Sheriff: Owner Had Bite To Head, Possibly From Bengal Tiger

Sheriff also says Terry Thompson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound

ZANESVILLE, Ohio (KDKA) — Authorities released some new details today following the death of an animal farm owner in Zanesville, Ohio, and the escape of dozens of exotic animals from the facility.

According to the sheriff in Muskingum County during a press conference Thursday morning, farm owner Terry Thompson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The sheriff reports that Thompson was also found with a bite to his head consistent with that of the bite of a Bengal tiger. It reportedly happened within seconds after the gunshot wound.

“It has been confirmed through the autopsy, the doctor believes that Mr. Thompson did die from a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” said Sheriff Matt Lutz. “I do want to release that Mr. Thompson did have a bite wound to his head area that the doctor said would be consistent with the bite from a larger-type cat or tiger, or Bengal tiger.”

Also during the press conference, authorities released aerial photos of the property where the animals escaped.

Meanwhile, the active search for the animals has been halted.

Late into Wednesday evening, it was believed that an escaped monkey, which was carrying the Herpes B virus was still on the loose; however, Sheriff Lutz says he believes the unaccounted for monkey was likely eaten by one of the big cats.

Thompson is believed to have opened the cages for the animals before his death.

He was reportedly known to police who received complaint calls about the animal farm. Thompson had also spent a year in prison on federal firearms violations. He was released last month.

Following the escape of the animals, authorities in Zanesville were order to shoot and kill the escaped exotic animals.

Officials say that nearly 50 animals were killed during the ordeal, including lions, wolves, bears and tigers. A few of the animals though, including a grizzly bear, three leopards and two monkeys, were captured and taken to the Columbus Zoo.

Stay with KDKA for the latest on this developing story.

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  • N. Contos

    This was all very tragic. I just listened to the Sherriff again state those who let those photos of the pile of deceased animals shown on the news will be rebremanded if from his force as the photo is shown again. I have a 5 year old here that saw that photo on the news and was extremely upset. Those same animals we take her to see . That is the most tragic and hardest thing we have had to talk to her about and we adopted her even though she is out Grandaughter due to the drug and alchol abuse that both parents showed her for her first two years of her life. Photos like this do not need to be shown on public television. Was it only on KDKA as that is all that we watch. Please let me know as this is very important to us in raising her.

    • D K

      She’s five. You could have said the animals were sleeping. She has so little time to be a child, don’t force her to face the big, bad world at five for gosh sakes. BTW, give up watching news and put Sesame street on for her.

  • lmb

    N. Contos,
    How often does one find positive stories on the news? Don’t subject your 5 year old to the doldrums of the world. It is not up to others to censor life. Put on some Sesame Street.

  • JR

    N. Contos, why did you bother to mention her parents’ problems? What does that have to do with anything? Just because you adopted your granddaughter doesn’t mean your demand that the media shield us from bad images is entitled to any special consideration.

  • Gwen

    When Mr. Thompson released those animals prior to his suicide, he knew that he had signed their death warrant. A bite to the head, sounds like the sheriff”s department it giving out this information in order to try and justify the slaughter of the animals. Doesn’t hold water with me. Mr. Thompson sounded like a loose cannon that should have been reined in a long time ago by the state of Ohio. But they turned a blind eye, and now it’s oh, so sorry.

  • Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium’s Curator Weighs In On Zanesville Animal Farm Situation « CBS Pittsburgh

    […] LINKS: Sheriff: Owner Had Bite To Head, Possibly From Bengal Tiger More from Zanesville Share this No comments […]

  • Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium’s Curator Weighs In On Zanesville Animal Farm Situation « CBS Pittsburgh

    […] LINKS: Sheriff: Owner Had Bite To Head, Possibly From Bengal Tiger More from Zanesville Share this No comments […]

  • Milly

    If your sad and depressed watch the news everyday and you see all the morons who’s life is worse than yours

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