PALMETTO, Fla. - It has been exactly two months since Phedras De Blondel was led out of his stall at Imperial Farms Equestrian Center in Manatee County and butchered. There are still no suspects. But, the owner of the center believes one of the men who killed his show horse returned to the farm last week to kill again.
“It was 4:30 in the morning last Thursday, he was going stall to stall with a flashlight,” Steve Stephens said.
Stephens installed thousands of dollars in hi- tech laser alarm wires, cameras, and steel rails to keep horses in and alert authorities to anyone who tries to break into the stalls.
“He got too close to a stall and with our laser security it broke the laser and set off the alarm,” Stephens said.
At first, Stephens thought another cat had set off the alarm, which has happened a couple times since the system was installed in November. Once the area was checked and the alarms were turned off Stephens didn’t think anything of it and the responding law enforcement were called off. Then he reviewed the surveillance video and noticed something he didn’t expect.
“It was not a good feeling for sure, not a good feeling to know god somebody's doing it again,” Stephens said.
Phedras De Blondel was found butchered in a very secluded part of the farm with direct access to a major road. He was houses in a stable closest to that road. The recent horse brought in was housed in the same area. And the similarities between the two horses doesn’t stop there.
“He was purchased on the same shopping trip as Phedras but was not cleared to come over. There wasn't room on the plane he had to wait for a flight, stuff like that,” Stephens said. “And the same carriers brought him over. He came out of same quarantine in Miami. So, you start to say is there a connection here is somebody just watching that station.”
Stephens said that is his hunch. And he believes Phedras De Blondel may have been targeted because of the quality of his meat.
“There are horses all over. We had the horse come in through quarantine that was passed through the USDA, and was cleared as what they call ‘clean’ so he was basically food consumable. I guess maybe they are looking after this clean bill of health out of the quarantine.”
At this point, investigators have not confirmed any connection. They released surveillance pictures of two potential suspects but have not made any arrests.
Stephens said he will install more lights, more cameras, hire off duty security guards, and protect his horses. He hopes, if the men do come back, all of his technology will catch them before they can kill again.
“When will it end?” Stephens asked. “I just don’t know.”
There is a $30,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest.
You can see the GoFundMe page here:
The amount raised is more than $50,000. Stephens said the extra money is going towards a non-profit to help convict Phedras De Blondel’s killers once they are arrested.