In October, Ronald Lee Henry Jr. pleaded guilty in a West Virginia circuit court to unlawful disposal of animal remains. Now, a federal grand jury has indicted him for dumping animal carcasses on U.S. property.
And if convicted, he could receive a possible maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Henry, 38, of 611 Allegheny Circle in Woodstock, was formerly employed by both the Fairfax County Animal Shelter and Family Pet Cremations in Chantilly. And unbeknownst at the time to authorities at these entities, many of the remains came from both places.
HENRY WORKED full time for the shelter and part time for the cremation facility. But in December 2005 and January 2006, it was discovered that more than 4,000 pounds of animal carcasses had been illegally dumped in West Virginia.
At that time, the shelter contracted with Family Pet Cremations to dispose of their animals, and animals originating from Fairfax County were found at two sites.
Around Christmastime 2005, a visitor to the forest came upon a pile of animal remains in the George Washington National Forest in Hardy County, W.Va. It contained more than five dozen animals — dogs and cats, plus wildlife such as deer, squirrels and possums. And evidence including I.D. numbers and packaging indicated they were all placed there at the same time.
Then in late January 2006, more than 250 dead animals — again, many from Fairfax County — were found in a forested, residential area near Capon Bridge, in Hampshire County, W.Va. A local resident discovered them in a huge heap on private land.
The Hampshire County Sheriff's Department, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) Law Enforcement Section and Fairfax County police investigated. And the evidence pointed to Henry and two others — Jason Scott Light, 21, and Shane Douglas Richmond, 27, both of Capon Bridge — whom he'd hired to help him dispose of the animals.
According to an attorney representing Family Pet Cremations, when the crematorium's incinerator was out of service for awhile, the business paid Henry to take the animal remains to a farm in Winchester and bury them there properly. Instead, he and the other two men dumped them in West Virginia.
On Oct. 12, Henry was convicted in Hampshire County Circuit Court. Then last Wednesday, Feb. 21, in Elkins, W.Va., he was indicted by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia.
The indictment alleges that Henry "willfully committed a depredation against the George Washington and Jefferson national forests by dumping approximately 70 animal carcasses and related trash" there. It gives the location as "along Squirrel Gap Road in Hardy County" and the date of the crime as Dec. 30, 2005.
U.S. Attorney Stephen D. Warner will prosecute the case. Henry is scheduled for arraignment March 13 in Elkins and then a new court date will be set for him.