Who is responsible for a fire that killed over 60 dogs?
In Bonne Terre, Missouri, Mabel Woods had dedicated many years of her life running an animal sanctuary on a sprawling 110 acre farm. The sanctuary provided a loving and caring home for dogs that might otherwise have been impounded. She even built a $60,000 kennel to house her 115 dogs. The dogs were offered for adoption, but those that didn’t find new homes lived out their lives on the sanctuary. Mabel felt the farm was in an ideal location because her nearest neighbors were over a mile away and would not be disturbed by the dogs.
But eighteen months after she moved to the farm, Mabel’s peaceful life was shattered. One the night of December 11, 1986, someone broke into her kennel. The intruder fired at least four rounds from a .22 caliber rifle, killing two dogs and seriously wounding two others. Mabel was devastated:
Police officials investigated the shooting. But because the killing of an animal is only a misdemeanor, the case was given a low priority. After the shooting, Mabel hired a man named Charlie Jacobs to help out around the kennel. Charlie moved into the guesthouse and doubled as a hired hand and night watchman. For two months, nothing unusual happened. Mabel and Charlie settled into a comfortable routine.
Then on the night of February 10, 1987, Charlie was in his kitchen when he noticed a bright orange glow through the window. Fifty yards away, the kennel was on fire. By the time Charlie reached the kennel, it was completely engulfed in flames. Inside were 60 dogs. According to Charlie, the animals had no way to escape:
Charlie managed to pull one dog from the flames, but could do nothing to save the others. The fire was so intense that it set off smoke alarms in homes over a mile away. According to Mabel, there was no reason for the kennel to burn:
Four days after the blaze, the local volunteer fire department began an investigation, headed by investigator Charlie Geesing:
“Spalling” occurs when a flammable substance is ignited on concrete. According to Charlie Geesing, the extreme heat causes the concrete to crack or erode:
Once it was determined that arson was the cause of the fire, police officials joined the investigation. One hundred yards from where the kennel once stood, police found a tire track in the mud. They made a plaster mold of the track. According to Sheriff Jack Cade of the St. Francis County Sheriff’s Department, the plaster mold and spalling pattern burned into the kennel floor are the only evidence police have in this case:
Within ten months of the fire, Mabel had built a new kennel. She is still haunted by the memory of that tragic night and fears that whoever was responsible may strike again at any time. The person who burned down Mabel’s kennel has never been caught and the case is still open.