Multi-State Animal Cruelty Investigation Begins In Kentucky (9-9-15)
Two arrests in an animal cruelty investigation in Florida has ties to a similar case in Kentucky and other states. One of the two womens’ many aliases will sound familiar to LEX 18 viewers.
Deputies in Floral City, responded to a well-being check on two women, Nancy Lee Freeman and Katherine Freeman. The two rented a home in the area. The pair had one of their pets cremated, and the cremation company could not get in touch with them to deliver the dog’s remains.
When deputies arrived, no one was home, but they observed several dog and cats inside with no food or water. A horse was found dead and decaying in a stall along, with ten caged rabbits, of which five were deceased.
Deputies also discovered a stolen vehicle and a stolen horse trailer from Arkansas on the property. A tote bag with a horrible smell was found near one of stolen the cars with the remains of several liquefied dogs inside.
Neighbors told officers that they might find the Freemans at the Moffitt Cancer Center because Nancy had cancer. After a call from a tipster in Versailles, further investigation showed that the Freemans had been in trouble before for abandoning animals. They had been charged in Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas and Florida. They also discovered the two had been using multiple aliases. Nancy went by the names, Nancy Frieman, Nancy Nygaard, Nan Speed and Nan Steed. Katherine had went by Katherine Lee, Kat Frieman, Lee Freeman, Joanne Speed, Joanne Steed and on Facebook used the name Joanne Flutterby.
When living in Kentucky, the two went by the last name Nygaard and were covered extensively on LEX 18 for charges of animal abuse. Nancy Nygaard was a former professor at the University of Kentucky. Both Nancy and Katherine went on trial for cruelly neglecting several horses and dogs several years ago. In 2005, Nancy was acquitted of charges but daughter Katherine was found guilty and sentenced to 90 days in jail.
A Facebook group of people who had been scammed by the two women, claimed that in 2009 they were leasing a farm in Mt. Vernon and that there was never any water or feed at the barn. Neighbors said that they had to bury many horses after the women left. The Facebook group also said that the two had rented a trailer in Stanford and left it destroyed, filled with dead dogs, cats and horses.
In 2010, the Woodford County Animal Control had conducted an animal cruelty case against the two women. They fled Woodford County in the middle of the night owing Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital $21,205 for the treatment of 2 horses and Tri-City Small Animal Clinic $141.
“I was contacted by someone in Woodford County, Kentucky, who had fallen prey to these two ladies,” Lora Peckham, supervisor of animal control, said. “The woman told me she had created a private Facebook page for people who had been victimized to discuss what had happened to them and to help find the perpetrators. There were people coming out of the woodwork who had been scammed out of thousands of dollars by the Freemans.”
Victims say that Nancy and Katherine used Nancy’s cancer to solicit donations and animals.
Later in the investigation, dead cats were found in garbage bags inside the residence. Neighbors stated that two horses were buried on the property. One of those horses turned out to be a descendant of racing legends Secretariat and Seattle Slew.
Almost all of the animals seized have been rescued. None have been euthanized.
“What we have here is a mother/daughter team who scammed people across four states out of thousands of dollars – animals, feed, veterinarian services, supplies, vehicles and more – not to mention the animals that are dead from having been entrusted to them,” Undersheriff Commander Buddy Grant told reporters. “I can’t stress enough the time that went into investigating their wake of destruction and what an outstanding job was done by everyone who was involved.”
Incident ID # 200123