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Ohio man who released exotic animals had "plan": report

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 19, 2012 4:54 PM
Ohio man who released exotic animals had "plan": report

By Kim Palmer

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - The man who set off a panic in Ohio last October by releasing dozens of dangerous wild animals including lions and tigers, had told an employee before the incident that he suspected his wife of cheating and that he "had a plan."

According to the final report from the Muskingum County Sheriff's Office, released Wednesday, Terry Thompson told his farm manager, John Moore, that he had received a letter that his wife, Marian Thompson, had cheated on him while he was in prison.

Moore told investigators Thompson said, "I have a plan to find out and you will know it when it happens," after Moore denied knowing about Marian's infidelity. The next day the animals were released and Thompson's body was found with a gunshot wound to the head and "signs of animal feeding."

The sheriff's report gives a detailed account of the events in Zanesville, Ohio on October 18 that left 48 animals dead, including several rare Bengal tigers. The animals were shot and killed by sheriff's deputies. Six animals were captured and are being held in quarantine at the Columbus Zoo.

Thompson had been charged with possessing illegal firearms in 2008 and served a year in prison. He was released September 30, 2011.

Joe Moore, Thompson's federal probation officer, was quoted in the report as saying Thompson was "overwhelmed" with the farm's condition when he returned from prison.

The Ohio legislature is expected to vote on a new law restricting exotic animal ownership before the end of the year.

(Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Greg McCune)