A Marlow woman who was arrested on the weekend of Feb. 12 faces 113 charges related to the second degree murder of a woman and a puppy mill operation at the accused’s home.
According to court records, Karen Jean Pritchard, 49, of Marlow, faces one count of murder in the second degree after Stephens County Sheriff’s Office found the body of Ashely Nicole Anderson on Pritchard’s property. Pritchard also faces 112 charges of cruelty to animals for the puppy mill allegedly operated on her property in the 2400 block of N. Highway 81 in Marlow.
Stephens County Sheriff Wayne McKinney previously told The Banner his office believed Anderson, 31, was an employee of Pritchard’s.
According to an affidavit obtained from the courthouse, the investigation began after an individual entered the courthouse Friday morning and told law officers they allegedly had a conversation with Pritchard, who told them the victim, Anderson, was “dead inside her residence.” Pritchard, according to the reporting party, told the individual she “had backed into Ashley by accident in her truck a couple days before and that Ashley died, and that she drug her inside her house,” states an affidavit. The individual advised lawmen Anderson had not kept close contact with her family members.
McKinney said when deputies went to the home and made contact with Pritchard, she denied knowing Anderson’s whereabouts, but told deputies they had a fight, which according to the affidavit took place a few days before hand, and Anderson had left since then. The affidavit shows Pritchard said Anderson wouldn’t help with the dogs anymore.
Deputies also noticed the large amount of animals and felt animal cruelty might be involved, and moved to get a search warrant both to locate Anderson and for the welfare of the dogs, according to the police report.
While the search warrant was prepared, deputies asked Pritchard to go to the sheriff’s office for an interview. Reports show Pritchard was “hesitant at first” and when she began to get in the law officer’s vehicle, she asked if she needed a lawyer, reports state. Because deputies could not advise on this, Pritchard, according to reports, stopped to talk to someone on the phone and then stated she did not want to go with deputies, who had heard her on the phone stating “I just don’t know what to do.”
After obtaining a search warrant, deputies went back to the home to continue searching for Anderson and discovered how many animals there truly were on the property. They called in help from the Stephens County Humane Society, who also enlisted help from animal rescue teams from Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Washington, D.C.
McKinney said they found Anderson’s body about six hours into the search.
“After approximately six hours of searching we finally located the victim,” McKinney said. “A person deceased in an outbuilding quite a ways away from the home where they had been dragged to.”
The affidavit shows the body of Anderson was found by lawmen in a “blue … metal shipping container that was secured with a pad lock.” When officers took the lock off, they located a blue plastic tarp wrapped around the victim, who was deceased and lying face down on the floor. The tarp, according to reports, was secured with a rope on one end.
In an interview at the Sheriff’s Office, Pritchard told lawmen she and Anderson got into a fight about taking care of the dogs and Pritchard fired Anderson and told her she had to leave. According to the affidavit, Pritchard said Anderson had stayed in a trailer on the property, and after telling the victim she had to leave, Pritchard told law officers she got into a physical altercation with Anderson, but didn’t remember what day.
Pritchard, in the same interview, told investigators Anderson had left and returned the next day “acting psychotic” and the two got into another physical altercation, reports state. Pritchard again told lawmen she told Anderson to leave and told her to get in the truck, in the back of it, “because she stinks.” Pritchard told officers she drove to the gate and told Anderson to get out of the truck, but she refused. She told SCSO that Anderson allegedly “was hitting her own head on the side of the truck and hitting herself with a pipe.” Pritchard also told lawmen, according to the affidavit, Anderson began hitting the truck with the pipe.
At this point, Pritchard told officers she drove back to the house with Anderson and they continued to fight until Pritchard “flipped her out of the back of my truck onto the ground” affidavits state. Pritchard, in the interview, said they continued to argue and Pritchard went to go take care of some of the animals. Pritchard told investigators while she was driving to check on the animals she heard a noise, which was Anderson jumping onto the back of the pickup, according to a report. Pritchard told lawmen she told Anderson to get down.
Then, Pritchard told investigators Anderson got back into the truck again but needed help. When they drove back up to the home, Pritchard said Anderson fell “on the ground acting like a nut” and when she told Anderson to get up, she wouldn’t.
Pritchard said she called a friend to help Anderson up and tried lifting her before the friend could help, but Anderson began to shake and didn’t say anything after that, according to reports.
Pritchard, according to the affidavit, then described Anderson lying on the ground and said the friend helped get Anderson inside the home, where she was “placed just inside the door of the residence on the tile floor.”
Investigators noted in the report on Feb. 10 it was about 19 degrees outside and Pritchard advised the heat wasn’t working in the home.
When she was asked why she didn’t check on Anderson, Pritchard told lawmen, according to the report, she was “pi**** off” and “busy.” When asked if she went back to check on her, Pritchard told officers she freaked out, tried to wake Anderson up but couldn’t and put her in the tarp and “got her out of the house” after talking to a friend.
Pritchard said she used the rope “as a handle” and told officers she was in a container on the property. Investigators then questioned Pritchard about hitting Anderson with the truck, and Pritchard allegedly told them Anderson had a bloody nose but got back into the truck again. Pritchard also told investigators she had the truck in reverse “but didn’t go far backwards.” When asked why she didn’t call for an ambulance, Pritchard told lawmen she thought Anderson was fine.
Affidavits show on the property, they also found outbuildings with an “overbearing smell of ammonia” with “floors covered in feces” and all the water for the animals was frozen. The dogs, according to reports, were matted and covered with feces as well, and investigators found a total of 165 adults dogs and puppies. They also found one cat, two sheep and a horse on the property that appeared “extremely ill and had no protection from the cold.”
The charges were officially filed in Stephens County Court on Feb. 22, 2021. Pritchard’s bond was set at $1 million. Pritchard is scheduled to return to court for a preliminary hearing conference at 9 a.m. April 14, 2021.
A GoFundMe has been set up in Anderson’s name to help with funeral expenses. The goal is $2,200, and as of 4:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22, $720 had been raised for the victim’s funeral costs.
The money will be used to ease financial burden of the family, according to the GoFundMe. The GoFundMe can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/f/funeral-expense-for-ashley-anderson or donations can be made directly to Whitt Funeral Home in Duncan.