The founder of a nonprofit Illinois animal sanctuary will be in court on Friday, facing one felony charge of aggravated animal cruelty after sanctuary board members found nearly 200 dead animals rotting in a ditch on the property in 2019.
EARTH Animal Sanctuary, located in Iroquois County, was founded by Corinne DiLorenzo. DiLorenzo has a troubling past and had previously lived at a different sanctuary called Wedrose Acres that experienced a fire in 2013, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The operator of Wedrose Acres, Tobein Tegard, told the Tribune the sanctuary fire was a terrible situation.
“I saw this awful fire and called her to ask what was burning, and she said she wasn’t home,” Tegard said. “It’s heartbreaking. It was so much (fire) that you couldn’t get in to rescue any of them.”
DiLorenzo later moved to Thawville, IL, and started her nonprofit sanctuary in 2014. The sanctuary reportedly had many issues and in 2018 a suspicious fire took the lives of 40 animals there.
DiLorenzo told conflicting accounts of her location on the night of the fire, according to a change.org petition. She also started a GoFundMe fundraiser after the fire, which is how many of the sanctuary board members found out about the fire.
In 2019, two sanctuary board members visited the Thawville location of EARTH Animal Sanctuary, after being unable to confirm the status of the animals in DiLorenzo’s possession. There, they found the decomposing corpses of hundreds of animals in a shallow ditch.
“There were bones everywhere. It was like a nightmare,” a board member told the Tribune. “It was horrible. Skulls, teeth. Crushed skulls, pieces, it was horrible.”
Authorities found 190 sets of animal remains on the property, the Tribune reports, and additional remains were later found in other areas of the property.
In December 2019, DiLorenzo was arrested and charged with one count of felony animal cruelty for intentionally causing the death of multiple animals including “dogs, cats, pigs, rabbits, birds, goats, raccoons and turtles,” according to the indictment. DiLorenzo posted $1,000 bond and was released.
In January 2020, DiLorenzo pled not guilty to her charge and asked for a jury trial. Her court case has been delayed due to COVID-19. Her next hearing in the case is a status conference set for April 2, 2021.
An online petition demanding justice for 600 animals missing from EARTH Animal Sanctuary has received more than 13,000 signatures. https://www.change.org/p/iroquois-county-state-s-attorney-james-devine-demand-justice-for-more-than-600-animals-missing-from-earth-sanctuary