By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
Embattled former funeral home operator Marie Salts was charged Friday with five counts of animal cruelty.
The Prentiss County Sheriff’s Department arrested Salts when she entered the county to meet with its deputies about her five horses. They had been discovered three days earlier in various stages of starvation, said Sheila Horton of the nonprofit Have A Heart Horse Rescue.
Horton took possession of four horses – three mares and a gelding – after the arrest. The other horse, a mare, had to be euthanized due to severe wounds it received when dogs gnawed her hind quarters.
“She was too emaciated to get up and get away from the dogs,” Horton said. “They literally ate her alive.”
The charges against Salts are misdemeanors, but she faces felony charges in a previous case that already sent her to prison once.
In 2003, Salts and her husband, Michael, were indicted in Prentiss County on six counts of embezzlement of pre-need burial policy premiums through their funeral home in Booneville.
They were convicted on three counts of felony embezzlement and one misdemeanor count.
She was sentenced to two consecutive five-year sentences, fined $11,000 and ordered to pay $692 in restitution. Her husband received the same sentence, except without the possibility of parole because he was labeled a habitual offender because of prior convictions. But in March 2010, their convictions were thrown out by the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Mississippi, which ruled they were unconstitutionally convicted.
When the embezzlement convictions were vacated, Marie Salts’ house arrest was lifted. It’s during this time the horse neglect took place, Horton said.
Michael Salts remains in state custody. Marie Salts was booked in the Prentiss County Jail on Friday and has been released.
To help with the horses, contact Horton at (662) 871-5882.