Update: The abuse charge against Thomas Ketchum was dropped on march 3, 2020, the animal cruelty charge was dropped on July 17. Ketchum said in a July 21 email he was “set up by the mother to try to gain custody cause she lost her cause.”
Late Sunday night Thomas Ketchum of Pony Express Drive in Palm Coast called authorities to report that his daughter had fled from the house. Later that evening, Ketchum, 52, was under arrest on charges of child abuse and animal cruelty.
Ketchum told a Flagler County Sheriff’s deputy that he had been upset his daughter, who is 14, was contacting her mother through her computer. (The couple had divorced.) He said the confrontation had been verbal, with no physical contact, and demanded that deputies find and bring back his daughter. He showed them court order, which named him as a “residential parent” but allowed the child to spend “substantial time” with both parents.
The girl had fled to a neighboring house whose occupants she did not know. She’d knocked at the door barefoot and afraid, according to Ketchum’s arrest report. The girl told a deputy that her father had been upset both because she had contacted her mother and because of the dogs in the house, which belong to Ketchum’s ex-wife.
Ketchum, the report states, “had allegedly grabbed one of the dogs by the collar, lifting it in its entirety off the ground, choking it with its own collar around the neck. [The girl] had become upset by this, and attempted to grab [Ketchum]’s arm, in a manner to release the dog. [Ketchum] had then let go of the dog, grabbing [his daughter’s] wrist and yanking it, pulling at her shoulder, causing her to scream in pain.”
The girl said she fled after not feeling safe at the house, where she described her father as frequently yelling at her and being “cruel towards the dogs, in an effort to spite” his ex-wife. She said he threatened to “beat her ass” and take her to a mental hospital in Jacksonville for a long time.
The daughter was taken to her mother’s house, and both the Department of Children and Families and Animal Control contacted.
Ketchum was booked at the Flagler County jail, and has been ordered to surrender all firearms and have no contact with his daughter. He posted bail on $5,000 bond and was released.
A year and a half ago Ketchum was arrested after he was accused of threatening a man with a baseball bat. The man was Thomas Bradshaw, a registered sex offender who, Ketchum told authorities at the time, was interacting with Ketchum’s daughter and with his wife, prompting him to order him to leave. In Bradshaw’s account to police, Ketchum had to be restrained by several people before the bat was taken away from him, and that Ketchum had also allegedly chased him around a Walmart parking lot, with a baseball bat. It was pursuant to Bradshaw’s complaint that Ketchum was charged with aggravated assault. The charge was downgraded, then dropped, and Ketchum got an injunction against Bradshaw.