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Dead Lion Charges Against Five For Theft

11/09/2021 04:05 PM ET

Dead Lion Theft - Four men and a teenage boy accused of trying to steal a dead lion in October were charged with misdemeanor theft late Monday.

Muskingum County Prosecutor Michael Haddox said the four adults — Joseph Jakubisin, 21, of Cambridge; Brian Matthews, 21, of Kimbolton; Richard Wedlich, 20, of Cambridge; and Cody Wilson, 21, of Byesville — all face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The teen, whose name is not being released, was charged in a Muskingum County Juvenile Court.

The men are accused of traveling to Zanesville on Oct. 18 and attempting to steal a lion that had been shot by Muskingum County Sheriff’s Office deputies. Its owner, Terry Thompson, released it and more than 50 other lions, tigers, leopards, bears, wolves and monkeys from their cages on his property on Kopchak Road before he killed himself.

Deputies spent that evening hunting down the animals, some of which already had escaped the property and were found near Kopchak Road and Interstate 70.

No motive has been determined as to why Thompson killed himself or released the animals.

According to sheriff’s reports, the men were caught after deputies noticed headlights on Kopchak Road and stopped the jeep the men were in. No reason was given as to why the men tried to take the dead animal.

Six animals that survived are being kept at the Columbus Zoo.

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