By Mike Schuh

CHARLES COUNTY, Md. (WJZ)–Police in Charles County are tracking down leads in an unusual case of animal cruelty. A horse was shot.

But as Mike Schuh reports, the horse was anything but ordinary.

At 23, Kim Fullerton is a college student, world champion equestrian and heartbroken.

On her family farm she raises show horses. Six years ago, she bought an untrained Kentucky 2-year-old whose coat was covered in fungus and tail bent.

That horse, Bender, won big in 2009.

“We were reserve national champions,” Fullerton said.

In 2010, better things were on the way. They won the world championship, and Bender was named horse of the year.

“He was in that far field over there by the shed with the gate over there,” Fullerton said.

These days, she talks about Bender in the past tense.

A few weeks ago, Fullerton came out to feed Bender. But “that morning, he wasn’t at the gate,” Fullerton said. “He was in the middle of the field in a pool of blood.”

Bender had been shot in what Fullerton describes as “the equivalent of your knee.”

With damage there, she knew it was hopeless. The vet put down Bender.

Just on the other side of the farm, there is a highly traveled road. In the past few years there have been three shootings off that road.

“Since 2008, there have been two other reports of animal cruelty to horses in the area,” said Diane Richardson, Charles County Sheriff’s Office. 

“Everyday my heart breaks because I miss him so much,” Fullerton said. “I feel like I’m never going to replace a piece in my heart because he was more than a partner, more than a horse.”

Fullerton says Bender’s killer must have gotten a sick thrill and she hopes more victims come forward so the killer is caught.

The sheriff’s department has to determine motive. The charges could range from destruction of property to animal cruelty.

Comments (54)
  1. bernard Mc Kernan says:

    Put a gun in the hands of ignorant red necks & this is their idea of entertainment.
    What a shame man.

    1. ron says:

      couldnt agree with you more, red necks think this is funny. its truly sad

    2. Caroline says:

      Put a gun in the hand of a criminal in this is what they do.

    3. Heather says:

      So sorry to bust your ugly little bubble but NOT all rednecks think that something like this is funny. It was likely the same type of person that would punch an elderly horse in the mouth and cut his tail hair off. Someone who for his/her next thrill will start taking pot shots at humans cause animals just don’t do it for them anymore.

      1. Susan Butler says:

        Yes, it is offensive to categorize red necks as people who would do this for fun. And maybe it is time for us to remember where the term comes from. It is from hardworking people bent over in the sun so their necks became burned, or red. Sick people come in all shapes, sizes, color, economic class, etc. What bothers me the most, that is beyond the horror of finding your beloved horse dying, is the penalty for the crime. First degree murder seems about right.

    4. Tiffany Duvall says:

      u ever think somebody was hunting in that wooded area and was to affraid to come forward ?

    5. william harper says:

      were the beltway snipers rednecks????? stupid boy….

  2. urnotfunny says:

    Another example of inhumane trash running the streets and hurting innocent animals. They couldn’t stand up to a real man, that’s why they hurt animals, hopefully a person won’t be next.

  3. Shannon says:

    So sad, he was a beautiful horse. I hope you find closure!

  4. Don says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about Bender. When they find these low lifes, they should tie them to the back of a horse and let the horse pull them down a road with nails and broken glass. They’ll get what they deserve in the end for sure!!!!!!!!!!

    1. ;-) says:

      Nonsense. The glass and nails may injure the horse

      1. LadyShifter says:

        drawn and quartered, like they did in the middle ages, then, the horses don’t get hurt!

      2. Judith says:

        I love how people get so enrage and worked up over this, yet when literally BILLIONS of animals are killed per year for you to shove them in your mouths, that’s just fine. And if you think those animals live their lives on vast, open farms and are treated in humane ways, you are kidding yourselves. I am sure one of you has already stopped by McDonald’s or Chick-Fil-A for lunch. Killing is killing, for food or sick sport. All life is equal. A horse is no more valuable than a chicken.

      3. Chichi says:

        What about all the poor veggies you shove into your mouth? They have feelings too!! 🙂 Still, it’s a terrible thing to shoot a horse like that. I hope that the criminal (s) is found and locked up.

      4. Judith says:

        ChiChi, you are mentally twisted and have to right to say that it is wrong this horse is dead, but perfectly okay that your burger tonight comes from a nice hormone-and-antibiotic injected cow.

      5. Judith says:

        I meant “you have NO right to say”

    2. gen81465 says:

      The punishment should fit the crime: shoot the perp in the kneecaps and let him/her crawl 20 miles to the nearest hospital.

      1. Duales says:

        thats still too good for them. A person can survive a broker knee cap.

  5. Jessi says:

    My heart goes out to the owner and to Bender. It is unthinkable that someone can actually do this. But I wonder if the previous cases were a ruse and someone shot him out of jealousy? I’ve heard of cases where that has happened. In any event, it’s unacceptable, and clearly Bender’s owner is deserving of justice as is he.

  6. Barbara Euler Hutchison says:

    You and your family have our hearts and our sympathy – after working with a horse rescue in PA I know how cruel and hateful people can be – we are supposed to be a civilized nation but we have a long way to go !! Some of the atrocities and images will never leave my mind – Americans still wear fur, still kill and torture for sport – please know that Bender loved you for what you did for him and all animals go to heaven – that’s what will make it heaven for some of us !! God bless you and your family –

  7. Karen Wolfe says:

    The guilty person should suffer the same fate. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

  8. Carol says:

    So sad. People who harm animals are the slime of the earth and should be treated as such. I hope they find who did this terroble thing and punish them.
    When you have horses, dogs and kitties you always worry about some idiot hurting them.

  9. Judycee says:

    After the mistrial in the case of Phoenix, and the young cat that was set on fire, this is another animal abuse case that shows that the State Attorney’s Office needs to start taking these cases seriously and prosecute the individuals that commit these crimes. Bender’s story sounds as though jealousy may be involved, as he was shot in what is essentially the knee on a horse, and the intent of that kind of injury was probably meant to permanently disable him so he could no longer compete. Unfortunately, it cost Bender his life. There has been too much of this loss of life. These animals were someone’s beloved pet, a family member. They put their trust in you and offer their love in return. I’m sure Phoenix was a much loved little puppy at one time. The people who do these things to animals have no respect for life, what so ever. As a pet owner, I think the laws need to change and these criminals need to receive the full sentence.

    1. donnamartingraduates says:

      I agree, it sounds like jealousy was involved. I hope the family can think of who might’ve been spiteful enough to do this and that that person, or persons are caught.

      I’m sorry Kim, my thoughts are with you:(

  10. Jim says:

    Who are we to say a horse is more important than a cow or pig? I dont in any way think this is ok, and feel so bad for this young lady, but do you get what Im saying??

    1. Pat says:

      The insurance company for one. I guarantee you that champion horses have pricey insurance policies on them while your common farm pig or cow does not. Completely different. These horses can be worth tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Not only is it animal cruelty but it is a significant loss of property as well.

      1. Heartwings says:

        You could not be more wrong, you obviously know nothing about horses. Outside of horse racing, there are very few equestrian events where there are significant amounts of prize money. I think the most I ever won was about ten or twenty dollars LOL, not enough to pay for the expenses to travel to the show.

        The horse was a gelding (castrated), so his monitary value was not that high since he could not be used for breeding. He competed in the lower levels of dressage, which is not a high ticket great publicity TV coverage big prize money (if any) thing like Thoroughbred racing is. Most people don’t even know what dressage is and that you generally do not make money doing it. Very few non-breeding dressage horses are insured since they earn little if any prize money and Morgan horses are not generally among the breeds that compete in the upper echelons of the sport such as at the Olympics. Being a champion does not mean a horse is worth a significant amount of money, it just means it has won some competitions held by anything from the local pony club to the state or national breed organization. There are thousands of champion show horses in the country, most likely tens of thousands. It is highly unlikely this was done for “insurance money” as there probably wasn’t any and does she strike you as that sort of person? Do you have any idea what it costs to insure a horse? It is not cheap and the purchase price of the horse (which was very low in Bender’s case) factors into it. The horse was priceless to Kim, but he was not worth any substantial amount of money like the horses in the Kentucky Derby, Grand Prix eventing and show jumping or the Olympics are. She spent far more traveling to show the horse than she could have sold him for.

        I am truly sorry that this happened and my heart goes out to Kim. Bender was a gorgeous horse with lovely form and the perfect example of what believing & working hard can do. I hope the person(s) responsible are caught and I know what I would do to them.

    2. Judith says:

      i agree, Jim. These commenters don’t realize the irony because every time they lift a burger or chicken leg to their lips they are contributing to animal cruelty, torture, and execution. Actually, on a much worse scale because of the living conditions these animals are subjected to live in before they are transformed into their food. Guess that’s okay though and only show horses should be treated like humans.

    3. Heartwings says:

      If this had been her cherished pet cow or pig, it would not have hurt any less or been any less illegal & disgusting. The animal was shot for fun and left to slowly suffer until he eventually would have died- that is NOT the same thing. I am not saying killing food animals is painless for them as there are “misses” and they do sometimes suffer, but that is not the norm as it is done quickly to be efficient and save money. (Not saying it’s right, but that’s what happens.) Do you get what I am saying? The horse was her persoanl property and her beloved friend that she spent countless hours with and that is what matters.

      1. bernard F Mc Kernan says:

        Heartwings & Judith, What are we supposed to eat in our diet, wheat germ & alfalfa?
        Protein comes from meat. I never ever have seen an older healthy looking vegetarian. They’re all gaunt with no color in their faces. Meat was created by the Lord just like fish & chickens for man to use but use wisely.

      2. Judith says:

        LOL. Bernard- how the HELL do you know that God intended for us to eat animals? Perhaps by your logic, God intended animals to eat us! After all, they are built as much better hunters than we are- looks like God designed lions to have some nice mouth-daggers for which to skewer you. Get real. No older “healthy-looking” vegetarian? I see, now good health is determined by looks and the shade of your skin. You can be pale and healthy. I am naturally pale and healthy. I had rosacea and pimples like all hell when I was in my 20s and 30s eating meat. In my whole family, the biggest meat eaters are the ones who have had the most heart disease, heart attacks, and diabetes. Stop spewing uneducated “information”. You are wrong. I bet you have some health problem and if you changed your diet it would help.

  11. Heather says:

    The Killer should be in jail with the killers of phenox the dog. whats wrong with people???!!!

    1. vegetarian & healthy says:

      @Bernard McKnownothing

      Oh how funny Bernard! Where did you get your info? Why don’t you put your Big Mac down and Google to check your facts? Beef is about 25% protein and wheat germ 28%. Wheat germ contains healthy fiber and meat contains NO FIBER. Wheat germ contains NO CHOLESTEROL and beef has plenty. Ever hear doctors say people need more fiber and less cholesterol in their diets? Oh yeah, wheat germ is a lot cheaper& more eco friendly to produce too. Alfalfa sprouts are the only form of it people routinely eat and they have 35% protein and, again, fiber and no cholesterol. When you spout off nonsense like yours and have NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT it shows what a moron you are!

      “Vegetarians are all gaunt with no color in their faces?” Oh, so you have the power to look at people and know they are vegetarians? Wow! Anyone will tell you being thinner is healthier than the majority of Americans that are fat. Vegetarians do tend to be thinner than meat eaters, that is true. Vegetarians tend to have lower body mass index, lower levels of cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and less incidence of heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, renal disease, osteoporosis, dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders. Gee, that sounds like a pretty good deal to me, especially since a vegetarian diet is cheaper too!

      Protein can also come from sources like nuts, beans, seeds, whole grains, algae, lentils and, unless one is vegan, also from eggs and dairy products. There is no reason to eat meat and all essential nutrients can easily be provided by a vegetarian or vegan diet.

      Some “gaunt” vegetarians/vegans:
      Carl Lewis won 10 Olympic medals in track & field & Edwin Moses won 4
      Jack LaLanne (who did eat fish occasionally) looked pretty good to me and could swim 20 miles up into his 90’s. Can you?
      Paavo Nurmi won 12 Olympic medals for ling distance running
      Pro wrestler “Killer Kowalski ” vegetarian muscles
      Johnny Weissmuller who played Tarzan in the old movies- gosh he looked pretty buff to me!
      Jim Morris — Mr America 1973 & Mister Olympia 1996
      actresses Natalie Portman & Pamela Anderson- yeah they look soooo gaunt, pale & sickly. Poor Richard Gere looks like he is about to drop too, huh?

      There are vegetarians & vegans playing all sorts of pro sports, bodybuilding and doing everyday average jobs. They do tend to be a more healthy weight (if you call that gaunt) and more health conscious, so they probably do avoid skin cancer causing excessive sun exposure and wear sunscreen, so they are probably paler. Oh yeah, they live longer too.

  12. Bubbish says:

    Such a terrible story to read. Bender was breath-taking, and it sickens me to think some moron shot this poor animal just for fun. I thought of the Rainbow Bridge and Bender when I read this article. Stay strong, Kim. Karma is a b—-!
    And for Jim- I have a senior TB mare who isn’t worth much to anyone, except me. She is priceless in my eyes. And the day you see someone riding dressage on a pig or doing a 3-day event on a cow, let me know. That I wanna see!

  13. Judith says:

    This is not good- the horse belonged to someone else and these idiots knew it wasn’t a wild mare to go hunt down.

    That being said, I agree with a previous poster. Why is this horse any different than the (literally) billions of chickens, cows, pigs, fish and more that are slaughtered each and every day and who live in deplorable conditions. Most of you condemning this are probably preparing tonight’s dinner of fried chicken, burgers, steak, fish fillets, or spiral ham. Talk about treating animals wrong. Do any of you actually know what happens to Purdue chickens, Smithfield pigs, and Burger King’s cows? Please wake up and stop thinking you are all not responsible for the torture and slaughter of animals just as the suspects in this case are- because you probably are every day when you lift that sandwich up to your lips!!!

    1. donnamartingraduates says:

      Well, I’m not responsible. I don’t eat animals, and thank you for bringing attention to that matter, but it’s a little out of place here. Even as a vegan or vegetarian, you must understand that that’s life, it’s unfortunate but ranting about it on here won’t fix it; your comment won’t change anyone’s mind about tonight’s dinner or the next night.

      This girl’s horse, her friend as far as I’m concerned, was shot and had immense pain inflected upon him for fun or for some other awful reason and that’s the problem here. Trust me, I understand how you feel but seriously, back off, don’t try to make her or her family, or anyone else, feel guilty for mourning the loss of this horse or being angry at the people who did it.

      1. Judith says:

        Oh God, get real! Killing is killing- A horse is a horse is a cow is a chicken- they are all living animals and the fact that this one happened to be treated like a human doesn’t mean it is any different than your dead rotisserie chicken from Giant. Just because some rich girl’s horse was killed doesn’t mean it should make the news because animals are killed and abused every day.

  14. Terri Aaron says:

    As an animal lover I am mortified at this. I pray you, Kim, find peace. I pray you, killer/animal/POS, finds death. That horse was a WAY better person than you will EVER be!

    1. Nightowl says:


      Oh, so rich victims of crimes are different????

      People are killed and abused every day too, so let’s just sweep that under the rug as well and the news can be all about who the Ravens are playing, what Lindsay Lohan got arrested for this time and which politician got caught with his pants down. Get real, this is news because people care about it and the fact that there is some criminal sicko with a high powered rifle running around out there. First livestock and then kids on the playground- plenty of research to prove that violent criminals start with animals first and then move on to people. I can only hope you, Judith, are one of them.

      The horse was someone’s pet and property and this was a dangerous crime so we should all care about it. Like someone said, It is irrelevant that it was a horse and not a cow or turkey or whatever. No, I don’t eat animals anymore- amazing how my health improved not long after I quit & my cholesterol is normal now. I hope they catch whoever did it and shoot them in the leg and leave them there to suffer and die in a pool of their own blood. No wait that would be too good for them.

      1. Judith says:

        “plenty of research to prove that violent criminals start with animals first and then move on to people. I can only hope you, Judith, are one of them.” Thank you for posting a death threat against me. I will consider if I should alert the authorities or not.

  15. Lady Shirley says:

    It makes you wonder what it would feel like if the person who shot Bender had the same thing done to them. Not a bad idea of you ask me. People who abuse animals are heartless sickos!

  16. Bubbish says:

    Wow, Judith, sounds like your hormones are acting up again. Maybe PMS?
    Not all of us are meat eaters, you know. I stopped eating meat when a semi loaded with cattle passed me on the freeway one day. The cows looking out borke my heart, and I vowed right then to never eat meat again. And how many animal rescues do you support? Or do you just flap your pie hole? I support 3 horse rescues, save horses from going to auction for slaughter, and volunteer at a no-kill shelter. Save your breath, hop back onto your broom, and go try to stop a house from falling on your sister.

    1. Judith says:

      Wonderfully mature Bubbish. However, you miss my point completely. I am LIVID that this horse was killed, however I am also mad that humans think they somehow have the right to “rank” life and decide that a showhorse’s slaughter should be made into a big whoop-de-do yet if someone’s pet chicken, lizard, goldfish, or even dog was killed, it would not make news. I am trying to figure out if these commenters would equally mourn the death of a goldfish, because who is to say a horse’s life is more valuable or important? Is that because it is larger and acts more similarly to a human? There is a lot of hypocrisy in this thread.

      1. Bubbish says:

        Yes, animals are slaughtered everyday; however, this wasn’t the time to jump on a soap box and preach about it. The story was about a colt who was in terrible shape and went on to become a champion event horse. The hours of time and training Kim put into him don’t come close to the place he held in her heart. But because perhaps she was able to afford to train and show her horse, you make the snide comment that only show horses belonging to rich people are worthy of news. Lame. Are you happy when numerous farm animals perish in, say, a barn fire, or maybe a traffic accident? I guess you just shrug your shoulders and say : “Oh, well!” Unless you are a horse owner (which, from your lofty and insensitive remarks, you obviously aren’t) you would not know the pain when you have to see a beloved horse put down. Old age, disease..whatever…it is devastating to experience, but you know it has to be done for the sake of the horse. What makes this more tragic is that Bender, in his prime, was shot for sport by some twisted psycho, and didn’t deserve to die as he did. Watch “Earthlings” narrated by Joaquin Phoenix – quite an eye opener

      2. Judith says:

        Well, it’s true! How often do you hear of someone’s cherished and loved dog killed by a thug in west/east Baltimore make the news? I have valid points. PETS ARE KILLED EVERY DAY and they are every bit as loved as this “champion” girl’s horse. It’s only because they are not a “world renowned equestrian” that their stories don’t make the news. It is true. Sounds callous, but you can’t argue the fact. Please enter reality.

  17. Kris says:

    I am a horse lover, and this tragic. My heart goes out to the family.
    . I believe that “Judith” is saying that sadly, every day in this country, countless animals are killed for food and “fun” (hunting for “sport). At one “hog processing” facility, 19,000 hogs are slaughtered daily. That so many animals suffer and die daily at the hands of humans is tragic. I believe 4 billion animals are slaughtered for consumption in the US each year.

    The ‘humans” who did this obviously have mental health issues. One day, i believe that hunting for “sport” will also be seen as the mental health issue that it is. Humans who kill other humans for “fun” are called sociopaths. Humans who kill other beings for “fun” are called “sportsmen”. They aren’t men and nor is it “sport”.

    1. Judith says:

      I agree 100% Kris – it is a horiffic event, but not one that deserves more attention than any of the other animal slaughtering that goes on every day. We turn a blind eye because they are not championship horses. ALL LIFE is equal- we need to stop being the judges of what animal is worthy enough to have it’s death cared about.

  18. Wyoming says:

    All of you forget what you came on here for—the horse! Its not about killing for food, sport etc. Being a vegetarian is a choice and a personal one at that, either you are or you arent and there is nothing wrong with either. Quit whining about such unimportant life style choices. Animal cruelty is a big problem in this country but if you eat meat that doesnt mean you support it. THere is a time and a place for personal opinions and this is not one of them. I own 3 horses, 3 dogs , 1 cat, 9 chickens and i hunt for my meat. Im also a veterinary technician for over 20 years so no i do not condone cruelty and never will. Let each person decide what is right for them and leave it at that! I feel for the lady and her horse and hope that they catch and prosecute all involved, good luck…Wyoming

    1. Judith says:

      Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I see hypocrisy in your lifestyle and you are just at fault as whoever killed that horse in my opinion. Killing is killing, taking a life is taking a life, be it for food or otherwise. Thank You.

      1. Stacey V-AwarenessHelps Citraro says:

        Thank you, Judith for helping to educate others! You have provided great information that I hope others will think about. If it wasn’t for you, I may have started with that conversation.. I am aware of what you have shared about animals used for food and it is because of ethical concerns that I became vegetarian. I created my website to help spread the word about this and much more at || Keep up the good fight!!

  19. C. R. H. says:

    Let me point out the hypocrisy in your life style. You believe killing is bad no matter what you kill for. Do you also believe that gods creatures should die of disease and overpopulation? How about starvation? There is a big bad world out there that you can not see. You see Judith you and our friend the ostrich have a lot in common you both have your head in the sand and your behind hanging out for everyone to point and laugh at.

    Part of being highly evolved means that we must have enough feeling for the things around us to do the right thing and put suffering to an end. If that means KILLING then so be it. God help you woman, hell will be a wonderful place for you.

    I also recomend that you take up nagging our troops and protesting the armed services. Put the granola down buckle down your burkenstocks and start doing something besides running your fingers across the keyboard.


  20. Stacey V-AwarenessHelps Citraro says:

    Bender was absolutely beautiful and even though I did not know him, it hurts me to look at his photo knowing he is gone. All I can do is shake my head in disgust and hope those responsible burn in hell. I am so sorry for your loss.

  21. Alan Parise says:

    Some genuinely superb articles on this website , appreciate it for contribution.

  22. Barrier Gate says:

    Wonderful beat ! I wish to apprentice at the same time as you amend your site, how could i subscribe for a weblog website? The account helped me a acceptable deal. I were tiny bit familiar of this your broadcast provided vibrant clear concept

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Watch & Listen LIVE