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Benscoter in custody

FARMINGTON — A woman who was wanted by police for allegedly abandoning several dogs at a flea-infested property at Iron Mountain Lake is in jail. Tamara L. Benscoter, 46, Bismarck, was taken into custody by St. Francois County Warrant Officer Steve Rion on Nov. 19. She was picked up at a residence on Zola Road.

The dogs were seized from the property on Sept. 25 by the Iron Mountain Lake Police Department and the Humane Society of Missouri. In October Associate Circuit Judge Thomas Ray awarded ownership of the dogs to the Humane Society of Missouri. Benscoter, who was wanted at the time on six counts of felony animal abuse, did not attend the hearing.

In addition to the animal abuse charges, she also has a bad check charge, according to police.

According to the probable cause statement, Iron Mountain Lake Police Chief Michael Kemp observed Benscoter driving away from the property on Sept. 9. Her car was filled with propane tanks, birds in cages and a .22 caliber-bolt-action rifle.

“When questioned about our report of animal neglect, she admitted the dogs currently lacked food and water and she said she would be back with some dog food,” Kemp said in the statement.

Kemp said she granted permission to check the well-being of the dogs and enter onto the property.

“We found some of the dogs had rainwater in various buckets,” Kemp said. “The water to the property was shut off and padlocked. Only one dog had food in a large container.”

He said the dogs appeared to be relatively healthy and the officers wired a gate shut as they left.

Kemp and another officer went back to the location on Sept. 23 to discuss the rifle with Benscoter.

“No one was at the property,” Kemp said. “The gate that had been wired shut as we departed 13 days ago was still wired shut.”

In June of 2004, Benscoter and her husband Fred H. Benscoter were charged with several counts of misdemeanor animal abuse. The Humane Society of Missouri seized 119 animals from the couple’s residence located in Gumbo. Tamara Benscoter received probation for the offense.

Kemp said additional municipal charges will most likely be filed against Benscoter due to trash that was left on the property.

Her bond has been set at $110,000.

Chris Cline is a reporter for the Daily Journal. Contact him at 573-431-2010, ext. 114 or at

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