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Third CRR resident arrested in CRR animals, drug case


(Update: Suspect’s younger brother arrested the following day)

The younger brother of a Crooked River Ranch man arrested Wednesday in a raid where Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies seized 36 animals was arrested the following day on drug and other charges, officials said Friday.

George Austin-Vance, 31, also lived at the address on Southwest Cinder Drive where officials seized the animals and arrested Jonothan Vance and Melody Barnes on Wednesday, Undersheriff Marc Heckathorn said.

Heckathorn said the raid Wednesday turned up butane hash oil (BHO, or Butane Honey Oil) operation, along with a gun, a large number of marijuana plants and items used to crate hash oil through the use of butane.

Austin-Vance was arrested on deputies’ return visit Thursday afternoon and made an initial court appearance Friday on one felony count of unlawful manufacture of marijuana and two misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a minor.

Jonothan Michael Vance, 37, and Melody Ann Barnes, 35, were taken to the Jefferson County Jail Wednesday on warrants for violating their probation terms in a 2014 conviction on second-degree animal neglect charges.

Vance was charged Thursday with 36 misdemeanor counts of violating probation terms for not possessing animals for five years after deputies seized 36 animals: six dogs, four cats, two snakes, four rats and 20 fish. He also face two new felony charges of felon in possession of a firearm and illegal manufacture of marijuana (cannabinoid extract).

Both Vance and Barnes are due for arraignment on Oct. 11.

Prosecutors also filed a separate eight-count initial charging document (information) against Vance, accusing him of two felony counts each of strangulation, fourth-degree assault and first-degree criminal mistreatment and two counts of misdemeanor harassment.

Those charges stem from a July incident in which he’s accused of choking two minors in a dispute, court records show.

Heckathorn said Thursday he doesn’t believe the pair will face any new neglect charges regarding the animals that were in their possession, though “that could change.”

He said the search warrant was amended so the firearm and marijuana products could be seized. The search team finished work at the home around midnight and was busy processing seized items Thursday, he said.

Court records showed no new formal charges yet against Barnes, though jail records showed she also was charged with illegally possessing animals and illegal marijuana manufacture.

Both were being held without bail following their initial court appearance Thursday, pending a return to court next Thursday at 1 p.m., a jail officer said.

Deputies executed the search warrant around 12:45 p.m. Wednesday in the 12000 block of Southwest Cinder Drive, seizing six dogs, four cats, two snakes, four rats and 20 fish, Heckathorn said in an initial news release. The operation continued late into the afternoon and evening.

The pair were arrested on Jefferson County warrants stemming from their 2014 conviction on second-degree animal neglect charges, the undersheriff said.

The sheriff’s office thanked the Three Rivers Humane Society in Madras for its help Wednesday, along with a local veterinarian who performed a wellness examination on each animal.

Heckathorn said the humane society was able to transport and will care for all of the animals at their facilities, pending the outcome of the case. The Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office also assisted in the investigation, and Heckathorn said more charges related to the raid are expected.

Heckathorn had no initial word on the animals’ medical conditions late Wednesday but said the couple’s arrest warrants were in regards to violating terms of their probation barring pet or animal possession.

Back in June 2013, Vance and later Barnes were arrested on neglect charges as authorities seized four horses – three mares and a stallion – they said were starving to death. That raid culminated a year-long investigation, sparked by tips from neighbors and passers-by.

A colt was born at Mustangs to the Rescue of Terrebonne hours after its mother was seized in that raid. Two goats and three dogs at the home that day were allowed to stay, as they appeared in good health, with adequate food and water.

Vance was convicted in April 2014 of three counts of second-degree animal neglect that included a 14-day jail term and several conditions, including not to possess any pet or domestic animal, or own or care for any horse for five years. Barnes was sentenced to a week in jail and the same five-year requirement not to possess any pet, horse or domestic animal. They were also ordered to complete animal cruelty prevention/education programs.

Last month, five misdemeanor counts were filed against Vance by DA Steve Leriche for violating a prohibition on possessing domestic animals, court records showed. A probable cause affidavit from sheriff’s Deputy Steve Keever said he spoke with a state Department of Human Services caseworker about the animals found in the home.

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