She founded a sanctuary for animals. Now she's accused in their deaths.

A one-count indictment alleges Corinne N. DiLorenzo “intentionally caused the death of multiple companion animals including dogs, cats, pigs, rabbits, birds, goats, raccoons and turtles.”

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By Janelle Griffith

A woman in Illinois has been charged with aggravated animal cruelty after hundreds of animal carcasses were found in shallow graves at a nonprofit animal sanctuary she founded.

A one-count indictment alleges Corinne N. DiLorenzo “intentionally caused the death of multiple companion animals including dogs, cats, pigs, rabbits, birds, goats, raccoons and turtles.”

DiLorenzo founded the now-defunct nonprofit Earth Animal Sanctuary in Thawville, about 100 miles south of Chicago.

An online petition demanding that DiLorenzo be criminally charged was launched last summer after the carcasses of hundreds of animals that had been rescued and surrendered to Earth Advocates were found on the sanctuary’s property.

Corinne DiLorenzo.Iroquois County Circuit Court

"On June 23, 2019, a former board member of Earth Animal Sanctuary discovered nothing short of a horror story," the petition reads. "What used to be a peaceful, final resting place for animals who’d passed on, is now a ghastly ditch littered with hundreds of animals in various states of decomposition, rotting in plastic bags and a mound of bones and skulls overlapping one life with another, carelessly tossed away like garbage."

The petition had almost 8,500 signatures on Wednesday.

Melissa Pena, a former board member for the Earth Animal Sanctuary, said in a June post on the organization's Facebook page, that she and two others visited the property and found an oblong-shaped "ditch filled with bag upon bag upon bag of the remains of dead animals."

“There were the remains of pigs that had been dragged out on a tarp or blanket and dumped in the hole," Pena said in the Facebook post. "We saw skulls and bones of large pigs, medium-sized pigs, goats of various ages, cats, dogs, birds/waterfowl and rabbits. There were small bags inside of larger garbage bags as well as bags that contained multiple species of animals. We saw various states of decomposition. There were layers of animals, and after about an hour of ripping through bags with my hands, I couldn’t do anymore."

The sanctuary was formed in May 2014, according to the petition, which states, "Most of these animals should have had a long life ahead of them, but there are none left at Earth and almost every animal sanctuary/rescue in the midwest has confirmed that they had not taken animals from her."

DiLorenzo was arrested on an Iroquois County warrant on Dec. 24. She posted 10 percent of her $10,000 bond and was released.

She is next due in court on Jan. 23. She could not immediately be reached for comment.