HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — More than three weeks after Hanover County Animal Control removed 85 animals and discovered several other deceased animals at a Mechanicsville property, a suspect has yet to be charged, and court documents have been obtained by 8News revealing new details about what authorities found when they searched the site.

On Tuesday, Aug. 9, Animal Control officers executed a search warrant for alleged animal cruelty on Mattawan Trail. The affidavit for that search warrant revealed that a Hanover County Animal Control officer responded to a call for service at the property the previous day, Monday, Aug. 8. But that wasn’t the first time authorities responded to the area.

A county spokesperson confirmed that authorities had previously been called to the property on Mattawan Trail approximately 160 times since 2019. 8News submitted a legal request for information on these previous cases, as well as the Aug. 9 removal of animals, to both the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office and Animal Control. The request was denied by both offices, citing the ongoing investigation. However, in doing so, the respondent noted that Hanover County Animal Control was in possession of “approximately 322 photographs, which were created during the time period from July 2019 to May 2022.”

Henry District Supervisor Sean Davis addressed residents’ concerns about why the animals were not seized during one of those prior calls during the Board of Supervisors meeting on Wednesday.

“A lot of information has come out where folks in the county have been concerned,” he said. “Over the years, there’ve been about 160 calls for service, not to include the calls for service that I’ve initiated with [Animal Control] Chief [Jeffrey] Parker and even other Board members, and everything that was investigated on that property at the time was rectified up to the point that the law allowed. Early August, some animals escaped from the property, and Animal Control very quickly got to the property, were able to put the animals back inside the property, and, at that point, had the ability to look inside the barn and noticed that there were deceased animals.”

Details contained within the search warrant affidavit confirmed that information:

On August 8th, 2022, Officer Camacho was dispatched to Rural Point Road and Mattawan Trail in regards to multiple Livestock Animals running at Large. Upon arrival Officer Camacho observed a red and white male longhorn, a black male cow, and injured Scottish black face ram (sheep) in the neighbor’s yard, (6595 Mattawan Trail) Officer Camacho called property and livestock owner (as she has observed these animals multiple times on Mr. Ewing’s property) Franklin Roosevelt Ewing approximately 10 times, via phone call and twice via text to no avail. Upon attempting to corral both the observed livestock and the escaped pony and two horses, from out of the roadway, almost causing at least two car accidents, Officer Camacho came upon at least one bag with a deceased small goat or sheep poking out of a black garbage bag in the middle of the pasture, and while closing the barn that the pony or horses had exited from. Officer Camacho observed a freshly deceased (rig a mortis) sheep in the middle of the barn, and multiple bags or deceased animals and bones, poking out of black trash bags and a decomposing dead goat.

The material facts constituting probable cause for the search, as noted in the search warrant affidavit

Contrary to what the responding Animal Control officer noted, Ewing is not listed as the property owner in official county records. However, he is considered to be the owner of the animals.

The search warrant affidavit went on to describe, in detail, how the responding Animal Control officer retrieved and secured the animals. Later, Ewing’s son arrived at the property and spoke with authorities, stating that his father was hospitalized due to a severe case of COVID-19.

“I was just informed that my father has not been taking care of the animals here, and from what I see, it really doesn’t look like he’s taking care of them at all,” Ewing’s son stated, according to the service call notes.

Although Ewing has not been charged with an offense relating to the Aug. 9 removal of animals, court records show that he faced legal action for prior crimes related to the care of animals:

  • Inadequate care of agricultural animals | Hanover County | May 19, 2022 offense | Case ongoing
  • Inadequate care of agricultural animals | Hanover County | May 9, 2022 offense | Case ongoing
  • Inadequate care of agricultural animals | Hanover County | May 9, 2022 offense | Case ongoing
  • Inadequate care of agricultural animals | Hanover County | May 9, 2022 offense | Guilty in abstentia, but case appealed
  • Inadequate care of agricultural animals | Hanover County | May 9, 2022 offense | Guilty in abstentia, but case appealed
  • Livestock running at large | Hanover County | April 21, 2021 offense | Guilty
  • Livestock running at large | Hanover County | April 21, 2021 offense | Guilty
  • Inadequate care of agricultural animals | Hanover County | March, 21, 2021 | Guilty
  • Inadequate care of agricultural animals | Hanover County | March, 21, 2021 | Guilty
  • Animal running at large | Hanover County | Feb. 18, 2021 offense | Guilty in abstentia
  • Animal running at large | Hanover County | Feb. 18, 2021 offense | Guilty in abstentia
  • Animal running at large | Hanover County | Feb. 18, 2021 offense | Guilty in abstentia
  • Cruelty to animals | Caroline County | Aug. 28, 2020 offense | Guilty
  • Cruelty to animals | Caroline County | Aug. 28, 2020 offense | Case ongoing
  • Cruelty to animals | Caroline County | Aug. 28, 2020 offense | Case ongoing
  • Cruelty to animals | Caroline County | Aug. 28, 2020 offense | Case ongoing
  • Inadequate care of agricultural animals | Hanover County | July 16, 2020 offense | Guilty
  • Inadequate care of agricultural animals | Hanover County | July 16, 2020 offense | Guilty
  • Animal running at large | Hanover County | Feb. 26, 2020 offense | Guilty in abstentia
  • Animal running at large | Hanover County | Feb. 26, 2020 offense | Guilty in abstentia
  • Animal running at large | Hanover County | Feb. 26, 2020 offense | Guilty in abstentia
  • Animal running at large | Hanover County | Feb. 26, 2020 offense | Guilty in abstentia
  • Animal running at large | Hanover County | Feb. 26, 2020 offense | Guilty in abstentia

Residents who lived nearby where the animals were kept in Mechanicsville told 8News that they called Hanover County Animal Control on multiple occasions, concerned about the welfare of the animals.

“It’s been a very long time coming,” Janice Zeigler said. “The neighbors and I have called and called, and I realized that you can’t necessarily break the law in making him do something. But we just never saw any improvement. In fact, it just got worse and worse.”

Zeigler said she attempted to feed the animals several times.

“I hope that whatever charges they can get for this horrific situation will allow him to never, ever be able to own another animal — whether it’s agriculture, domestic — regardless,” she said. “The charges that he has racked up in other counties concern me because they go back several years, and for somebody to repeatedly be able to evade […] the law and not have any consequences was very, very disturbing.”