On Saturday, Missoula Police Department Officers responded to a residence in the 100 block of Camelot Court for a welfare check. The caller identified themselves and said their neighbor had packages piled up outside her apartment, her air conditioner had been going for months, her car had been in the bay for weeks, and there was a foul smell coming from the apartment. Police Public Information Officer Lydia Arnold explains.

“Officers arrived on scene and observed the same things the original caller had explained to 911,” Arnold said. “Out of concern for the well-being and health of the resident, 23-year-old Natasha Swartz-Martensen, officers entered into the house. When officers entered into the house, they immediately noticed an animal in a kennel deceased and decomposing. The house was hard to walk through because the house was covered in animal feces and urine.”

Officers attempted to locate Swartz-Martensen in the residence, but she was not there. As the officers approached the rear of the apartment, they located a locked door. Officers kicked in the door and found another deceased and decomposed animal inside.

Officers continued their search and found another deceased kitten in the living room. Officers found three deceased animals and two live animals, one cat and one dog.

“Officers exited the residence,” Arnold said. “Officers eventually spoke with Swartz-Martensen. Swartz-Martensen denied officers going back into the residence or talking about the animals observed in the residence. Officers contacted animal control and applied for a search warrant to go back into the residence. With a singed search warrant, officers assisted animal control in taking the living animals out of the house.”

Swartz-Martensen said she knew of the three deceased animals, one being a kitten and two being dogs. She said the dog in the kitchen had health issues and had died one to two months ago. She said the dog in the spare room had died “a year or more ago.” She was not sure how long the kitten had been deceased for. No paperwork was found for the three deceased animals. They were all were mummified and decomposing when officers found them.

An animal control officer had the two living animals evaluated and both were found to be underweight. While at the Missoula County Animal Control Shelter, both animals passed fecal matter that appeared to contain non-food items, including Styrofoam, and both animals were “ravenous” when offered food.

Swartz-Martensen is currently being charged with five counts of cruelty to animals.

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