Suspect arrested in Sawyer fire facing charges in horse deaths

Published: Aug. 30, 2023 at 6:26 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SAWYER, N.D. (KMOT) – A 35-year-old man arrested following a house fire in Sawyer Tuesday morning is facing unrelated charges stemming from an investigation into neglect of horses.

According to a criminal affidavit, Weston Aho faces charges of animal neglect, an A-misdemeanor, and improper disposal of animal carcasses, an infraction.

The warrant affidavit indicates that a veterinarian said a living horse on the property in Sawyer was underfed and 200 lbs. underweight. The report indicates the Ward County Highway Department had to remove two horse carcasses from the property.

Thirty-year-old Tori Francis is also charged in the case. According to the affidavit, Aho’s father, who lives out of state, indicated Francis was supposed to be caring for the horses.

Capt. Jason Kraft with the Ward County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Aho was arrested in Velva shortly after the house fire on warrants unrelated to the fire.

Kraft said crews had to return to the scene of the house fire in Sawyer around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday after the fire flared up again. Kraft said Aho was in custody at the time of the flare-up.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation by Ward County, with assistance from the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the State Fire Marshal.

Aho and Francis made bench warrant appearances on the charges in the horse investigation Wednesday in Ward County and were released from custody, according to court records.

Aho faces an A-misdemeanor preventing arrest charge in the house fire incident and is scheduled to appear in court in McHenry County on Sept. 19.

Related: House fire prompts precautionary evacuation of school in Sawyer