BUCKHANNON — Two people were arrested this week for allegedly leaving behind three kittens after being evicted from their apartment, one of which died due to sickness and malnutrition.
John Joseph Halterman, 32, and Nikita Amber Swisher, 32, were each arrested on three counts of cruelty to animals, a misdemeanor. Swisher also faces three counts of driving while suspended, non-DUI, first offense.
According to the file in the magistrate clerk’s office, Patrolman Marshall O’Connor with the Buckhannon Police Department learned of the kittens while working a part-time maintenance job. The kittens were first discovered by coworkers on Oct. 15, O’Connor writes.
“On Oct. 15, 2018, I was notified by coworkers at my part-time maintenance job of three kittens that were left behind in apartment 89 Kelson Drive, alive with cat (not kitten) food, no water, and appearing sick,” O’Connor writes in the complaint. “The residents of this apartment, John Halterman and Nikita Swisher, were evicted with a lease ending date of Oct. 31.”
However, O’Connor learned the pair had last stayed at the apartment on Oct. 9 and the electric was shut off on Oct. 10.
“Upon watching surveillance footage, the residents return a few times between the date of Oct. 10 and Oct. 15,” O’Connor writes. “During these visits the residents did not take the kittens out of the apartment.”
While off duty and working his maintenance job on Oct. 16, O’Connor had to enter the apartment to assist Mon Power. He checked on the kittens and found one had died.
“At this time I seized all three kittens and turned over possession of them to animal control,” O’Connor writes.
The kittens had all been alive the previous day, when maintenance workers left water for the animals, according to the criminal complaint.
“On Oct. 26 I was notified that the cause of death for kitten 3 was a combination of sickness and malnutrition,” O’Connor writes in the complaint.
While investigating the animal cruelty case, O’Connor reviewed security footage which allegedly showed Swisher driving three times – on Oct. 10, Oct. 13 and Oct. 16. Her license is suspended with an effective date of April 4, according to the complaint.
Bond was set at $13,000 for Swisher and $10,000 for Halterman. Both are ordered not to be around any animals while on bond.
The penalty for cruelty to animals is confinement in jail for not more than six months and/or a fine of $300-$2,000. Driving while suspended, non-DUI, first offense, carries a potential fine of $100-500.