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Owner, caretaker still searching for answers in killing of retired racehorse “Deuces Take ‘Em” in S.C.

The shot not only killed the horse, but also created chaos letting out 23 other horses on the property.
The shot not only killed the horse, but also created chaos letting out 23 other horses on the...
The shot not only killed the horse, but also created chaos letting out 23 other horses on the property. His caretaker, Melissa Thomas, says the horse was shot in the eye.(Melissa Thomas)
Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 5:33 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 22, 2021 at 5:57 PM EST
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YORK COUNTY, S.C. (WBTV) - A week later - police are still searching for the person or people who shot and killed a retired racehorse in York County.

The horse, called Deuces Take ‘Em, was killed last Sunday morning while it was out in a pasture.

The shot not only killed the horse, but also created chaos letting out 23 other horses on the property. His caretaker, Melissa Thomas, says the horse was shot in the eye.

Thomas says she has kept Deuces for 11 ½ years. Never in her almost 15 plus years of taking care of horses has this ever happened.

A total of 24 horses, including Deuces, were out on the pasture last Sunday morning, according to the caretaker, eating grass and hanging out.

Suddenly, a shot rang out, which she says is not uncommon for the area she says but she saw all her other horses bust out of the gate in a panic and into the street.

She says when she got the horses back into the pasture, she saw Deuces laying there dead.

”This person has to be apprehended because none of the horses there would be safe. And that was a big concern all of a sudden. A concern I never had in the past,” says Rose Smith, the horse’s owner.

Smith saved this horse Deuces Take ‘Em from what she calls the grueling job of a racehorse. She feels that created a strong bond between them.

”Deuce was a really special horse. He was a big personality,” says Smith. “He liked a lot of attention and he really could ham it up.”

Thomas also had a tight bond with Deuces after spending three months nursing him back to health after his injury.

”He was an amazing horse. He had my heart. He had my heart,” says Thomas.

Deuce being killed feels like a tight squeeze on their hearts. And his absence is not just felt by the people who loved him.

”Since that time the alpha mare seems very depressed. She’s not the same,” says Smith.

So now a waiting game—one for the killer and another if another could end up with a similar fate.

”It’s a stressful time because I worry about the other horses,” she says. “And I just don’t understand who would do something like this.”

Thomas says she is trying to keep that from happening with more security lights, fencing and motion sensors. They are hoping the new security system will alert them of someone on the property.

”We’ve been violated” Thomas explains. “It’s an exorbitant amount of money but we need to do it to protect the horses.”

But both say that will not provide comfort like catching Deuces killer.

”What you did was wrong on so many levels. But I would hope your life could go in a better direction,” says Smith.

So far, the York County Sheriff’s Office is still working through this case. They do not have any suspects or people of interest. If someone knows anything, reach out to the sheriff’s department with info.

Smith says she put up a cash reward herself to find out who did this. A $3,000 reward goes to anyone who can help lead to an arrest. That is how much catching Deuces killer means to her. She says none of this was because he was insured or a racehorse. It is simply for the love of and justice for the horse.

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