Caregiver releases book describing night exotic animals were released in Zanesville

Caregiver releases book describing night exotic animals were released in Zanesville

John Moore, former caretaker for Terry Thompson, has released a self-published book about Thompson's final days before releasing most of his exotic animals and them committing suicide in October, 2011.

ZANESVILLE — John Moore, along with the rest of the world, might never know why Zanesville resident Terry Thompson released almost his entire menagerie of exotic animals and then killed himself Oct. 18, 2011.

However, what Moore does know is that he misses Thompson’s companionship, friendship and wisdom.

That’s one reason Moore co-wrote “Eighteen Days to the Massacre,” a self-published book about the 18 days leading up to that night when almost 50 of the animals were killed by Muskingum County Sheriff’s deputies.

Six animals survived that night and were taken to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and placed under quarantine. Five of those animals were returned to Marian Thompson, Thompson’s widow, in 2012. One leopard was killed when a steel door dropped on its neck while it was being transferred from one cage to another.

Moore enlisted literary assistance from friend and counselor Teresa Headley, a counselor at Ohio University, to tell his side and memories of Thompson’s return from federal prison on gun charges and then the fateful days leading up to that night.

“I want people to know not just how Terry really was, but exactly happened that night,” Moore said. “I wanted the truth out.”

Moore discusses how distressed and easily distracted Thompson seemed to be when he returned from being in prison for almost a year. His accounts of what happened Oct. 18 are in contrast to official reports.

Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz told the Times Recorder this past week he ordered any animal that wasn’t on the Thompson property or attempting to leave the property to be put down.

Lutz, who was not up at the scene that night but was at a command post yards away, said that throughout the evening he learned there were some animals in cages that could not be secured and were a threat. Those animals also were put down.

Lutz has maintained from that night on that public safety was his main concern. He has been lauded for his actions that night by locals, state and national representatives.

Moore has a different version of what happened.

Moore writes that when he arrived at the Thompson farm that evening after receiving numerous phone calls saying animals were loose, he and a deputy went to the house and he moved two lions, Simba Jr. and Mufassa, out of the way before he and the deputy entered the home looking for Thompson.

Not finding Thompson, Moore writes he and the deputy exited the house and he noticed a pair of 15-month-old lionesses, one, Kenya, still in a cage. Moore says he locked that cage and chained it.

“She was terrified and crying as she looked me in the eye,” Moore states. “Imploring me to help her and make this better.”

Moore writes he saw Pooh, a bear, stuck in the swimming pool behind the house.

“It was like doing triage,” Moore writes. “Who do you help first?”

Then Moore discovered Thompson, lying behind a row of cages with a bullet to his head and a white tiger, Solomon, lying next to him.

The rest of the night blurred by with gunshots echoing as deputies killed animal after animal.

“The next thing I know the farm and the entire surrounding area is like a war zone,” Moore states. “Gunfire, animals crying out, Terry gone. I was instantly sick.”

Then Moore, who was at the gate of the property trying to tell Lutz and deputies how many animals were on the property, said he saw deputies headed for Kenya’s cage. He panicked, knowing he had locked her in, but also knew she was going to be killed.

“They killed her right in her cage,” Moore states. “I was sick, crying.”

Lutz said while he wasn’t actually on the farm during the shootings, he doesn’t think any of his deputies shot any animal locked in a cage.

“I rely on my deputies and their reports,” he said. “I don’t believe that or that any of my people would fabricate or leave out such an important detail. To my knowledge, no animal was shot that was locked up.”

Moore waffles between understanding why the animals were killed and thinking that maybe, “just maybe,” he could have saved some.

“In hindsight, can I change what happened?” Moore asks. “No. I believe Lutz did what he felt he had to do. I can’t imagine being in his shoes that night.”

The book also goes into detail how Moore misses Thompson, a close friend of almost 20 years.

“I wrote the book to not just get the truth out, but to tell people that Terry was a fun person. He loved to fly, he loved those animals. He taught me so much. I miss him every single day.”

Moore describes how Thompson, 62, bought a bike the day he was released from prison and rode it 85 miles to his house in the pouring rain, never once asking for assistance or help.

Moore and Headley take license with a postscript at the beginning of the book with Thompson describing that journey and a possible inside look into his emotional state.

“But we may never know exactly what Terry was thinking that day or the day he let them loose,” Moore said.

Headley said she became involved in the book after Moore persuaded her to help him write down his thoughts.

“John was very traumatized by what happened,” Headley said. “He was missing classes and depressed. I told him writing the book would be good for him emotionally.”

And since since assisting in the writing, Headley herself has a new understanding of exotic animal ownership.

“Do I think everyone should have one?” Headley said. “No.”


Now for the importance of this…GO to this link and read the comments!!!

Disclaimer connected to this blog…things written are of my opinion and the opinion of others…Stay tuned and follow this blog Best -B

~ by topcatsroar on January 28, 2013.

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