Fayetteville woman charged with 2022 death of horse euthanized after found wandering Franklin County

04 March 2024- A Fayetteville woman is facing numerous animal cruelty charges after a call in early 2022 leads PSP and PA Humane Police to have to put down a horse. Darlin M. McDaniel is facing charges of felony aggravated cruelty to animals by torture, felony aggravated cruelty to animals causing death, misdemeanor neglect of vet care for animals, and misdemeanor neglect of sustenance/water for an animal. McDaniel is free on an unsecured bail of $5,000.

On March 19th of 2022, Pennsylvania State Police Troopers were called to the area of Sandy Circle, Greene Township in Franklin County for a reported horse found in the roadway. After canvassing the area and talking to nearby residents, PSP were alerted to a brown horse standing inside a fence line. The Trooper says in court filings that the horse appeared to be extremely thin, unhealthy, and have a visible rib cage, spine, and hip. Due to the health of the horse, the owner, Darlin McDaniel, was soon found.

McDaniel allegedly told police that she knew why police were there and that their horse had gotten lose when deer knocked down part of a fence that contained the horse. When asked about the horse, McDaniel reportedly told police that it was about 35 years old and “had trouble chewing”. Due to the perceived health of the horse and the fact McDaniel was unsure when the last time the horse received medical treatment, more Troopers and a PA Humane Police Officer were brought in. Additionally, a veterinary doctor was contacted to evaluate the horse.

After a review by the VMD, PSP say they found a number of signs of neglect that eventually necessitated that the doctor perform a euthanasia on the animal. The signs, PSP say, were an untreated body sore the size of a palm on the horse’s back, significant damage to the horse’s teeth that caused the horse to not even be able to close its mouth, and splitting of the animal’s hoof. These factors, as well as the malnourished and “extremely emaciated” state of the animal, necessitated the euthanasia of the equine.

After about two years, during which time the postmortem study of the animal was conducted, PSP Troopers again spoke to Darlin McDaniel. During that interview, she allegedly told police that she was aware of the horse’s conditions due to her husband advising her “on many occasions that the horse was not eating and was losing weight”. She did not call the vet, however, due to the fact “she wanted to observe the horse herself prior to calling”.

The open sore on the animal, PSP say, was being treated by McDaniel herself with hydrocortisone spray but McDaniel, of her alleged own admission, was unable to care for the horse due to her own medical condition.

After the interview, Troopers spoke to multiple vets who’s names were allegedly provided by McDaniel as ones that had cared for the animal. One vet said that the previous owner of the clinic had moved out of the area and they had not personally done any mobile visits for large animals in over a decade. Another, an equine dentist, allegedly said he had not serviced the horse “in many years”.

PSP Troopers charged McDaniel with aggravated cruelty to animals – torture because “the defendant did cause unnecessary pain and suffering by failing to provide necessary veterinarian care,” per McDaniel’s criminal complaint.

Darlin McDaniel is free on an unsecured bail.

Sources: Docket Number: MJ-39304-CR-0000049-2024, Incident No.: PA 2022-339645