Molino Man Charged With Two Felony Animal Abuse Counts

September 13, 2016

A Molino man has been arrested on two felony animal abuse charges in connection with two malnourished horses.

Charles Van Deese, 53, was charged with two felony counts of animal abuse causing cruel death or pain and suffering. He was released from the Escambia County Jail on a $5,000 bond.

According to court documents, Escambia County Animal Control received a complaint on July 13 from Panhandle Equine Rescue about two horses in poor condition on Parker Lane off the 3000 block of Highway 97. PER told a county investigator that Deese had been in and out of the hospital during the last several months and was unable to care for his horses. In his absence, they were being cared for by two of his friends.

Animal control reported that a  veterinarian that examined the horses stated that they needed to be fed more often, and that the pasture was not sufficient to provide enough food for the horses. The pasture was reported to contain only weeds and very short grass.

The first horse was emaciated and the second was “very thin”, according to court documents. The ribs of both horses were reported to be easily visible from a distance. Due to the critical condition of the horses, they were removed from the property July 14 and transported to Panhandle Equine Rescue where they were placed on 24 hour care.

On July 15, Van Deese contacted Escambia County Animal Control and said he wanted to sign the animals over to the custody of the county because he was “not able to take care of them and wanted to do what was best”, according to an animal control report.

Van Deese told an investigator that he suffers from a medical condition that is getting worse.

Photos for, click to enlarge.


47 Responses to “Molino Man Charged With Two Felony Animal Abuse Counts”

  1. Trisha on September 18th, 2016 1:11 pm

    I think that it’s a shame if you’ve been watching someone for nine months and knowing someone with medical issues…and didn’t offer a helping hand…shame on you…not saying much for your humanity…..sounds like you need some charges for not being a good neighbor….smh….my prayers are with you Mr.Van Deese….I know how it feels to be a victim of noisy people that don’t speak the truth….bless your heart..shame on you Elisa…..not a good person,if you was so worried,offer help ,that’s the neighborly thing to do ….

  2. A friend on September 15th, 2016 8:05 pm

    I have the same condition this man has. It is an excruciating ,Crippling ,Disabiling Condition that, only gets worse even with the strong MEDS. Get the facts ,before you throw the STONES.

  3. Truther on September 14th, 2016 10:40 pm

    I think it’s a sad state of affairs when so many people are willing to throw the human away to “save” the animal. Just because telling on someone and “helping” a horse makes you feel morally superior, it certainly doesn’t make you morally superior. If you really want to make a difference, help the humans so that they can, in turn, help the animal. Be a good neighbor and help all of God’s creatures, great and small. Maybe we could all do a better job of caring for one another instead of getting our jollies by being a coward and anonymously reporting people who are presumed guilty until proven innocent.

  4. Jeff spooneybarger on September 14th, 2016 9:51 pm

    I, too, have known Van for many years. It is true that he is one of the most generous people you’ll ever know. I have also seen how he has cared for his many, many animals over the years. I have never seen one ounce of cruelty towards any of them, whether it was his dogs, cows, chickens, horses, goats, or even his pet doe deer (long time ago.) He always treated every animal as if they were as important as himself. I don’t know all the details on this, but he should not be charged with a crime.

  5. Brian Hosterman on September 14th, 2016 5:20 pm

    I have known Van since I was 6 years old and can tell you that you will not find a better person. He has had several health scares that I know about. People should really stop the rush to judge until ALL of the facts come in.

  6. Christy on September 14th, 2016 11:30 am

    Thank God for rescues like PER. There arent enough voices out there for the ones who have to suffer and cant cry for help. All the people who are bashing PER are probably just upset because they know they better get off their asses and take care of they’re animals properly. Because if they don’t, they too will have the rescue ladys nose all up in their business. If all of You really knew the stories and seen the suffering of all of the horses that they take in, You would be ashamed of Your negative comments. These people devote their lives to helping the animals that were failed by thier owners. That is , if they survive. Sadly, its to late for some. Thank You PER for not giving up. The Horses thank You dearly. And yes, for some of us animal lives matter too.

  7. Debbie on September 14th, 2016 9:08 am

    I only have one question. Where were all these FRIENDS that say they knew he was going through such hard times and in and out of the hospital when he was in need ? If they were stopping by to check on their friend and the horses were across the road one would think they could see the horses needed help.

  8. ME on September 14th, 2016 8:44 am

    I am curious as to why it’s just the horses that seemed to be “neglected”? There are clearly cows in the same pastures with the horses yet nothing is mentioned about them? Were the cows eating and not the horses?

    I don’t know Van personally but have family who does. He took some cattle over to my brother in laws house a few years back during a drought because there wasn’t enough for them to graze on his place. Doesn’t seem like someone who wants to abuse animals. I have never heard a bad word spoken about the man.

  9. Molino Resident on September 14th, 2016 7:46 am

    I too have known Van for many many years. I don’t know why or how this happened to these poor horses and it breaks my heart to look at the pictures knowing they were not taken care of properly BUT I have known Van for longer than I can remember and he would never intentionally let this happen! He is a great man who has always been very involved in the community. He has always been a man to step up to the plate and help anyone who needs help. Again, I am not condoning the condition of these horses, but did anyone stop to think that maybe his medical condition could have contributed to his “treatment” , or lack of treatment of the horses? I agree with others – there’s more to this story.
    If I didn’t know the kind, gentle, giving person that Van is, I would be the first person to jump on the bandwagon accusing him of intentional mistreatment of the horses but he has always loved his horses and I just cannot believe that this was an intentional act on his part. I will say that he must be very sick as I did not even recognize his picture until I started reading the article and saw his name-and I have known Van for over 25 years so that should tell you something. He has always been a VERY thin man all the years I have known him. So, people before you start accusing and blaming, you might want to get on your knees and pray for him (and yourselves) because thats what God would want you to do. This could be your family one day. I would hate to know that I passed judgement on someone (which is not any of our places to do so) who was this sick and I made the situation worse by leud opinions and comments about him without knowing the full story. You should all be ashamed of yourselves!
    I will be praying for your health Van, as well as the horses.

  10. jeeperman on September 14th, 2016 6:26 am

    Horses are livestock.
    If more owners sent them to slaughter sooner, this kind of problem would not exist.

    And what happens to “rescued” horse after they are brought back from the edge?
    I bet you can not adopt it without a nice fee to PER.

  11. Cindy on September 14th, 2016 5:58 am

    Seems like most of you live in glass houses where you do no wrong. Van is a good man and a child of God. Can you really cast stones????

  12. Traci on September 14th, 2016 5:41 am

    Really… This man starved theses horses an you people are saying good things. I bet he ate an drank every day an night. Since some of you people know him so well an have such good things to say an know he had medical problems or whatever his excuse is why didn’t you go feed these horses. Get real he needs sit in jail with no food or drink for days or months

  13. A resident on September 14th, 2016 5:35 am

    PER, quit riding around trying to get people in trouble, try helping, you know something preventative or get your noses outta everybodys butt. I was told by someone one time that if someone told them they were being abused, that they wasn’t gonna tell the caretaker they were gonna just report them, it wasn’t their job to determine that, it would be the officials, wow yeah that’s how people get their persons smeared, people that just make accusations especially when that person had already been telling lies & causing families turmoil, yeah that’s good put them through more.

  14. WRH I I on September 14th, 2016 4:45 am

    for the people with negative comments about van .you should probably sweep around your door before sweeping around others . you never know what someone is dealing with . if you were so worried you would have thrown some hay over the fence.

  15. Becky on September 13th, 2016 8:30 pm

    Hopefully, all of you people with the mean comments will never be too sick to take care of business. I, for 1, have been there. So sorry for him and his horses.

  16. Law on September 13th, 2016 8:29 pm

    Animsl lives matter.

    FOR HORSES. You really don’t know people from a distance
    But if you live nesr them more is revealed.
    Many people have lost family and fought disease but I am sorry this is no excuse for the suffering ,one can cause ,on an innocent animal. Probably fined will be the outcome.

  17. Just Sayin on September 13th, 2016 8:09 pm

    If you have been “watching these horses for 9 months,” you are just as guilty and part of the problem!

  18. JLB on September 13th, 2016 5:07 pm

    I know this guy too. He never spent more than a couple of days a couple of times in the hospital. That is just an excuse he told the investigators. He was home and knew that the horses were starving. The reason the “friends in charge” haven’t been named, is because they don’t exist. He was the only one in charge of their care. He never even bothered to ask anyone for help feeding them. He could have at any time picked up the phone and called for help. He’s not the “good guy” everyone thinks he is.

  19. MIKE NEESE on September 13th, 2016 4:54 pm


  20. Amanda Wilkerson on September 13th, 2016 4:24 pm

    I know this guy. To bad the neighbors didn’t notice these horses. There’s a few horse people on this road should have been reported before now. People need to report what they see is not correct to avoid this neglect and cruelty. I know this guy and not surprised.

  21. dman on September 13th, 2016 4:21 pm

    Glad to see the honest back and forth in these comments. Usually people’s brains explode when they see an animal cruelty case in the news, but here, it looks like something else is happening. The man must be a pretty good guy to be getting so many comments in support of him. Now my question is if he was in the hospital, and is ill, what is there to gain by bringing charges? The animals can be brought back to health…hence why he signed them over. So what’s the point here? If anything, bring charges against those in whom he entrusted the horses!

  22. Misty on September 13th, 2016 3:54 pm

    Van Deese is a good man… He would give you the shirt right off of his back if you needed it..He has been very sick for some time now and has been hit with so much In the past few years most people would not be able to withstand it..I’m not making excuses for what happened with his horse but I’m glad he did the right thing by turning over the other horses..people don’t judge unless you have walked a mile in his shoes. There is more to the story than being reported…prayers my friend hang in there God will see you through this..

  23. Beulah on September 13th, 2016 2:59 pm

    I have know Van for over 20 yrs. There has got to be more to this story. His health has been declining for sometime now. The fullness of his face is not from over eating, Christy, but for the medication he has to take for his illness. This man would give you his last bite of food. I’m sure there is more to this. He may have trusted the wrong people, but he had good intentions . I have a small farm myself, and feed my animals before I eat. Van is a good man in a very bad situation!

  24. tiff on September 13th, 2016 1:28 pm

    Only thing I can say is this is ridiculous! If u can’t take care of the animals don’t have them!

  25. Elisa on September 13th, 2016 1:18 pm

    Have been watching these horses for almost 9 months. Don’t think he was in the hospital for that long. After all he lived across the street from where they were staying. Get real people look at the dates. He called after they were under investigation. Just saying.

  26. Christy on September 13th, 2016 1:05 pm

    So I take it if I have a medical condition and Im a “good’ person, then its ok to walk right past my starving animals and say “sorry, I just cant take care of You anymore”. Some of these comments are sounding alot like they came straight from the movie set of “Deliverance” all we are missing is the dueling banjos playing in the background. Bottom line, he is a good hearted person who knows right from wrong. Right is right, and wrong is wrong. Ignorance is no excuse in the eyes of the law.No need for judgement on anyone. God has got that part under control. And one more thing, Its a hot one out there today, everyone make sure that any animals that are penned up have some shade and fresh water, just sayin…

  27. Elisa J Carnley on September 13th, 2016 12:58 pm

    He only called and turned them when he got cought. Been watching these horses for almost 9 months. Things got worse every day. Sorry but I don’t think he was unable to see what was going on since he lived across the street.

  28. Jenny on September 13th, 2016 12:36 pm

    Animal control only conducted the investigation and reported their findings. It is the state attorney who reads the report and determines whether or not to file charges. If it was the female sergeant with animal control who conducted the investigation, you can bet that it was done thoroughly and unbiased. PER does like to push for criminal charges and removal of horses whenever they can and it would not surprise me if that were the case here.

  29. BRDN on September 13th, 2016 11:58 am

    These animal abuse arrest are getting out of hand. For centuries we just shot the poor old horse….cow…dog…or any other animal. This country can’t think anymore.
    Let hard times come back and everyone will be fighting over who gets to eat it

  30. Walnut Hill on September 13th, 2016 11:32 am

    Panhandle Equine Rescue doesn’t have ANYTHING to gain by rescuing and rehabilitating (hopefully) these horses. Just more heartache from caring for underfed horses.

    If you can’t take care of your animals, pick up the darn phone and CALL SOMEBODY. Don’t let them starve to death.

    If two “friends” were taking care of these horses, yes, they need to be charged as well as the owner. Unless he was in a coma and never saw these animals, he’s just as guilty as they are.

    I don’t know him so I have no ax to grind but the treatment of these horses.

  31. William on September 13th, 2016 10:59 am

    >> It is easy to report from the arrest reports but true journalism gets to the bottom of the story

    Sorry, but we can only report what information is released, which is the warrant affidavit.

  32. Grandma on September 13th, 2016 10:48 am

    I know Van Deese and I’ve been to his place. He is an honorable man who cares for his animals. He left his horses in the care of “friends”. So what happened? More to this story that needed to be dug out. It is easy to report from the arrest reports but true journalism gets to the bottom of the story. There is much that is being ignored here. 1-Who are the “friends”? 2-Why are they not charged? A person in charge of the care of a child that neglects or causes harm is held accountable by the law, why not those taking care of animals. 3-How did PER get involved in the beginning? What is their true motive? What gains do they get from this? DIG, William. Van I pray the Lord heals and restores your health very soon.

  33. c.w. on September 13th, 2016 10:27 am

    There is no excuse for the horses not being cared for. Van Neese could tell two of his friend to care for the horses, he could have told the Esquine that he needed help with the horses and they would have seen to their welfare. He deserves whatever he get from the courts.

  34. JLB on September 13th, 2016 10:03 am

    A couple of days in the hospital two or three times does not make him blind and disabled. He was sure able to do lots of other things during this time period. And to blame it on a couple of friends?! Give me a break! He needs to take responsibility for what HE did and stop lying.

  35. Greg on September 13th, 2016 9:48 am

    Overzealous Animal protectors. People are more important that animals – period. He did the best he could and tried to turn them over. It is a travesty of justice to charge him.

  36. Annie Mae on September 13th, 2016 9:47 am

    It sickens me to think people think this is OK because Van is a “good person” and “he’s sick.” OK, so he had a medical problem and put in the hospital. Who are the “friends” that were taking care of these horses?? Maybe they should be charged since he was out of commission, and they were responsible. These horses look like they haven’t eaten in a long time. Shame on those that think this is OK, and that it’s OK to let these horses get this way. Animal cruelty/abuse is a horrible crime, and he should be convicted! Get real!

  37. Tracy Hester on September 13th, 2016 9:44 am

    A lot of people don’t know that horses can get like this and as little as six weeks. However it takes a month to over a year to get the weight back on they do not lose and gain weight like people. They lose rapidly and gain extremely slow. I’m interested to see what the other details in this are. It is only my opinion but the animal should have been given up when he realized he could not take care of them before they got in this condition. Now they have a long long hard road to recovery. It is quite expensive and now other people have to foot the bill for what was his responsibility. Yes I am horse’s yes I have taken in rescues

  38. Old man on September 13th, 2016 9:30 am

    What happens when we see a 98 year old person that’s a bag of bones???? I bet when they were 35 they looked great! Well horses are about the same.. When they get about 40 they go down hill.people don’t freak out just because you see bones on them. If our sheriff is going to lock everyone up that owns a old horses you better put them in the ground soon! Sorry but true!

  39. mq on September 13th, 2016 9:28 am

    We had entrusted care of a rabbit to a neighbor several years ago as we went out of town. It was still alive when we got home, but how were we to know that it had not been fed or watered. We were shocked that it had not been taken care of. I don’t know this man or his situation, but there has to be more to this story. Sadly, “things” can happen. I know some will say “well, it was only a rabbit”……… It was still an animal and our family pet.

  40. Kay Campbell on September 13th, 2016 8:36 am

    I have known Van Deese for many years, an animal abuser he is not!! Van has been very sick for awhile and has had personal family issues that I will not go into. He would go above and beyond to help anyone. There is more to this story than what you are reading. Praying for Van is what we need to do instead of pointing the finger !

  41. Linda on September 13th, 2016 8:21 am

    I personally know Van…and yes, he does have a serious medical condition. Unless you are in his shoes – DO NOT JUDGE! The article states – On July 15, Van Deese contacted Escambia County Animal Control and said he wanted to sign the animals over to the custody of the county because he was “not able to take care of them and wanted to do what was best”, according to an animal control report. So why isn’t Animal Control being held liable for the condition of these horses? That was JULY 15th!!! Van would help anyone with anything in his power to do so…so, everyone step back and take a breathe. There’s more to this story than what is being said!

  42. Christy on September 13th, 2016 7:53 am

    The condition these horses are in here is not a product of missing a couple of meals. This did not happen overnight, or even over a couple of weeks. I’m sure Van is a really “Good Guy”(that hasn’t missed to many meals himself). And I hope he gets well soon. But if he gets away with confining and abandoning a defenseless animal, then so will everyone else. I personally think that these beautiful creatures that depend on us humans,deserve better treatment than this. Glad that these 2 horses have a chance at a better life. Have a good day, gotta go feed and water my chickens.

  43. Deo Vindice on September 13th, 2016 6:22 am

    Sounds like some agency or group got a grant and they have to make all these animal cruelty cases to prove their existence…their appears to be a disproportionate number of cases in Esco…..I have a hard time believing there is so many heartless people there.
    It would be interesting if someone did a Freedom of Information Act Request as to their funding and how they work.
    Don’t always accept what you read and hear people; there is more to the story many times.

  44. Jennifer gaugler on September 13th, 2016 6:02 am

    I don’t know this man or anything about this story expect what I read. My thought on it, i own horses and I pay to board them, however they are still my animals my responsibility. That one horse did not get like that in a month so Mr Dees has to see at some point the condition they were in, it said he was in and out of the hospital?

  45. Resident on September 13th, 2016 4:49 am

    >>Who contacted the vet & the officials that had charges pressed?

    The story says Panhandle Equine Rescue contacted animal control.

  46. Friend of Van on September 13th, 2016 4:48 am

    Mr. Van Deese has a heart bigger than most. Always caring, always looking to help another, always trying to make life better for those around him. He’s sacrificed a lot to help a lot of people. He would not just you the shirt off his back, he’d toss in a pair of shoes too. It’s unfortunate and sad about his medical condition and he thought he was doing the right thing. He had caretakers for the horses while he was in the hospital….he trusted the horses were being taken care of. How was he to know laying in a hospital bed that they were not eating properly? Sounds like an overzealous prosecutor to me.

  47. A resident on September 13th, 2016 4:37 am

    First of all, I’d like to tell Mr. Deese that I’m sorry that he’s been sick & will pray that he does get better, just have belief. Now, I don’t know what’s going on with the whole story but I have read this story & I must be missing something, because I simply cannot understand why this man is being charged. He was in & out of the hospital, with someone else taking care of the horses, he called to have the horses signed over for the better of them story states that he said. Sometimes things might be wrong with animals that cause them to lose weight & not gain. I don’t condone animal abuse but but sometimes PER or others quickly jump or put their noses into others business & have charges pressed instead of helping. Who contacted the vet & the officials that had charges pressed? Now with this man sick they’re gonna do this too him? Talk about kicking one when they’re down, come on people. I say drop the charges & be a little caring for him.

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