Cruelty Suspect Ordered To Pay For Upkeep Of Seized Animals

By: Bill Wilson/Heather King
By: Bill Wilson/Heather King

A man accused of animal cruelty has now been ordered by a judge to pay for the upkeep of the seized animals for the next 30.

A Wayne County judge issued that ruling Thursday in a civil case the county brought against Lawton McKenzie.

Twenty-six animals were removed from McKenzie's Fremont home last month after animal control officers received a complaint. Authorities say they found dismembered animals, a machete, knives, bowls of blood and what appeared to be a decapitated puppy's head in a zip-lock bag.

The judge ordered McKenzie to post $8460 necessary for the animal's upkeep within five days. If he fails to do that he automatically forfeits the animals currently in the county's care.

McKenize Speaks Out

Fremont, NC - A man accused of animal cruelty says those charges are blown out of proportion after authorities found dozens of dismembered animals on his property.

Lawton McKenzie spoke with WITN's Ken Heineck at his Fremont home, just a day after getting out of jail.

"What society is saying is it's wrong for me to eat a chicken I've raised but it's alright for me to go buy from the store, I don't see what's the sense," McKenzie told WITN.

McKenzie says he is studying taxidermy and that some of the animals authorities discovered were those found by him along the side of the road.

Authorities said they discovered knives, a machete and bowls of blood when they visited McKenzie's home in Fremont last month. Investigators also found dead dogs, goats, sheep, owls and other animals.

McKenzie tells WITN that he butchered goats and ate them for food, while he also raises chickens for their eggs and food.

Born in Jamaica, he says he grew up around a culture of people butchering their own meat for food. "What makes me different from you just because I, I'm not afraid to go clean my own food up. Maybe I should...get my hunter's permit and just shoot my own, just shoot the goat first."

McKenzie says a puppy's head found in a zip-lock bag was actually that of a dead fox.

The Fremont man tells WITN that he has always complied with previous animal control requests to care for his animals and had wanted to turn his property into a animal learning center for children.

"II see dead foxes all the time, I see dead owls...other people don't pay attention to that stuff, but I do. I think it could be a learning tool," says McKenzie

McKenzie is free on bond from the animal cruelty charges and says he was fired from his job this morning at the Fremont Rest Home.

McKenzie Out On Bond

Authorities say a man who had dozens of dismembered animals at his eastern North Carolina home has been released on bond.

Wayne County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Ellen Grice said Lawton McKenzie, 28, of Fremont, was released on bond. A judge set the bond at $3,000.

The sheriff's office says McKenzie only faces misdemeanor animal cruelty charges because authorities cannot prove he killed the animals. McKenzie told deputies he cut up the animals after they died. Captain Tom Effler says mutilating a dead animal is only a misdemeanor in North Carolina.

McKenzie's next scheduled court date is February 10.

Previous Story

Lawton McKenzie, 28, of Fremont was taken into custody Tuesday afternoon and faces three charges of animal cruelty.

Animal control officers say they found a revolting scene at his Wayne County home. They say they discovered dismembered animals and what appeared to be a decapitated puppy's head in a zip-lock bag.

Animal control director Justin Scally says they removed 26 living animals from the home. "It was the most horrific, disturbing case that I have ever investigated" Scally said. "What we saw I don't think I will ever forget for the rest of my life."

When officers arrived they also found a dying goat which was rushed to a veterinarian's office where they were able to save the animal. They also found a machete, knives and bowls of blood.

Scally says they also discovered the remains of a decapitated dog with it's front paws cut off, dead puppies, dead snakes, a dead turtle, and what appeared to be a goat's head on a grill.

"Some of the animals were being burned on what appeared to be a home-made grill of sorts" Scally said.

Lawmen say McKenzie told them that he was studying taxidermy and using the animal bones for necklaces.

Investigators say they went to the man's home after receiving a complaint. Their investigation began in early December and Scally says more charges are possible.

Wayne County on Tuesday filed a civil complaint against McKenzie, requiring him to pay for the upkeep of the animals seized. The county also wants McKenzie to post funds to the Clerk of Court, ensuring that the animals are taken care of for an additional 30 days.

McKenzie was arrested Christmas for unrelated charges and bonded out of jail. Authorities say when they went to his home Monday night to arrest him on the animal cruelty charges he could not be found.

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