UPDATE 12/23/19: Six more horses were found shot and killed since our original article on the incident in Kentucky from last Friday, according to USA Today. The horses appear to have been killed during the same shooting as the 15 horses that were discovered last week along U.S. 23.
The reward amount has also increased since last Friday's article. At this point, there is a $20,000 reward being offered for information leading to an arrest in the incident. The reward money includes contributions from various animal rescue and welfare organizations and individual donors.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE FROM 12/20/2019:
Fifteen horses have been shot and killed in the woods in Eastern Kentucky near the Floyd County and Pike County border, according to NPR.
Earlier in the week, 14 horses were found shot to death at the site of an abandoned strip mine, authorities said. In a report from CNN on Wednesday, Tonya Conn, president of the nearby rescue group Dumas Rescue, said that the horses were found scattered along US 23.
"I've been doing rescues since 2004," Conn said to CNN. "We see a lot of starvation and a lot of cruelty, but that was the most horrific scene I've ever been on. Just cold-blooded malice."
The discovery began on Monday, when an area resident who lives near the strip mining site reported that a number of his horses had been found dead after exiting a fenced-in area, Floyd County Sheriff John Hunt said to CNN. After the report, the sheriff’s office visited the site and discovered the other victims.
Some of the horses that were found dead were said to be members of a wild herd and the others belonged to local residents. Among the victims were two colts and two pregnant mares. Hunt told CNN that the sheriff’s office suspects that there may have been additional horses killed.
Thirty or more horses have roamed the area for years, according to NPR. One of the areas of land that the horses use is owned by local resident Mary Goble and her family.
"There's a lot of people within our community that go up there and feed them or just go see them or whatever, because, I mean, it's beautiful back there and it's a bunch of horses running," Goble told NPR. "I've done rescue for a long time. I've seen some pretty bad things. This was different. This was a very large act of evil, for lack of a better term."
The Floyd County Sheriff’s department posted this message on their Facebook page regarding the Kentucky horse shootings on Thursday morning:
According to The Washington Post, as of Thursday evening there is a reward of upwards of $15,000 being offered to whoever provides information leading to an arrest. This includes a $5,000 reward from The Humane Society of the United States, a number of local and national contributions, and even $500 offered by Hunt himself.
"It has been heartbreaking seeing these beautiful horses killed but it had equally been heartwarming to see all the concerns and see all the support in assisting in the investigation and to give the living horses a good home,” The sheriff’s department stated. “Thank you to everyone."