Winston-Salem police searched Tuesday for human bodies at a former horse farm off Griffith Road in the city’s southwestern section, a law enforcement source told the Journal.
The source asked for anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the case.
A police forensics unit worked at the site for a second day, digging at the 13-acre property at 400 Everidge Road. A pile of dirt stood next to a hole about 12 feet in length.
District Attorney Jim O’Neill of Forsyth County was also on the property along with police detectives.
An operator of a backhoe dug behind the large barn on the site.
One neighbor, who declined to be identified to maintain his privacy, said he first noticed the police presence at the farm on Monday.
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“It’s like nobody even goes out there,” the neighbor said about the farm. “I have no idea what to think.”
His account of the property was consistent with other neighbors’ comments, saying the site is usually quiet with few people coming and going from the farm.
“Nobody ever goes out there,” he said. “I have no idea what to think.”
Reporters and photographers were allowed to look at the horse farm from the surrounding streets.
An investigator put crime scene tape in front of the house on Ever Spring Drive near the site. A toppled tree also obstructed the public’s view of the farm from Ever Spring Drive.
The toppled tree was not there Monday. Police officers did not place it there Tuesday, said Lt. Chris Diamont, a police spokesman.
O’Neill has declined to comment on the search, but he said authorities appreciate the cooperation they’ve gotten from the property owners.
Michael Jackson, who owns the property under the name, Two Men & a Mule LLC, said Monday that officers told him they needed to carry out an investigation on the property and that he gave them permission to enter and do their jobs.
Jackson said he was at the site part of the time while authorities investigated, but that none of the law enforcement officers told him what they were looking for.
The investigation may take several days, and police will update the case when more information is available, police said.
When Renan L. Carter owned the property in 2011, Forsyth County animal-control officers removed 35 emaciated ponies from the site, and Carter later was convicted of three felony counts of animal cruelty and 33 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty.
In 2016, Carter sold the property to Two Men & A Mule LLC, which had been formed the same year.
Danielle Jackson, Michael Jackson’s wife, said she and her husband have not kept animals on the property or done anything with the site since acquiring it. Michael Jackson said he has occasionally rented the house that is on the property beside the barn.
Anything happening on the property is unusual, said a woman who lives near the land who asked that her name not be used.
“There are never any vehicles there, and the front gate and barn are always closed,” the woman said. “It’s a desolate place.”
The woman said that the only activity she had seen was from a man who came regularly to cut the grass.
Investigators didn’t appear to look into the one-story house on the property beside the barn.