The president of the United States Zoological Association believes exotic animal owner Terry Thompson did not take his own life....But was the victim of murder.
In a press conference posted on YouTube, Joe Schreibvogel said Thompson was murdered as part of a conspiracy to implement a ban on the private ownership of wild animals in the state. Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz reacted to Shreibvogel's speculation.
"Far-fetched, would be one phrase. It really would not make a lot of sense to me, because the task force dealing with the animals started a long time prior to the incident at the Thompson farm," said Lutz.
Shreibvogel said Thompson could not possibly have released the animals himself without being harmed in the process. Lutz said no one can know exactly what happened on that day in October.
"You know, I take quite a bit of offense to that. But I think there's always been, you know, with any death investigation that we do, there's going to be somebody that looks at it from a different point of view, looks at it from a different angle, has their own opinion," said Lutz.
State Senator Troy Balderson of Zanesville is sponsoring a bill that would ban new ownerhsip of exotic animals. People who already own these animals will have to follow strict regulations. A similar bill is also being introduced in the Ohio House by State Representative Brian Hill.