MARLOW — A woman was found dead Friday, another woman is in jail accused of killing her as well as for animal cruelty charges for a suspected Stephens County puppy mill.
Stephens County Sheriff’s Deputies conducting a welfare check at the home at 2496 N. U.S. 81 in Marlow made several disturbing discoveries, according to Sheriff Wayne McKinney.
“It was quite the evening,” he said.
Investigators conducted the check at the home after a caller reported hearing a conversation about someone possibly being injured or killed, according to the sheriff.
The body of Ashley Nicole Anderson, 31, was found in an outbuilding. Her body has been taken to the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Oklahoma City to determine cause and manner of death. McKinney said information had been received that Anderson had been “run over and, possibly, put into a house.”
Deputies found hundreds of dogs living in “deplorable” conditions. After receiving a search warrant for the property, investigators found Anderson. She is believed to have lived at the same address and may have been there to help with the dogs, he said.
The 49-year-old woman who owns the property was arrested at the scene for allegations of murder and animal cruelty. McKinney said she denied hurting Anderson, who worked for her and was listed as living at the same address. It’s believed her body was stored for days.
“We think the crime took place, either, late-Tuesday or Wednesday morning,” he said. “We’ve got the right person.”
The suspect is expected to make her initial appearance in court on Tuesday.
Hundreds of dogs were found at the scene and the property had the appearance of being a puppy mill, McKinney said. A puppy mill is described by the American Human Society as an inhumane high-volume dog breeding facility that churns out puppies for profit, ignoring the needs of the pups and their mothers.
“There were way in excess of 200 puppies and dogs, could be up to 300,” he said. “There was an odor so strong you couldn’t stand it. It’s one of the worst I’ve seen, I’ve never seen one to this magnitude.”
The Stephens County Humane Society (SCHS) was called in to assist with relocating the dogs to safety. Most were removed by Friday night and the rest on Saturday. McKinney said investigators from the national Humane Society have offered invaluable assistance.
“The conditions were deplorable,” he said.
Most of the dogs were fed well, according to McKinney, but several had diseases and, even with the freezing temperatures of late, fleas and ticks were rampant. It didn’t look like the kennels had been cleaned in ages. Urine and feces were everywhere, including inside the house, he said.
McKinney praised the many people from Stephens County who came together to help. Farmers and ranchers donated hay to make bedding and wind blocks for the animals who remained at the scene overnight Friday. Many more returned Saturday to help the animals onto their next step to recovery.
“We’ve had tremendous support for the animals,” he said. “I can’t say enough about the members of the community who showed their compassion.”
According to a statement released by the SCHS late-Saturday afternoon, all of the animals are being processed and evaluated before transferal to the Humane Society of Tulsa where they will be cared for and some nursed back to health before finding their forever homes. None of the dogs will be available for adoption.