TERRE HAUTE —
A judge found probable cause for the Thursday afternoon arrest of a Marion Heights couple who face 24 felony counts of animal neglect and two counts of child neglect.
More criminal charges are possible relating to the neglect of an elderly woman residing in the home on U.S. 150 with Kenneth and Tracy Walling and their two small children.
Judge John Roach set the couple’s bail at $25,000 cash only and ordered them to return to court Wednesday for a hearing on formal criminal charges. Deputy Prosecutor Raeanna Moore said charges could include two counts of class-D felony child neglect and 24 counts of class-A misdemeanor animal neglect.
Police removed two dozen animals — including several small dogs, two cats and a parrot — from the home Thursday.
Testifying in an initial probable cause hearing Friday morning, Deputy Dayton Huebner of the Vigo County Sheriff’s Department reported that he went to the home in the 2300 block of U.S. 150 to investigate an animal complaint, and because a Kenneth Walling was wanted on a warrant for failure to appear in court.
Huebner said as officers approached the home, a foul odor was apparent. When Kenneth Walling responded to knocks at the door, he acknowledged the warrant and was arrested. Huebner said Walling also said the house was dirty due to the dogs inside. When Tracy Walling went outside to talk to police, Huebner said, he smelled a stench on her as well, and he asked about the children and older woman living there.
“It was quite evident the occupants were walking through the animal feces on the floor as it was smeared,” the deputy said, noting that animal feces was also present on the two minor children.
Tracy Walling was then arrested for neglect of a dependent and the children were removed from the residence by the Department of Child Services. The 74-year-old woman residing there was taken to a relative’s home. The Vigo County Health Department tagged the home as unfit for human habitation. And the live animals at the property were transported to the Terre Haute Humane Society animal shelter.
Huebner said that several of the animals were in need of medical care. Three dead dogs were found in a cage in the basement in various stages of decomposition.
The Wallings were cited for several county ordinance violations, including neglect/cruelty to animals, no breeder’s permit, failure to provide veterinary care, failure to register aimals, improper disposal of dead animals, animals running at large, and noxious odors. Those citations were rolled into the animal neglect charges.
Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.