Report: Zanesville Man 'Distraught' Before Releasing Exotic Animals


UPDATED: Wednesday January 18, 2012 10:40 AM

A report released shed light on the circumstances leading up to the moment a man released 56 exotic animals before killing himself.

The Muskingum County Sheriff's Office released the entire file on the October incident to the Zanesville Times Recorder on Tuesday, 10TV's Glenn McEntyre reported.

The report includes first-hand accounts from deputies who were forced to shoot to kill the animals released by Terry Thompson.

"The bear turned in my direction and began to run at me," Deputy Jonathan Merry wrote. "I was able to draw my pistol and fire one shot, striking the bear which collapsed approximately 7 feet in front of me."

Another deputy described the discovery of Thompson's body, McEntyre reported.

"As we pulled closed, we could see that Terry Thompson was laying flat on his back with his pants pulled down to his ankles," the deputy wrote. "There was a handgun laying approximately 15 feet from where Terry Thompson was laying and also a pair of blue bolt cutters near the handgun."

The report also offered clues as to the turmoil Thompson battled before ultimately making a decision that would rock central Ohio and call national attention to exotic animal regulations.

Thompson was released from jail shortly before the incident. His probation officer said in the report that Thompson was distraught and overwhelmed with the farm's condition since he had returned home from prison, McEntyre reported.

The farm's caretaker, John Moore, said in the report that he spoke with Thompson the night before he died. Moore said that Thompson claimed to have received an upsetting letter about his wife, with whom his relationship had been strained.

In the report, Moore said that Thompson told him that he had a plan, and that he would "know it when it happens."

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is caring for the six surviving animals. The animals remain under quarantine ordered by the state.

Thompson's widow is trying to challenge the quarantine and reclaim the animals, McEntyre reported.

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