THAWVILLE, Ill. (WAND) - The founder of a Thawville-based nonprofit animal sanctuary is facing an animal cruelty charge after hundreds of animal carcasses were found in shallow graves last summer.
The News Gazette reports newly unsealed Iroquois County Circuit Court records show a felony charge was filed against Corinne DiLorenzo. She was the founder of the now-dissolved nonprofit Earth Advocates, also known as the Earth Animal Sanctuary.
An Iroquois County grand jury said they believed DiLorenzo of “intentionally caused the death of multiple companion animals, including dogs, cats, pigs, rabbits, birds, goats, raccoons and turtles.”
DiLorenzo was arrested Christmas Eve and released after posting 10 percent of her $10,000 bond.
She is scheduled to be in court at 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 23.
You can see more pictures from what was found at the sanctuary HERE, but we do warn you some of the images are graphic.
Last summer, the carcasses of hundreds of animals that had been rescued and surrendered to Earth Advocates were found at the sanctuary’s property at 109 S.W. Park St. in Thawville, the News Gazette reports.
A former board member for the Earth Animal Sanctuary, and two others visited the property and posted on the sanctuary's Facebook page that what they found was, “nothing short of a horror story."
“There was an oblong-shaped ditch filled with bag upon bag upon bag of the remains of dead animals,” Pena wrote. “There were the remains of pigs that had been dragged out on a tarp or blanket and dumped in the hole. We saw skulls and bones of large pigs, medium-sized pigs, goats of various ages, cats, dogs, birds/waterfowl and rabbits. There were small bags inside of larger garbage bags as well as bags that contained multiple species of animals. We saw various states of decomposition. There were layers of animals, and after about an hour of ripping through bags with my hands, I couldn’t do anymore. I know that I have never thrown any of the animals I have ever loved in a ditch like they were trash,” Pena said.
During a follow up visit, more carcasses were found. There were no live animals on the property.
Close to 700 animals given to the sanctuary have been either found dead or are still missing, said Jodie Wiederkehr, executive director of the Chicago Alliance for Animals.
The Iroquois County Sheriff's Office started investigating the sanctuary following a suspicious fire there in September 2018. Pigs, ducks, geese and chickens died in the fire. Complaints had come into the sheriff's office about the welfare the animals on the property.
A police report shows DiLorenzo’s ex-fiance told investigators about six months prior to the fire that animals started dying off for unknown reasons.
Investigators said when they searched DiLorenzo’s home, where multiple animals were being kept, they found unsanitary conditions. She was ordered to clean the area and make returns before her son would be allowed to come back and live with her.
She was also issued a “humane care” citation after finding two malnourished pigs with skin issues that may have been caused by straw mites.
If convicted, DiLorenzo faces probation to up to three years in prison.
DiLorenzo has denied claims that she abused or neglected animals.