TOWN OF HONEY CREEK — A landlord is facing criminal charges after prosecutors say he stole the carcass of his tenant’s dog and brutalized her horse.
On Friday, the Sauk County District Attorney’s Office charged Jerry A. Leister, 67, of Middleton, with felony mistreatment of an animal and misdemeanor dognapping. He faces up to 3½ years in prison if convicted of the felony.
According to the criminal complaint, the tenant told investigators that her boyfriend returned to the home, located southwest of Baraboo on Balfanz Road, in September and noticed her dog was missing. He noticed a pool of blood at the end of the driveway, and the landlord, Leister, pulling away in his truck.
The woman said when she confronted Leister about what her boyfriend saw, Leister said he noticed the deceased dog in the driveway and became worried it would traumatize her young son. He told the woman he took the carcass away in his truck.
However, the woman told investigators that Leister refused to tell her where the dog was buried. When she pressed him for more information, the tenant said, Leister became evasive.
The woman also reported that on Oct. 20, Leister showed up at the home enraged because construction workers she had referred him to for a project were not showing up for work. He allegedly began shouting at her and pointing his finger in her face with her son nearby.
Three days later, the woman said, she saw Leister bring a skid-loader into a nearby barn where she kept two horses. The next morning, the woman noticed an injury to one horse’s muzzle and blood scattered around the barn.
Investigators documented a large laceration running horizontally across the horse’s face above its nostril, with a bone sticking straight up above the wound. There also was a 2-inch cut to the animal’s shoulder.
The woman told authorities that the horse is docile, and likely would have moved out of the way for equipment without coaxing. “She stated she believed that Leister was capable of killing or harming her animals,” a Sauk County Sheriff’s Department detective reported.
The detective located the skid-loader at another property, and a tenant who lives there said Leister told them about the incident. He allegedly admitted that he saw the horse get tangled in a blanket and begin to panic, flailing wildly. The witness said Leister left without helping the horse or notifying its owner.
Investigators report that Leister refused to speak with them when they showed up at his home to ask questions. Attempts to reach Leister by phone Friday were not successful.
This is not the first time Leister has been accused of becoming violent with a tenant. He was sentenced to 10 days in jail in relation to a 2008 dispute over unpaid rent.
In that case, Leister was accused of punching a female tenant, throwing her against a car, and then punching and choking her boyfriend. In an interview, Leister said he was defending himself, and that one of the tenants brandished a firearm during the dispute.
In 2005, Leister was accused of threatening Sauk Prairie Police Chief Jerry Strunz and his family for issuing him a drunken-driving ticket.