Former coworkers say woman charged with animal neglect struggled to take care of horses

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — WREG is learning more about a Millington couple charged with animal cruelty, including that the woman charged with starving her horses once worked for a downtown carriage company.

Investigators say multiple horses starved to death in the care of Courtney Simpson on Epperson Mill Road. Her husband, Randall Simpson, is now charged in the case as well.

Courtney Simpson was arraigned on Monday on the animal cruelty charges. Randall Simpson was booked into jail on Monday, but has since bonded out.

Courtney and Randall Simpson

Related: Husband now wanted in Millington horse neglect case 

WREG went to their home since Courtney Simpson is out on bail, but no one came to the door.

Police say she told detectives they could no longer afford to take care of the horses.

Uptown Carriages, one of the companies often seen giving rides Downtown, confirmed Courtney Simpson used to work for them in 2015.

The owner said he doesn't remember having any problems with her.

Simpson has experience listed online as a trainer dating back to 2012.

Multiple former coworkers of hers told WREG they noticed her struggling to keep her horses fed for years now.

One woman said Simpson still tried to buy a horse from her a few months ago.

Many described a cycle of offering to take Simpson's horses from her, but she'd decline or get more.

Her story is making advocates want to spread awareness on getting help if needed.

"It's more than hay, it's more than grass -- It's dental, it's veterinary, it's farrier work," said Jamie Kroh-Jones with Living the Life Animal Rescue. "It's just a lot to it, and people get into it and don't realize what it takes."

Related: Woman charged with animal cruelty after horses found dead

A photo from Courtney Simpson’s property shows a horse with ribs and backbone showing.

The Department of Agriculture began the investigation late last year after people complained about the conditions at the house.

Investigators say the Simpsons starved and neglected their horses. Three of them died. You can see a horse's bones in one photo taken on the Millington property.

"It was as skinny as a rail," said Ricky Pike with Pike's Gravedigging Services.

"What's going on out there is not right," Pike said after being called to bury one of them. "The yard's all trashed up, the horses didn't have any hay and they didn't care about it having water apparently."

Arrest documents say the horses tried to eat bark from trees and one froze to death while trying to drink water from a lake.