BOTTINEAU - The Bottineau County Sheriff's Department and the North Dakota Stockmen's Association's joint investigation into the death of a miniature horse Sept. 24 has resulted in the judgment that the death was an accident.
No charges will be filed against those who struck the horse that night.
The original story on the death of the Shetland pony named Bad Boy that appeared in Oct. 18's The Minot Daily News touched readers in owner Dave Boppre's telling of the events that led to the horse's death. The newspaper has continued to receive calls and email messages asking for further information on the death that sickened many.
In this undated photo, submitted by owner Dave Boppre of Bottineau, Bad Boy, a Shetland pony, can be seen at left with his friend, Goldie, who he lived with on the Boppre farm.
The complete investigation documents have been released through a public records request sent to the Bottineau County State's Attorney's office.
"Saturday morning when I got up about 9 a.m. the Appolosa horse was out in the yard so we put him in the pasture," wrote Kathy Boppre, Dave's wife, in an undated statement. "Goldie was in the pen I did not see Bad Boy so I called for him he did not come usually when I call for him he comes running he did not come so Dave + I went driving looking for him we went up north."
It had rained the previous day so the ground was soft and Kathy and Dave saw hoof prints clearly along the roadway. They continued on down to what the locals call "Airport Road."
"I yelled at Dave there is my horse laying in the ditch," Kathy continued. "He stopped I made him go look he said yes it was Bad Boy + he said he was dead."
"He was laying on his side. The hair was off the side that was up. We noticed his halter was broke the officer took pictures and they rolled him over to get his broken halter off. On the other side of him all the hair was off his side and the hide was off his face and the meat was gone all the way to the bone."
So Dave and Kathy led a police officer to where they saw a streetlight had fallen over onto an approach about three-quarters of a mile from the home. From there they followed Bad Boy's tracks to the top of the hill, "where on the right you could tell from how far apart ... his stride was that he was running and there were tire tracks following his into the ditch of the right side of the road ... he went to the left side of the road + so did the tire tracks."
She continues in detail describing how his running tracks were followed all across the roadway by tire tracks. Where his body was found on Airport Road was about five miles from where the struggle appeared to end and where those that hit him claim they left his body.
In other statements given to investigators, it appears three people who had some time off in Williston decided to spend it exploring the Bottineau area for the weekend.
"After my sister got off work, her boyfriend Seth had picked us up in his truck around 6 p.m.," wrote Andy Wilder, of Williston, in a Nov. 25 letter to Fred Frederikson, an investigator with the NDSA. "Seth had been showing me around the hills and the lakes since I'm not familiar with that area."
And that's how the trip began, but they decided to head back from the sightseeing to meet up with some of Wilder's friends between 8 and 9 p.m., by his estimate.
"We had come over the hill about 50-60 mph my guess, because I wasn't the one driving," Wilder continued in his statement. "Seth was the driver, I was the passenger front and my sister was in the seat behind me. When we had come over the hill there was two horses right at the bottom facing west, Seth tried to stop and swerve to the right (west), the one horse, a quarter horse I believe had turned east and ran up the hill and the (Shetland) pony had (spooked) and ran straight toward the truck."
One of Frederikson's own documents sheds light on how the leads were developed.
"Sheriff (Steve) Watson gave information where the horse had been found and where evidence had been found miles away showing the horse had been hit by a Chevy pickup with aggressive tires had been involved. A fog lamp had been found at the scene," he wrote.
"The right side of the horse had most of (its) hide rubbed off from road rash. There were numerous rumors going around the area. Some saying the horse had been chased and dragged behind the vehicle," he continued.
"I was given the name of Seth Pedie of Bottineau as the driver. (Passengers) were his girl friend (minor's name withheld) and her brother ... The pickup belonged to Seth's father Mark Pedie and had damage to the left front and was missing the fog lamp on the front," he wrote.
He got permission from Mark Pedie's wife to inspect the pickup, which had front end damage and a piece of hide that was shipped out for analysis at the State Crime Lab in Bismarck.
Frederikson then question the minor girl and her parents and were told a story that corroborates Wilder's story
"It was an accident," Frederikson wrote in summary of the minor girl's statement. "That they came over hill heading south in the early evening. The lights on the truck were poor from dirt. There were two horses on the road. The larger horse on the east side of the road and the small one on the west side of the road. Seth Pedie was driving and was trying to stop but was unable to stop and the ditches were too steep and the truck might have rolled."
"When the truck came to a stop Seth and Andy got out and found the horse dead on the east shoulder of the road. (Minor girl) never got out of the truck but she was told the horse was dead," the statement continued.
She "said they left the horse on the side of the road at the accident scene and she has no idea how it got moved to the airport road. ... They were all scared about what had happened and didn't want to get into trouble so that is why they didn't call the Sheriff's Department. She said they hadn't been drinking and that it was just an accident that they had left the horse on the side of the road."
In several statements, and as summarized by Frederikson, Mark and Seth "both said the reason they kept quiet was that all the rumors that started the next day of the horse being chased and dragged for miles. Both now agree they should have contacted someone that night when the accident happened. Seth said he never moved or had anyone move the dead horse from where the accident happened."
A Sept. 15 in-progress investigative report filed by Deputy Brett Naill of the Bottineau County Sheriff's Department, though, corroborates Kathy Boppre's statement that Bad Boy had been followed by a truck.
"There were two sets of hoof prints on the road," Naill wrote. "A normal sized horse was travelling South on the East side of the road while a mini horse was travelling South on the West edge of the road. David (Boppre) told Deputy Naill his neighbor('s) ... horse was staying at his house ... It appeared that the vehicle that struck the mini horse had been following behind it. David pointed out the scene the normal sized horse tracks had horse manure lying in the tracks. David said the animal had to be moving at a quick pace for the manure to come off the hoof. The tracks left by the vehicle drive on the right hand side of the road and it appeared the right tires were off the road in the ditch. The tire tracks follow right behind the tracks made by the mini horse."
Mark Pedie, Seth's father, though, seemed to think there was a conspiracy by the Bottineau Sheriff's Department to frame his son for the death of Bad Boy, according to a statement filed on Sept. 14 by Deputy Cole Watson of the Sheriff's Department.
"At 5:11 p.m. (on Nov. 11)," Watson wrote, "Mark called Deputy Watson highly agitated saying he felt Seth was being set up. Mark was very angry because Deputy Watson agreed to make sure that Sheriff Watson and Fred Fredrikson would not go up to the property unless he was there. ... Mark stated Brandi (Pedie, Seth's mother) told him they found hair under the vehicle. Mark stated he thought it was planted because Sheriff Watson was trying to set up Seth. Deputy Watson stated he did not or would not entertain the idea that Sheriff Watson would do something like that."
In a later interview with his father present, Seth expressed remorse that Bad Boy had died and what had happened. He also said that he would have reported the incident sooner but when the horse was found five miles away from the death with his hide and flesh gone from his face he was scared and that he did not know how the horse got there.
"Mark Pedie remarks that there is no skin on the horse," said a summary of that interview session. "That a person drug it and the halter fell off and it is broke and it is down town. Who in the hell is going to come in and admit to that, nobody, nobody in their right mind."