The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

April 23, 2014

Man sentenced for burning wife’s cats

By Brandi Underwood
Register-Herald Reporter

— A Fayette County man who had previously pleaded guilty to three felony animal cruelty charges, was sentenced Tuesday before Fayette County Circuit Court Judge John Hatcher.

Michael Wayne Ford, 56, of Victor, was arrested in October on seven counts of felony animal cruelty connected to his alleged burning of four cats and eight kittens belonging to his wife, Robin.

State Police Trooper John Syner responded to Ford’s residence on Oct. 21 after emergency dispatchers alerted law enforcement officers that Ford had allegedly boxed up 12 cats and thrown them into an open fire on his property.     

When Syner got to the scene, he was met by Justin Steele, Michael Ford’s stepson. Steele said that he saw his mother, Robin, crying when he got home, the report stated.

Steele told Syner that his mother claimed that Ford boxed up her cats and threw them into the fire. Steele said he ran to the fire and heard the cats crying, but wasn’t able to get them out, according to the criminal complaint.

Syner then investigated the fire pit and was able to observe what appeared to be the remains of four large cats and three kittens in the fire, the complaint stated.

According to the criminal complaint, Robin told the officer that Ford was complaining about the cats earlier that day. She said she saw him start the fire, but didn’t know what was burning until she walked over and observed the box in which she kept her cats in the fire, the report said.

Robin stated that she was unable to pull the box out due to the size of the fire, the complaint said.

Police were only able to recover the remains of seven cats. Ford was charged with seven counts of felony animal cruelty, but pleaded guilty in February to three counts of felony animal cruelty.

Ford was sentenced Tuesday to confinement in the West Virginia State Penitentiary for one to five years for each count of felony animal cruelty. He was also assessed a $1,000 fine.

Hatcher ordered that the sentences be served consecutively, resulting in up to 15 years in prison.

— E-mail: bunderwood@register-herald.com