The Ottumwa Courier

February 28, 2014

Arrest in hoarding case

By MARK NEWMAN
Courier staff writer

---- — DRAKESVILLE — A man accused of neglecting a hoard of 300 animals in his care has been charged.

The Davis County Sheriff's Office has arrested Roger Alan Blew, 45, of Drakesville, one week after a multi-agency search was made of his home. Authorities called their rescue operation one of the worst cases of hoarding they'd seen in Iowa.

The arrest comes after an investigation and search warrant execution which discovered almost 300 animals, some "in various states of neglect," according to Chief Deputy Josh Odell of the Davis County Sheriff's Office. There were also 60 which, in some cases, may have been neglected to death. The deceased animals were found in the house and on other parts of the property. Live and dead animals were housed together.

Blew faces charges from two separate agencies. He has been charged by Sheriff Dave Davis with 28 counts of animal neglect as well as "duty to dispose of dead bodies." Eight of the charges are serious misdemeanors, which could carry up to one year in jail each. The other Davis County charges are simple misdemeanors, which each carry up to 30 days in jail.

Blew also faces charges from officers of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. These additional 10 charges, all simple misdemeanors, include not having a valid game breeder license, failure to file annual game breeder report (2013) and game breeder records violations.

In the raid last Friday, DNR officers and Davis County Sheriff's deputies were aided by the Ottumwa Police Department and had support from the Heartland Humane Society in Ottumwa, with a majority of the animals going home with the Animal Rescue League of Iowa. A senior deputy said the search warrant team also had support available from ADLM, the Appanoose, Davis, Lucas and Monroe counties environmental agency.

The Iowa DNR had previously said they could not find any records indicating Roger Blew held a DNR license. A DNR official contacted the Courier, however, to report an oversight in their response to an open records request.

"We do have Roger Blew on file," said Kevin Baskins, communications bureau chief for the DNR. "He held what is called the Iowa Game Breeders license."

Baskins said Blew had allowed that license to expire earlier this year.

"He was licensed in 2011, 2012 and 2013. The 2013 license is the one that expired January 10," Baskins said.

Acquiring a license requires a $15.50 fee, the completion of an application and the signature of a DNR enforcement officer. Licensees must then submit self-reporting inventories and other updates to the DNR.

"His Game Breeders license said he was raising quail, pheasant, skunk and raccoon," Baskins said.

By Friday afternoon, Blew had posted bail.

His bail had been set at $1,000 cash-only bond, meaning the defendant had to pay the entire amount to gain release.

— News reporter Mark Newman is on Twitter @couriermark