News reports set off flurry of anger
Ellen Mills says abuse charges have 'ruined their lives'
June 06, 2007
IMLAY TWP. — Now that the national wire services have picked up the story of a local family charged with animal torture and abuse, family members say their lives have been irreparably damaged.
Ellen Mills, who along with husband Mark and their two children, Kate and Andrew, was charged with animal killing, torture and neglect, adds that the family's lives and reputations "have been ruined."
The family is currently going through hearings in Lapeer Circuit Court to determine if prosecutors have sufficient evidence to take the case to trial.
The charges stem from a March 16 search conducted by Sheriff's deputies and Animal Control officers who found the carcasses of a dead horse and several dead sheep on the family's Weyer Road property.
Since then, the family has been the subject of numerous newspaper accounts reporting the allegations and subsequent court hearings.
It wasn't until the Associated Press and area television stations latched onto the story, though, that the story has taken on unexpected proportions.
In particular, she says it was several news organizations' reports that based on the allegations against daughter Kate, the Oakland County 4-H Club had decided to suspend her from her duties as 4-H queen.
"As soon as that story hit, everything went crazy," says Ellen. "To think that they've ruined my daughter's and all of our lives over this makes me angry. Now I want to go to trial."
Because of the plethora of media attention, Ellen says the Internet is filled with related stories and angry epithets toward the family, many of them directed specifically at Kate.
"There are sites online with maps directing people to our home," she says. "People react more to dead animals than they do to dead people. There are a lot of crazy people out there. It's scary. We can't even sleep at night."
The family's frustrations came to a head Sunday, when Ellen says someone hurled rocks and personal slurs at her daughter while she was walking to her car.
"I hope it was just young people," says Ellen. "They stopped in front of the house, threw rocks and then called her an animal killer," says Ellen. "My daughter is being referred to as the 'queen of mean.' For her name and reputation to be ruined like this is terrible. This has overtaken our lives."
For the time being, Ellen hopes Kate can escape any further slings and arrows. On Sunday, she left for Wisconsin to take part in a six-week veterinarian internship.
"My husband came in sobbing after he said goodbye to her," says Ellen. "Not just because we're going to miss her, but because we're sending her off without any support group to back her up."
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