Paula White in 2009.
Update March 23, 2015
Authorities confirm the deaths of David and Paula White was a murder-suicide. Their bodies were pulled from their Wisconsin house after it burned on Thursday.
The couple that faced almost 50 years in prison for animal cruelty, was identified by the medical examiner’s office as the Whites on Saturday. Dental records were used in the identification process.
Pleasant Prairie Police state Paula White sustained two gunshot wounds to the head and her death has been ruled a homicide. Her husband, David White, had a single gunshot wound to the head. His death was ruled a suicide by the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office and the Kenosha County Medical Examiner’s Office. Their dog sustained a single gunshot wound.
Accused of animal cruelty, it was day eight of the Whites’ trial before the jury began deliberating late Wednesday. Thursday morning, the Whites never appeared in court.
Jurors were unaware that a fire broke out at the couple’s property that morning since they weren’t in court. The Hidden Lake Stables owners were both convicted of 11 felony counts of mistreatment to animals and two misdemeanor counts of failing to provide animals with proper shelter.
The charges stemmed from the April 2013 seizure of 23 horses, a bull, goats, sheep, and various other animals from the Whites’ property. Five dead horses were left to rot in the barns with the living.
A documentary short, filmed in 2009, shows the couple’s hope for their legacy, which we now know will never come to fruition. Numerous animals of all types are seen in the video and appear in good body condition. Justin Jackola Director/Founder of JJack Productions, out of Illinois, tells Rate My Horse PRO looking back, “it’s very eerie.”
Jackola admits he knew the couple only briefly, but speculated that if it was a murder-suicide he believes it was a mutual decision. “It was them against the world – in a good way.”
The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Authorities state no further details will be released at this time.
This situation is a reminder for horse owners that before becoming overwhelmed it is important to ask for help. There are resources available to those that make the call before the situation becomes dire. Contact local horse rescues, your local humane society, or a hay bank.
Note: The Whites died prior to being convicted by jurors, so the criminal case was dismissed due to their deaths.
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