2 arrested on animal cruelty charges out of East Prairie | Crime
MISSISSIPPI COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - Mississippi County Sheriff Keith Moore says two former Mississippi County residents have been arrested after a multifaceted investigation.
Jennifer Steverson, 35, and Chad E. Steverson, 36, both of Miner, were charged with felony theft/stealing, property damage and two counts of animal abuse.
According to Moore, the investigation began last week when a deputy was dispatched to meet with a local real estate company about issues at a rental property in East Prairie, Mo. When the deputy arrived, he was told the tenants, Chad and Jennifer Steverson, had abandoned a pair of dogs when they moved out earlier this year.
Deputies say there was no food for the malnourished animals, and both of them were covered with fleas. They say the poorly ventilated house reeked from the urine and feces that covered the floor, and the entire building was infested with fleas and other vermin.
According to the owner, a refrigerator and oven provided for the tenants use was also missing from the home.
After their arrest, Jennifer Steverson told deputies the dogs had lived alone in the house for roughly two months. She also said she knew the poorly ventilated and increasingly urine soaked house was flea infested and not suitable for animal life.
When asked about the stolen appliances, Chad and Jennifer Steverson both acknowledged taking, but claimed to own, the appliances.
Upon further questioning from deputies, they say the couple offered significantly different stories on how the items were acquired, and then one of the pair conceded the property was taken to be sold as scrap metal.
According to the sheriff's department, one of the rescued animals, a Doberman Pinscher turned over to a Cape Girardeau animal shelter, was deemed unfit for adoption and was euthanized.
"Animal cruelty cases sometimes stir debate about what constitutes abuse," Sheriff Moore said. "But in the present case, Deputy Hutcheson's investigation made that answer clear."
"This was more than an act of abuse," added Deputy Cory Hutcheson. "These poor animals endured prolonged cruelty and suffering."
The sheriff's department would like to caution would-be destructive renters that criminal prosecution is possible for tenants who cause intentional damage to rented property.
Chad and Jennifer Steverson were released from custody Friday afternoon after posting $2,500 surety bonds. All subjects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in court.
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