A jury has voted to indict a woman on two counts of animal cruelty following a police investigation that revealed she had over 300 dead animals in her Little Silver home, the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office announced Monday.
Gretchen Rell, 56, owns a home on Mitchell Place in Little Silver and also the Wanamassa section of Ocean Township. She is also known as Gretchen Rochkovsky.
In March, Little Silver Police were alerted that 15 Mitchell Place was filled with decomposing animals. Police discovered various types of birds, turtles, rabbits, mice, opossums, and other mammals that could not be identified.
Police, working with the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), learned that between January 2013 and March 2014, Rell took in numerous animals for purposes of temporary rehabilitation as a volunteer in the wildlife division of the SPCA.
But instead of rehabilitating the animals, the animals in her care died of starvation and dehydration, police say. Many of the animals were discovered still in their original sealed crates or boxes. (See images on NJ.com)
Rell appeared before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Anthony J. Mellaci, Jr., J.S.C. on Monday, where she was released on her own recognizance pending a future court appearance.
Rell is prohibited from having any animals in her care by conditions of her bail
Because she was someone who was entrusted with the care of the living animals, she faces charges of failure to provide the birds, turtles, rabbits, mice, opossums and other living mammals with necessary care, resulting in their death.
If convicted of animal cruelty, Rell could face a sentence of three to five years in prison.
The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Melanie Falco.
Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.