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Deputies: Man arrested for slaughtering horse in central Fla. may be connected to SWFL cases

A man arrested for stealing and slaughtering a horse in central Florida last year might be the same person who slaughtered two horses in Collier County, deputies said Wednesday.

Eladio Garcia Gasca, 50, of St. Petersburg, faces charges of grand theft and animal cruelty in Manatee County in connection with the theft and slaughter of a horse in Palmetto Dec. 1, 2019.

Collier County deputies said Wednesday they want to know if anyone has seen him around the county, specifically earlier this year when two horses were killed and slaughtered in pastures.

“It’s extremely hard,” said Jaime Doria in Golden Gate Estates. “It’s like losing a child.”

Doria says not a day goes by that she doesn’t think about Whip, her show horse.

“When he died, a big piece of my heart went with him,” Doria said.

In February, the Doria family woke up to a hole in their fence, and Whip was dead.

Doria thinks whoever killed Whip wanted him for meat.

“He was slaughtered,” Doria said. “All of him was gone except his bones.”

When she heard Manatee County investigators arrested Gasca, she thought maybe it was him, or there are more people still out there targeting horses.

“They knew how our house and how our property was laid out, so I think they had to have people helping him,” Doria said.

With Gasca behind bars, Doria and her family feel one step closer to justice for Whip

“I am really starting to have more hope,” Doria said. “They are going to keep doing it if they don’t get prosecuted and if we don’t get justice.”

Gasca is not charged at this point with the death of the horses in Collier County.

According to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, Gasca is charged with forcibly entering through the locked gate to the victim’s property and stealing her horse, which was later found dead and slaughtered for its meat.

One horse was found dead near Immokalee in July and Whip in Golden Gate Estates in February. In each case, someone went into a pasture, led the horse to a neighboring pasture and then killed it. CCSO said it appears the suspect or suspects were after the horses’ meat, based upon the remains left at the scenes.

Anyone with information on Gasca is asked to call Collier County Sheriff’s Office at 239-252-9300 (non-emergency), or to remain anonymous and be eligible for a reward, call Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS (8477).

Reporter:Taylor Smith
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