More than a dozen horses and three dogs are dead after authorities say they were most likely neglected by their owner.
The SBI is investigating the animal deaths on Tram Road in Duplin County.
Sheriff's officials say when they went to arrest the animals' owner Clifford Jacobs, he took his own life.
Sheriff Blake Wallace says his office was called last summer about the animals and he says they were underweight but did not appear to be without food or water.
Wallace says his department was called again Friday night and that the animals looked emaciated.
He said there was feed and water still available. But when authorities went to Jacobs' home Sunday to check on the animals' more than half of them had died.
Sheriff's officials say Jacobs had a criminal history of assaulting officers and had access to several firearms.
About 10 horses were rescued from the property.