A man was arrested July 3 in connection with the January death of a horse in Rescue.
An investigation was launched after Trumpet, a 35-year-old Arabian Gelding, was found impaled on a pointed rod fence in the Jay Hawk Cemetery, across the street from High Heart Ranch where the horse was stabled, the Mountain Democrat previously reported. The horse, it was believed, was stolen from the ranch and died while under control of whomever stole it.
The rescue community put up flyers and a large metal reward poster at the cemetery. The tips that came from the community, a press release said, helped investigators close the case.
On May 16, an unrelated investigation began after reports of horse theft and sexual assault on a horse were made. Bryon Baker, 56, a transient from the Cameron Park and Rescue areas, was identified by multiple witnesses. Investigators linked him to the death of Trumpet.
A probation search of Baker’s motor home on July 3 led to the seizure of items of evidence connecting Baker to both incidents. Baker was subsequently arrested on charges of grand theft of a horse, cruelty to animals causing suffering and/or death, attempted theft of a second horse and sexual assault on the second horse.
Christine Hightower, Trumpet’s owner, gave her overview of the case in an e-mail to the Mountain Democrat: “In the early morning hours of Jan. 30, 2013, between 2 a.m. and 5:30 a.m., Trumpet was lured out of the safety and security of his barn, at High Heart Ranch. He was then led across the street to the Jay Hawk Cemetery where he was terrified, tortured and killed by the man arrested by (El Dorado County Sheriff’s deputies) on July 3, 2013.”
An effort was made to find the person responsible. “Reward signs and posters were prepared, purchased and distributed solely by Bill and Becky Carpenter of Merritt Construction, Inc.” The Carpenters and Lyndell and Darria Deatherage of Deatherage Construction donated the money for a reward. They were also solely responsible for distributing the flyers and posters, which, along with the “unyielding efforts of Detective Netashia Gallagher,” led to Baker’s arrest.
Hightower wrote, “From the road, Trumpet’s killer was able to watch him grazing on the Heart-Shaped Pasture during the days and through the lighted barn windows, during the night. Trumpet’s killer was unnaturally obsessed with his beauty and presence and acted with complete abandonment of all that is good and natural. Trumpet was killed by a sexual deviant who committed multiple acts of violence and cruelty on one of God’s most beloved creatures, a kind and gentle horse.”
The arrest does little to ease Hightower’s mind, but is at least a first step towards grieving and recovery.
“The arrest will not erase the permanent scarring in my mind, left from the images of Trumpet’s tortured body,” she wrote. “The arrest will not erase my personal knowledge of what and how he suffered. I will carry the burden of those memories to my grave. That said, and God willing, this arrest will start me on the road to recovering peace of mind for the safety and security of my home and beloved animals.”
She would prefer to remember better times. “I do not want Trumpet to be remembered for what he suffered but for the wonderful life he lived here at High Heart Ranch, for over 30 years,” she said.
Trumpet was retired from trail riding for about four years, due to his age. “His daily activities consisted of grazing on his Heart-Shaped Pasture and to greeting and comforting the many lost, roaming and neglected animals that came to his barn from EDC Animal Services for care, comfort and protection,” Hightower stated. Some of the impounds included a baby pig, Newt, and a baby sheep, Bobbi. Trumpet, Hightower wrote, would stand guard while the smaller animals napped in the pasture. The horse would lead the other animals out, encouraging them to graze in the pasture.
“I knew that he would be leaving us soon but was ready, when that time came, to stand with him and stay with him, until his spirit passed ‘gently and sweetly,’” she mused. “I was denied the privilege of ‘standing with him’ and for that my heart will be forever broken.”
Contact Cole Mayer at 530-344-5068 or [email protected] Follow @CMayerMtDemo.