For The Essex Reporter

Essex officials were tight-lipped – or in the dark – this week about an investigation into a major case of reported animal cruelty in town.

The complaint was received about 2:30 p.m. Friday, April 27, but Essex officials didn’t acknowledge the incident until The Essex Reporter asked about a report of dozens of dead and underfed cows on Chapin Road.

Essex Police Lt. Rob Hall said he couldn’t confirm the specific address based on orders from Chief Rick Garey. Garey did not respond to multiple messages by deadline Tuesday.

The department has not updated its activity log on the town website since November 2017.

Municipal Town Manager Evan Teich also did not respond to messages.

“We do not have any comment on an ongoing police matter,” deputy town manager Greg Duggan later offered in an email.

The Essex Selectboard was also not briefed on the case, according to at least two members.

 Selectboard members Elaine Sopchak and Irene Wrenner expressed surprise when learning of the incident and that town officials hadn’t made them aware of it.

Sopchak noted nothing was mentioned at Monday night’s selectboard meeting. Messages left for Chairman Max Levy and two other board members were not returned as the newspaper went to press.

Essex Town Health Officer Jerry Firkey and his deputy, Sharon Kelley, both said they were not asked to evaluate the conditions on the property.

Hall did say the Humane Society of Chittenden County, an Essex Town animal control officer and the Chittenden County State’s Attorney’s Office were involved with police in the case.

The humane society said Tuesday afternoon it was no longer involved in the case.

Essex animal control officer Stephanie Gingras said she needed to check with the police chief before she could talk about her involvement.

Messages left at the prosecutor’s office also were not returned as of deadline.