Tioga Downs Arsonist, Horse Killer Gets to Up to 15 Years Prison


Posted on: April 21, 2024, 12:02h. 

Last updated on: April 21, 2024, 12:02h.

A Pennsylvania man charged with setting a fire at Tioga Downs racetrack that killed 30 racehorses and two cats was sentenced to a maximum of 15 years in prison Friday.

Boyd Fenton, Tioga Downs, arson, sentenced
Boyd Fenton is led shackled from the Tioga County Court House in Owego Friday to begin a prison sentence of between seven and 15 years. (WENY News)

It’s still unclear exactly why Boyd Fenton, 32, of Athens, Pa., deliberately started the barn fire, which also injured a trainer who tried to rescue the animals. However, prosecutors said Fenton took drugs before the incident on November 9, 2023 and “believed people were chasing him.” The defendant has no known connection to the track.

Witnesses reported terrified horses kicking and screaming as the flames spread, according to a New York Times report. Not one of the horses, which competed in harness races at the racino complex, survived the fire.

Psychological Toll

Fenton was arrested shortly after the incident and charged with third-degree arson, third-degree burglary, second-degree criminal mischief, and second-degree assault.

He was also convicted Friday of 30 counts of interference with injuries to certain domestic animals, and 30 counts of overdriving, torturing and injuring animals.

Boyd appeared in the Tioga County Court House in Owego, N.Y. wearing all orange with shackles around his ankles and wrists, according to WETM 18 News.

Also packing the courthouse were numerous racing industry stakeholders, including many who lost horses in the fire. Some of the horse owners gave testimony. One, Mindy Findling Repko, had five horses that died in the blaze.

She spoke about the psychological toll the crime had taken on her. She now has panic attacks when she enters her barn back home in Indiana, she said, as reported by 18 News. When it first happened, she thought she was having a heart attack. Now, her husband’s words telling her that her horses were dead play over and over again in her head, she added.

‘You Murdered Our Kids’

Repko said that the horses had filled a huge gap in the couples’ life because they had never had children.

“That’s what you did,” she said, looking directly at Fenton. “You murdered our kids.”

Fenton was given an opportunity to speak after Repko’s testimony but chose to remain silent.

The defendant has a lengthy rap sheet in Pennsylvania, including driving under the influence of a controlled substance, criminal trespassing, criminal mischief resulting in property damage, and possessing a small amount of marijuana.

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