SAGAMORE HILLS TWP. — A little more than six months after her disappearance, Foxy has been found but not in the way that Joseph and Joyce Stayanchi had hoped.
A hiker discovered the remains of their 15-year-old American paint horse Jan. 6 in a wooded area near the Northcoast Behavioral Healthcare facility off Sagamore Road, less than a mile from the Stayanchis' Dunham Road home, Joseph Stayanchi said.
“It was my wife’s horse. She’s devastated,” he said.
Foxy disappeared from a field next to the Stayanchi home July 3 while the Stayanchis were out of town. The Stayanchis were paying someone to care for Foxy, who was reportedly spooked by fireworks. She was last seen in the area of the healthcare facility shortly after she disappeared. The Stayanchis initially offered a $2,500 reward for information leading to the horse’s safe return, which they soon doubled to $5,000.
“We’d been searching for her ever since. I mean we had leads all over,” said Stayanchi, adding that they heard she had been at a farm in Canton, then sold, and just a couple of days before Foxy was found, his wife checked out a lead that Foxy was in a barn in Ashtabula.
Searchers included Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Summit Metro Parks rangers, Sagamore Hills police and numerous volunteers.
“We had search parties,” he said. “We had people searching. We had drones out, we had heat seeking drones. We had people on horseback, we had four wheelers. We had, I don’t know, thousands of hours of searching and never found her.”
Stayanchi said it is uncertain when or how Foxy died.
“I personally checked that area within a couple hundred feet of where she was, maybe a couple hundred yards,” he said. “I personally checked that area, probably a hundred times. We were up and down that area.”
Stayanchi said the hiker posted on a website that he had found a horse’s bones and someone who knew about Foxy saw the post and contacted the Stayanchis. The Stayanchis then called township police who, after some searching, found the site.
“We walked down there with them,” Stayanchi said. He, his wife and other family members recovered the remains.
Stayanchi said he is particularly upset because Foxy had apparently been left alone in the open field, tied only to a plastic chair, rather than in a fenced corral as he and his wife had instructed.
Police detective Victoria Miavitz said Friday that an investigation into Foxy’s death is closed. She said that it appeared a lead that was still on the horse got caught on a tree or branch, trapping her, and she believes part of the chair Foxy had been tied to was found nearby.
“Unfortunately, Mother Nature took its course,” she said. “It’s a very unfortunate incident, but it’s fortunate someone happened to find the halter and remains.”
Reporter Jeff Saunders can be reached at 330-541-9431, email@example.com or @JeffSaunders_RP.