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Man accused of killing neighbor’s cows

UNITYVILLE — Criminal charges have been filed against a Jordan Township man accused of allegedly taking two of his neighbor’s cows, one of whom was found dead and another with a wound to its neck, according to state Trooper Anthony Mazzone.

Gary Colatosti, 60, of 145 S. Woods Road, has been charged with two counts each of aggravated cruelty to an animal, cruelty to an animal, theft, receiving stolen property and one count each of criminal mischief and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence.

The charges stem from the theft of “two bovine cattle heifers” belonging to the Kitzmiller farm in the 2700 block of Keller Hollow Road in early January, Mazzone said. One heifer was brown and the other was black.

Mazzone responded to the Kitzmiller farm on the morning of Jan. 8 when the property owner reported that “two of his cows had escaped pasture (the day before). They had escaped previously, and they always left the pasture together and would return together,” according to an affidavit prepared by the trooper.

Later in the afternoon on the same day, Jan. 7, “the brown cow returned home with a neck wound consistent of damage caused by a bladed object with frozen blood around the wound. The black cow did not return with the brown cow,” Mazzone said he was told.

“The demeanor of the brown cow had changed, acting skittish and scared, which was an unusual trait presented by the cow and different from its normal behavior,” Mazzone said.

“A family member that was searching the land saw cow trails leading to Colatosti’s backyard (on Jan. 8). They observed Colatosti burning a brush pile in his backyard with a propane tank and a torch. When a family member approached Colatosti, they saw a pile of guts at the bottom of the brush pile,” the trooper added.

When the trooper went to question Colatosti, he too saw the burning brush pile and noticed “a small blood trail leading” to the pile. “Colatosti said he did not see the black cow, but did see the brown one in the field, east of his property,” Mazzone said.

Later the same day, Jan. 8, Mazzone returned to Colatosti’s home about 1:30 p.m. “for a report of individuals fighting each other,” according to the affidavit.

When he arrived, no one was fighting, but members of Kitzmiller’s family and Colatosti “were yelling and arguing with each other,” the trooper said in the affidavit.

“The brush pile was still burning. I saw blood in the bed of his (Colatosti’s) pickup truck. I observed blood scattered all throughout the backyard that was not previously there” (at the time of the trooper’s first visit), Mazzone said.

“When questioned about the new blood trails in the snow in his backyard, Colatosti stated it was turned up by the tire marks on his tractor,” the trooper said.

Mazzone then talked again with members of the Kitzmiller family, who reported that the black cow had been found “dead down the road by identifying tire marks in the snow. They (family members) related that when Colatosti noticed my arrival to the scene, he began removing blood and hair out of the bed of his pickup.”

By a tree south of Colatosti’s home, Mazzone saw “four trash bags containing the quarters of a cow. The meat was warm and not frozen. There was black hair still located on some of the meat. Kitzmiller stated that the hair color was the same as his black cow,” according to the affidavit.

Four blood samples that were collected and sent to a lab were in fact bovine blood, Mazzone said.

Following his arraignment late Tuesday afternoon before District Judge Jon E. Kemp, Colatosti was released on $35,000 bail.

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