Police arrested a man accused of sexually assaulting ponies at an equestrian center in Delaware.
Michael Riego, 31, is charged with two counts of bestiality and two counts of burglary.
The investigation began in February when police received multiple reports of injured horses at the New Castle County Carousel Park and Equestrian Center. Staff members at the center told police that on multiple occasions they arrived to work and found ponies with cords tied around their legs just above the hoof.
One of the ponies was a 17-year-old black and white mare that was having difficulty walking after suffering an injury to her rear legs. Investigators determined the incident was similar to one that had occurred in September of last year.
During that incident, a 20-year-old mare was found with a cord tied around one of her rear legs.
Detectives reviewed surveillance footage and spotted a man entering the barn during the nights of all the reported incidents.
On April 20, police were notified of another incident at the center involving a 31-year-old brown mare. They viewed surveillance footage and spotted the same man, with a mask over his face, taking a feed bucket from the barn and entering the mare’s stall. The man then tied up the mare’s hind legs and sexually assaulted the animal.
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Investigators then began to conduct nightly surveillance at the center. On Thursday, around 12:30 a.m., police spotted the suspect entering a pony’s stall and tying up the animal’s legs. Police entered the stall and spotted the man, who they identified as Riego, hiding in the corner. He was then taken into custody.
All of the ponies were treated by a veterinarian and have resumed normal activities.
Police continue to investigate and said Riego could face additional charges. They are asking any farmers who either know or have hired Riego in the past to come forward. If you have any information on Riego, call Detected Brian Lucas at (302) 395-8110 or email him at Brian.Lucas@newcastlede.gov.
You can also call the New Castle County Division of Police at 302-573-2800 or message them on Facebook.