bearded dragon, two alligator snapping turtles and a variety of snakes, including extremely venomous ones, all dead in the home.
According to Sheriff Leon Lott, investigators determined Hafner abandoned the animals in the home without food and water since February.
Investigator Joseph Clarke said it is the worst animal cruelty case he's ever seen.
"This home was in disarray, to say the least," Clarke said. "There was a lot of fecal matter from the K-9 that we found deceased. There was personal papers, residual ammunition, and personal property belonging to the suspect. The house was in tremendously bad shape with a really bad odor of decomposition."
Snake experts from All Things Wild assisted in locating the dead animals.
"He had actually posted something on the door that said venomous snakes, this was during a regular check of the air condition filters. At that point, it voided his lease. That's when we discovered at least 24 deceased animals. Twenty-three were reptiles. Bearded dragon, albino, boa constrictors, eastern diamondback rattle snakes and we did find one deceased dog that was in a bad state of decomposition."
Hafner was taken into custody at Fort Jackson after the sheriff's department made contact with his chain of command.