2 Accused of Dousing Deer with Gas, Setting It On Fire

Animal cruelty charges: Authorities believe they lit the deer on fire after they struck it with their car.

Suspects Mark Shepherd (left) and Christopher Hodges. (Indiana DNR Facebook images)

Two men are facing animal cruelty charges stemming from a February incident in which they allegedly set a deer on fire after hitting it with their car on an Indiana highway.

The Fulton County Sheriff's Department said on Facebook that the second suspect, Mark Shepherd, 20, turned himself in Friday morning and was charged with torturing or mutilating a wild animal, a level 6 felony.

Indiana DNR conservation officers served a warrant on March 29 to the other suspect, Christopher Hodges, 18, on the same charge, according to the agency's Facebook page.

Hodges was booked into the Fulton County jail and has since posted bond. Shepherd was awaiting a hearing Friday morning, according to the sheriff's office.

The arrests and charges were the results of a joint investigation between the sheriff's office and the DNR.

According to a Fulton County Sheriff''s press release:

On Feb. 16, Fulton County 911 received a phone call from a citizen traveling on SR 25 around the area of CR 400N, Rochester, that advised there was an injured deer in the roadway.

Deputies arrived at the location and observed a deer on the east side of the roadway. The deer appeared to have been struck by a vehicle and then set on fire. The deer was still alive, and smoldering. During the course of the investigation it is believed that Christopher K. Hodges and Shepherd were traveling on SR 25 in a red 1994 Camaro when they struck the deer.

They turned around and went back to the deer where they found it to be still alive. It is believed the parties poured gasoline on the deer, set it on fire and left the area. A period of time later, a passerby noticed the deer and contacted law enforcement.

In its press release, the Indiana DNR said officers were forced to put the animal down to end its suffering.

Authorities ask anyone with any additional info on the case should contact the Fulton County Sheriff's Department Crime Stoppers at 223-7867 or Indiana Conservation Officers Turn in a Poacher Line at 1-800-TIP-IDNR (or online http://www.in.gov/dnr/lawenfor/2745.htm). As with any report of the illegal taking of wildlife, callers can remain anonymous and they may receive a reward for any information leading to the arrest of a wildlife violator.

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