GATES, Tenn. -- A Ripley police investigator was charged after horses he owns were found malnourished.
Some of the neighbors who live in the area say the condition of the horses was so bad that they would come outside to feed the horses. They described the animals as breathing skeletons.
"Bad shape, rib bones showing, hip bone showing, close to verge of death,” said Jeremy Ray of Gates.
Several of those horses Ray is talking about are on oxygen, and some can barely stand.
Members of the American Humane Association's Red Star group even stepped in to help after a request from the district attorney in Fayette County.
"I'm surprised that anybody would do that. I can't stand to see anything go hungry, that's just not right,” said Ann Crowder of Gates.
The horses were taken to a facility where they'll be fed and get the medical treatment they need.
Some people said they were surprised the animals survived this long.
“That was cruel I think,” Ruby Davis said.
The horses owner, James Crook, now faces six counts of animal cruelty. Since Crook was a police investigator for the Ripley police department, the Lauderdale County judge recused herself and a Crockett County judge will hear the case.
"Sad, you shouldn't have no horses if you can't take care of them,” Ray said.
This isn't the first time Red Star has been called out to the area. Earlier this year, nearly 20 starving horses and a mule were rescued.
Neighbors say this case of animal cruelty is the most disturbing one they've seen.
Crook can’t have any contact with the horses or any animals while the case is pending. He will be back in court on the charges in September.