Suspect arrested after rescue ranch ransacked and horses let out

rescue ranch vandalized
rescue ranch vandalized
Published: Jul. 14, 2022 at 9:37 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - O’Fallon Police arrested a 49-year-old suspect and charged him with causing damage to Randy’s Rescue Ranch in O’Fallon, Illinois. Gary Burkholder is charged with criminal trespassing, criminal damage to equipment and violating the Domestic Animals Running At Large Act. All are misdemeanors.

Sometime late Tuesday night and into the early morning hours of Wednesday, a man was seen on surveillance video ransacking parts of the property operated by the nonprofit organization, which rescues abused and neglected farm animals.

Rhonda Graham works at the ranch and was the first to be notified of the crimes.

“Well, my heart sank. I got the phone call about 5:30 in the morning. And I was just worried for the horses,” she said.

Four of the horses at the ranch were let out of their enclosures. Two of the horses were seen on surveillance video roaming around a nearby business in the middle of the night. The horses crossed Highway 50, which runs in front of the charity, putting the horses and any drivers on the road at risk.

“They could have been severely injured as well if not killed,” said Graham.

Two of the horses were a challenge to round up and during the process, the horses got dangerously close to Interstate 64. But the other two horses had already come home on their own.

“Jake’s 34 and he knows he’s got it good and he probably told Mabel ‘hey, we got to go back because it’s past my bedtime and I’m not up for this party life,’” said Graham.

The rescue ranch is 100 percent funded by donations and is accepting donations now to upgrade its security system.

Police believe Burkholder is from Indiana and was making his way to Florida. He’s listed as being homeless.