By Mike LaBella
---- — HAVERHILL — The tale of a missing horse is not over and now police say it will likely end up in civil court.
Yesterday, police said two people are claiming ownership of the animal as detectives continue their investigation into a horse that was reported missing from a Bradford stable earlier this week.
Police Deputy Chief Donald Thompson said investigators have spoken to a woman who claims to be the original owner and is in possession of the horse. They have also spoken to another woman who claims to be the animal’s rightful owner. He said investigators have also spoken to “other involved persons” and plan to continue their conversations with everyone involved.
Thompson said that as of yesterday afternoon police were still in the process of verifying the location of the animal.
He said that after conferring with the Essex District Attorney’s Office, the case was determined to be a civil, not criminal matter.
“We are still looking at this and expect further conversations with all parties,” Thompson said.
On Wednesday, police said the horse — Lola, a light bay Dutch warmblood — was last seen on Tuesday in a stall in a barn at the Bradford Equestrian Center, 109 South Cross Road, in the Bradford section of Haverhill.
The horse was reported missing Wednesday morning after a stable manager discovered it was not in its stable.
Police said the stable manager went to check on the horse at 6:30 a.m. and found it was gone. The stable manager, a woman, notified the owner of the horse and filed a report at the police station, according to police.
According to a police report, after the stable manager discovered the horse was not in its stall, she spoke to other staff members, who told her that on Tuesday about 5:45 p.m., two people came to the barn, led a horse out of the building and into a horse trailer, and then drove away.
Thompson said investigators determined that a woman who told police that she is the horse’s previous and original owner had picked up the horse and is in possession of the animal. He said another woman is claiming to be the animal’s rightful owner.
Thompson said police requested a probable cause hearing in District Court to determine if their is cause to charge the woman with the theft of the horse. He said a hearing will be held, but that police do not plan to pursue the hearing or pursue charges against either woman at this time.
“We are looking into the possible involvement of others,” he said.