Mark Osterholt’s van was like any other vehicle parked in a West Hills apartment complex. Except for the stench…

This one was the original story about Mark “Turtle Killer” Osterholt, and describes the horrible condition the poor reptiles were in when discovered. It’s pretty gross.

Hundreds of Dead Turtles Found in Van : Animals: Authorities say the reptiles may have been left for several days. The vehicle’s owner says the creatures were to have been delivered to customers in Santa Barbara to be eaten.

WEST HILLS —  

It was like any other vehicle parked in a West Hills apartment complex. Except for the stench.

Worried and suspicious neighbors Friday asked two workmen on grounds to check out the foul smell coming from a white van with a Mexican license plate.

When the workers opened the unlocked vehicle, they discovered an estimated 1,000 turtles packed in burlap sacks–about half of them dead and many others suffering from dehydration, authorities said.

Police were called to the scene and an investigating team from the Los Angeles Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Southern California Humane Society were investigating the reason the reptiles were left in the van. Authorities speculate that the turtles may have been left in the vehicle for several days because of the presence of flies and maggots.

“Some are alive, some are dead, some are decomposed. Some heads, arms and legs fell off,” said SPCA Executive Director Madeline Bernstein, as she helped remove the turtles from the van.

The owner of the vehicle, Mark Osterholt, said the turtles were left in the vehicle for about eight hours while he waited for a driver to come by and deliver them to customers in Santa Barbara, where the turtles would eventually have been eaten.

Mark Osterholt, who stood by and watched as authorities removed the reptiles from his car, was identified by police, but refused to give his name to reporters.

He said that the shipment of turtles, believed to be red-eared sliders, was delivered to him at his wholesale business in Westminster in Orange County.

However, Mark Osterholt refused to disclose where the reptiles came from, other than that he had purchased them from farmers in Southern states. The owner placed the value of the turtles at $7,000 to $8,000.

Apparently, this was not the first time the owner has brought turtles to the apartment complex. A neighbor who would only identify herself as Ruth said on several occasions as she walked her dog, she saw Osterholt running water over sacks of reptiles stored in his garage.

The neighbor said that she also had seen a U-Haul truck picking up turtles.

Bernstein said that SPCA veterinarians will examine the live turtles to determine their medical needs.

But for now, she said that the SPCA will impound the turtles until officials complete their investigation to determine if Mark Osterholt will be charged with cruelty to animals or violating laws concerning transporting live animals.

Mark Osterholt was not arrested or cited, Bernstein said.

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1994-05-14-me-57661-story.html

This is just absolutely vile and disgusting. I love animals and this story just makes me sick.

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