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Scores of dead animals found at South Carolina rental property

Laurens County, S.C., Sheriff's Office

Rebecca Smith Keith of Laurens, S.C., and her two daughters were free on misdemeanor animal cruelty charges.

Three South Carolina women face court hearings on animal abuse charges after sheriff's deputies serving an eviction notice found more than 80 dead animals — including baby deer — littered around their property, court records show.

"I guess you could say they're like family," one of the women said of the dead animals.

The women — identified in Laurens County jail records as Rebecca Smith Keith, 58, and her daughters, Amanda Keith Woolf, 33, and Sara Janette Keith, 31 — were arrested Thursday. They were freed on $5,000 bond apiece and were scheduled for preliminary court appearances on July 5.

Sara Keith, who records show lives at the rental property in Laurens with her mother, was charged with "mistreating an animal in general." Rebecca Keith and Woolf, who lives at a separate address in nearby Waterloo, were charged with failing to bury a dead animal. All of the charges are misdemeanors.

Laurens County Sheriff's Lt. Judy Stiles told NBC station WYFF of Greenville, S.C., that the animals had been dead for some time.

"It was all sorts of animals — dogs, cats, birds and even baby deer," Stiles said. Some of the carcasses were found in the refrigerator and the freezer, she said.

Woolf told WSPA-TV of Spartanburg that she and her relatives "didn't want to leave them behind."

Woolf told the station that a veterinarian had told them it was OK to keep animals in the freezer. But the property's landlord, Jason English, said power to the home had been cut off.

"My nightmares have nightmares about what we saw," English told WSPA.

Laurens County court records show that earlier this month, Sara Keith was sentenced to 20 days in jail for "ill treatment" and "overworking" of animals. Details of that case weren't available Sunday.

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