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Already locked up, Hanover-area woman now facing 106 animal cruelty and neglect charges

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
The home of Michelle Baldwin is shown in West Manheim Township, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. Baldwin has been charged with 106 counts for alleged animal neglect and cruelty, as well as six counts of aggravated assault, one count of fleeing and eluding police, and two misdemeanor counts for simple assault, according to court documents. A total of 15 dogs, three cats and six cockatiels were taken from the residence. Dawn J. Sagert photo

A West Manheim Township woman accused of fleeing from police and trying to run over two law-enforcement officials for removing pets from alleged "abhorrent" conditions in her house is now locked up.

The home of Michelle Baldwin has been condemned, according to court documents.

She remains in York County Prison on $75,000 bail, charged with six counts of aggravated assault and one count of fleeing and eluding police — all felonies — plus two misdemeanor counts of simple assault, according to court records.

Baldwin, 56, of the 100 block of Valley View Road, is facing 106 additional criminal charges, for alleged animal cruelty and neglect. About two dozen dogs, cats and birds were seized from her home Oct. 8.

She is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday on 16 third-degree felony counts of aggravated cruelty to animals — four counts citing torture and 12 counts for allegedly causing serious bodily injury or death, according to court records.

Michelle Baldwin

She also will be charged with 24 misdemeanor counts each of animal cruelty, animal neglect/veterinary care and animal neglect/shelter or protection, plus 18 misdemeanor counts of animal neglect/sustenance or water, court records state.

Baldwin told The York Dispatch in an email that she didn’t try to run over police and didn’t seen anyone in front of her. She also said she’s spent her life helping dogs.

Baldwin was arrested without incident Monday on her assault and fleeing charges, according to West Manheim Township Police.

She was previously found guilty of animal cruelty, according to court records.

The current cruelty and neglect charges were filed Thursday by Humane Society Police Officer Ame Kessler, who said it's one of the worst cases she's seen.

The home of Michelle Baldwin in West Manheim Township, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. Baldwin has been charged with 106 counts for alleged animal neglect and cruelty, as well as six counts of aggravated assault, one count of fleeing and eluding police, and two misdemeanor counts for simple assault, according to court documents. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Previous investigations: Kessler told The York Dispatch she investigated Baldwin 13 years ago and that the York County SPCA investigated Baldwin after that for cruelty and neglect.

Kessler said she received reports that Baldwin was again neglecting her pets and described what was going on there as an animal hoarding-type situation.

Two weeks after going into Baldwin's home with a search-and-seizure warrant, Kessler said she is still coughing from inhaling strong ammonia fumes caused by urine throughout the house.

West Manheim Township Police assisted Kessler and York County SPCA Field Agent Otto Cruz at the scene because Baldwin had threatened Kessler, according to charging documents.

Seized were 15 dogs, three cats and six cockatiels, charging documents state, as well as the carcasses of a dog, a cat and one bird. Some of the animals were underweight, Kessler confirmed.

The carcasses were decomposing, she said.

'Abhorrent': West Manheim Township Police previously described conditions inside Baldwin's home as abhorrent, and Kessler agreed.

Charging documents state there was debris, trash, fresh and desiccated feces, stagnant water and clothing strewn around the first floor.

On the second floor of the split-level home, the main hallway was down to the subflooring and covered in feces, documents state.

The master bedroom door was barricaded shut with pet crates and the floor was soft and wet with urine, according to documents.

"Inside were 12 dogs (4 locked in crates in their own feces and urine causing burns to the pads of their paws)," plus cats and birds, Kessler wrote in documents.

The bathtub in the attached master bathroom was filled with dark, nearly black, water, with plywood panels over top of it that were covered with feces, documents state.

The home of Michelle Baldwin in West Manheim Township, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. Baldwin has been charged with 106 counts for alleged animal neglect and cruelty, as well as six counts of aggravated assault, one count of fleeing and eluding police, and two misdemeanor counts for simple assault, according to court documents. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Home condemned: Four of the dogs taken from the home that day had to be carried out — one on a stretcher "due to the bodily injury caused by the conditions in which they were kept," according to charging documents.

"The house was condemned that evening," Kessler said. "We had masks on. In hindsight, we probably should have had respirators."

Like the dogs, the three living cats were also suffering from neglect, documents state. At this point, all but one are doing OK, Kessler said, adding the birds are doing well.

All the animals remain in protective custody, and six are being cared for in a veterinary-hospital setting, she said.

Assault charges: Baldwin's assault charges were filed because police allege she tried to run over Cruz and township police Sgt. Toby Wildasin with her Ford E-350 van after she arrived home to find them and Kessler removing animals.

More:Police: Hanover-area animal cruelty suspect tried to run over cop, York SPCA agent

It was about 10 p.m. on Oct. 8 that Baldwin "gunned" her van and drove directly at the men, "placing them in fear for their lives," charging documents state. Both men had to jump out of the way to avoid being struck, police said.

Baldwin then "glared" at Wildasin and drove directly at him a second time, documents state.

Wildasin pointed his handgun at Baldwin and demanded she stop the van and get out, police said.

But Baldwin backed out of her driveway and took off, documents allege.

Officers gave chase for about 4 miles until she crossed into Maryland, at which point Maryland police pursued her as well, but she eluded them, according to charging documents.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.

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