Show horse shot in Charles County
As a teenager, Kimberly Fullerton of Charles County had the dream, but not the pocketbook, to compete in world class equestrian events.
So in 2005, she bought the best horse she could afford after going to a local auction.
He was covered in fungus and not drawing attention. For about $1,000, Fullerton, then 17, walked out with Bender, a Morgan Horse. He cost less than the saddle she would use to ride him.
By 2010, Bender had developed into a national champion show horse and had accumulated enough points to be named 2010 Horse of the Year in his breed and division -- Road Hack -- as Fullerton, now 23, learned in late December. He competed under the name Sacred Paths Ice-T through the U.S. Equestrian Federation.
She and Bender didn't get to revel in that honor.
On Jan. 21, police say that someone using what appears to be a high-powered rifle shot Bender in the leg while he was waiting for breakfast in a field close to the road near Fullerton's family farm in Charlotte Hall in Charles County. Bender was euthanized that same day.
The shooting is being investigated by the Charles County Sheriff's Office, which said a preliminary investigation suggests the shooting was deliberate and not accidental, said sheriff's spokeswoman Diane Richardson. The Fullerton farm, known as the Fox Hollow Equestrian Center, is in a rural area in the 12500 block of Old Homeplace Drive, and the field is also is in a clear sight line from Trinity Church Road.
Since 2008, there have been two other similar incidents reported to the sheriff's office, Richardson said. Both horses survived -- one had been hit by a paintball gun and the other by an arrow.
Richardson said officials have not established a link among the incidents but are exploring that possibility, she said.
Bender was eight years old.
Fullerton discovered him lying in the field at about 10 a.m. Jan. 21, when she went to feed him. He was the last of her horses she fed each day and normally heard him greeting her as she headed towards him, she said.
She said she believes it was not a random act that killed Bender. "This is maliciousness," said Fullerton, who said she also has had other horses hit with buckshot in the last two years.
The Charles County Sheriff's Office is asking anyone with additional information to call (301) 932-2222. Callers wishing to remain anonymous may call Charles County Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS. A cash reward is being offered for the tip that leads to an arrest and indictment.
Mary Pat Flaherty
| February 4, 2011; 5:40 PM ET
Categories: Animal Stories, Charles, Mary Pat Flaherty, Maryland, Unsolved
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