In Kent County, Delaware, the New Castle County Police charged a 31 year-old man with two counts of felony bestiality in the suspected serial rape of ponies dating back to nearly a year ago. Michael Riego was arrested on Thursday and is currently in jail.
According to the New Castle County Police, reports of injuries to ponies and horses in their back leg areas were received in September 2019 at the New Castle County Carousel Park and Equestrian Center. Older horses had presented with clear discomfort and had trouble walking related to having tight rear leg restraints. Ponies used to give riding lessons were found with cords tied above their back hooves.
Workers at the equestrian center were very disturbed when they found the first injured pony, and in cooperation with the police set up a video surveillance camera in February throughout the barn. Videos of a male wearing a dark jacket were seen entering the barn on the suspected nights when the horses were injured. At the time the man was not identified.
On April 20, the surveillance video showed the same man wearing a dark jacket entering the stall with a bucket of grain. He tied up a mare’s back hooves, pulled down his pants and sexually assaulted the horse; the horse writhed in pain from the tight leg restraints. After he was finished, he pulled up his pants, left the stall – taking the bucket of grain with him.
And on May 21, police witnessed the same person alleged to have been in the barn before, sexually assaulting another horse. He came in carrying a bucket of grain and went towards a pony and tied up her back legs.
Detectives entered the stable and discovered Riego with his zipper undone. Along with the two counts of felony bestiality, he has also been charged with felony burglary. The investigation is still ongoing and additional charges are anticipated.
Riego was then arraigned at Justice of the Peace Court 11 and held in lieu of $12,000 secured bail. All of the ponies have been treated by an equine veterinarian and have resumed normal daily activities. It is not known if more animals were victimized.
Detectives are asking anyone with any information pertaining to this investigation or farmers that may know or have had hired Michael Riego to contact Det. Lucas at (302) 395-8110 or via email at Brian.Lucas@newcastlede.gov or by calling the New Castle County Division of Police non-emergency number at 302-573-2800 or via messenger on Facebook.
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