But six months after notification, Will County, Illinois has yet to impound pigs––if still alive––and chickens DiLorenzo is not permitted to keep
CRETE, Illinois––“Corinne DiLorenzo is still in possession of animals,” reader Brian Duda emailed to ANIMALS 24-7 on the morning of August 7, 2023.
Duda referenced the convicted perpetrator of the animal hoarding case with the most apparent victims in the 41 years that ANIMALS 24-7 has logged mass neglect cases throughout the U.S. and Canada––beginning, ironically, right about the time DiLorenzo, 41, was born.
Walked at Christmas 2022
Suspected of having caused the deaths of as many as 700 animals at her former Earth Animal Sanctuary in Thawville, Illinois, about 100 miles south of Chicago, DiLorenzo on December 21, 2022 received one of the lightest sentences ANIMALS 24-7 has documented in a convicted hoarding case, after pleading “no contest” in August 2022 to a single count of misdemeanor cruelty.
“Eight months on probation with no follow-up”
Iroquois County Circuit Court judge Michael Sabol ordered DiLorenzo to serve 18 months on probation. That probation still has ten months to run.
“Judge Sabol also ordered DiLorenzo to pay a $500 fine,” plus $439 in court costs, “and to perform 30 hours of community service,” reported Will Brumleve of the Ford County Chronicle.
In addition, DiLorenzo was “not to own or possess any pets or animals while on probation,” Brumleve summarized.
DiLorenzo “has been on probation for eight months without anyone following up on her,” alleged Duda. “In all that time she has had at least two pigs and several chickens and ducks. The police and probation officers were notified. Numerous calls and emails have been sent [to the authorities responsible for supervising DiLorenzo’s probation] without reply.”
“Hundreds of animal carcasses”
Affirmed Brunleve in the Ford County Chronicle of August 5, 2023, “The founder of a now-defunct nonprofit animal sanctuary in Thawville, where hundreds of animal carcasses were discovered in shallow graves in 2019, is keeping animals at her residence in Will County despite an Iroquois County judge’s order prohibiting her from doing so.”
Chicago Alliance for Animals executive director Jodie Wiederkehr provided to the Ford County Chronicle “documentation of DiLorenzo’s possession of animals,” Brunleve wrote, “including a photo taken on June 16, 2023 by another member of the Chicago Alliance for Animals, Mary Deetjen, that showed a pig and chicken on the property.
Pig “not seen in some time”
“A visit to DiLorenzo’s home by the Chronicle,” Brunleve continued, “confirmed the presence of animals there. At least two chickens could be seen roaming around a shed in the fenced-in backyard. No one answered the doorbell, and a message left seeking comment was not immediately returned.
“A neighbor confirmed that DiLorenzo lived there and has been keeping chickens there,” Brunleve added. “A neighbor said DiLorenzo at one time also had a pig, although no pig was seen there and the neighbor noted that he had not seen one there for some time.”
The criminal cruelty to animals charges against DiLorenzo that were settled when Judge Sabol accepted her plea bargain had already been pending for nearly two and a half years when the Will County board of supervisors on May 19, 2022 “granted DiLorenzo’s request for a special-use permit for the keeping of up to two swine at her residence,” Brunleve noted.
As of August 5, 2023, Brunleve learned, “there was no record of a petition to revoke DiLorenzo’s probation having been filed yet in Iroquois County Circuit Court.”
Iroquois County probation director Barb King, alerted by the Chicago Alliance for Animals in February 2023 that DiLorenzo had a pig at her home in violation of her probationary conditions, responded in an email that, “Iroquois County Probation cannot release information about clients to other individuals or agencies. I would suggest you contact the Will County Animal Control for verification of your suspicions about the pig,” Brunleve reported.
“Iroquois County Sheriff Clint Perzee told the Chronicle in a text message recently that he was aware of the complaints about DiLorenzo keeping animals,” Brunleve wrote, “but he noted that Will County authorities are now responsible for enforcing DiLorenzo’s probation.
“I can tell you if it was happening in Iroquois County, our investigators would be on it,” Perzee told Brunleve.
Claims “probation records are not public”
Will County probation director Chris Watkins also stonewalled.
“Please note,” Watkins emailed to Brunleve, “according to state statute, probation records are not public record and may not be disseminated without a court order.”
Illinois is among only six states that allow county courts to withhold such records.
Even in Illinois, disclosure of probation records appears to be a matter of local discretion, according to the Civic Federation, self-described as “an independent, non-partisan government research organization that provides analysis and recommendations on government finance issues for the Chicago region and State of Illinois,” founded in 1894.
Will County doesn’t give a $@#%
Will County has a history of indifference toward cruelty to animals, however, exemplified barely a week before the non-enforcement of the probationary order against DiLorenzo came to light by the extreme violence toward horses documented by Showing Animals Respect & Kindness at a July 30, 2023 Will County charreada.
Brian Duda and the other members of the Chicago Alliance for Animals involved in trying to bring DiLorenzo to justice, both before and after her December 2022 plea bargain, have long histories of animal advocacy.
Their history includes having worked alongside DiLorenzo at her Earth Animal Sanctuary, apparently unaware that DiLorenzo had history herself.
Long history of alleged hoarding
DiLorenzo apparently first ran into trouble for hoarding animals in 2010, at a rented home in Peoria, Illinois.
“In 2013, she moved into a mobile home near Gridley,” in McLean County, Illinois, reported Tiffani Homer for VegNews, after DiLorenzo’s 2019 arraignment.
The mobile home was owned by Tobein Tegard, who operates the Wedrose Acres Animal Sanctuary in Gridley.
“According to officials,” Homer narrated, “against Tegard’s wishes, DiLorenzo built an enclosure for chickens and pigs on the property. The enclosure caught fire and killed all of the chickens.”
The fire apparently resulted from an electric space heater overloading the wiring.
Bentley the pig
Asked to leave the Wedrose Acres Animal Sanctuary in April 2014, DiLorenzo started the Earth Animal Sanctuary in Thawville a month later.
DiLorenzo in May 2015 posted a video to social media of herself singing to a pig named Bentley. The video, still popular online, made DiLorenzo and her Earth Island Sanctuary famous.
“She would eventually take in hundreds of animals, placed there by private citizens, rescues and public animal control agencies,” including more than 70 animals from DuPage County animal control,” the Chicago Tribune summarized in 2020.
But the Earth Animal Sanctuary lost Illinois nonprofit status in 2016 for “failure to submit the proper yearly documentation,” the Chicago Tribune said.
Brian Duda, identified as a former Earth Animal Sanctuary board member, acknowledged to Chicago Tribune reporter Peter Nickeas that “He was in a romantic relationship with Dilorenzo during much of the time she was taking in animals in Thawville. He would commute to see her and her son from his home in suburban Lisle, helping take care of the animals.
“The couple got engaged in September 2017,” Nickeas continued, “but Duda said the relationship was rocky and the pair broke up months later. Around the same time, he would later tell sheriff’s investigators, ‘The animals just started dying off’ for unknown reasons, according to a police report.”
DiLorenzo in approximately the same time frame apparently also tried to establish herself as a vegan chef.
“Sheriff classified fire as suspicious”
But DiLorenzo eventually dropped out of communication with Duda and other Chicago-area animal advocacy acquaintances.
“In mid-2018,” Nickeas wrote, “several people advised that Corinne would not return calls, texts or emails to donors or other people in the animal rescue community, according to an Iroquois County sheriff’s department report.
A September 2, 2018 fire, reported by DiLorenzo’s teenaged son, killed eight pigs, six ducks, six geese and 20 chickens, according to the Iroquois County sheriff’s office.
“The sheriff’s department classified the fire as suspicious,” the Chicago Tribune said. “It appeared an accelerant had been used to start the fire in the duck pen,” with “what (an investigator) identified as a pour pattern leading from the structure to the gate,” where “wooden matches were located.”
A January 2019 call to the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services hotline about suspected neglect of DiLorenzo’s son, the Chicago Tribune continued, brought sheriff’s deputies to the site with a search warrant.
“The son appeared in good health, but officials found so much filth in the home that investigators forbade him from residing there, according to the report,” the Chicago Tribune summarized.
“In early January 2019,” Homer of VegNews narrated, “Jodie Wiederkehr—co-founder of Chicago Alliance for Animals and a former friend of DiLorenzo—began searching for DiLorenzo online and found mention of a barn fire at Earth Animal Sanctuary on the fundraising site GoFundMe.
“Crude burial site”
“Surprised that no one in the Chicago animal advocacy community knew about the fire, Wiederkehr eventually learned from DiLorenzo’s ex-partner that all of the animals who had lived at the sanctuary were dead, either from the fire or unknown causes.”
Later in 2019, Homer wrote, “a group led by former Earth Animal Sanctuary board member Melissa Summer Pena found a crude burial site,” holding the remains, the group estimated, “of more than 600 animals,” leading to DiLorenzo’s arrest on cruelty and neglect charges on Christmas Day 2019.
DiLorenzo after her arrest bailed herself out of jail by posting 10% of a $10,000 bond. She has apparently remained not far from Thawville since then, at addresses in Crete and Normal, Illinois, working for a time as an insurance agent and managing to pay rent of $1,700 a month for her current premises, according to Properties.com.