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Granville police arrest man featured on 'Tiger King' as fugitive

GRANVILLE — A man featured on the Netflix documentary series “Tiger King” was arrested in Washington County as a fugitive from justice.

Timothy Lee Stark, 55, was arrested by the Granville Police Department and transported to the Washington County Jail, according to a news release from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

Stark is one of the players in the exotic animal world that has been featured on the show. He is founder of organization called Wildlife in Need, which runs a sanctuary in Charlestown, Indiana.

WHAS-TV 11 in Kentucky reported on its website that Stark is wanted by the Clark County Sheriff’s Department in Indiana. Chief Deputy Scottie Maples said Stark allegedly removed more than two dozen animals from his exotic animal center before officials could take them. He is also accused of threatening and grabbing a public official during an inspection of his property.

Stark lost his license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in June after officials said he left animals without adequate care and no food and water, according to WHAS.

Stark was arrested in Granville early Thursday morning.

Granville Sgt. Ryan Pedone said the incident started around 11 p.m. Wednesday when a concerned citizen called the state police station in Granville, saying that they believe Stark was staying at the Granville Station House Bed & Breakfast.

Stark had been showing pictures of his exotic animals at his sanctuary. The person did some research on the internet.

“They realized there were warrants out for this guy and he was on the run,” Pedone said.

The concerned citizen contacted Indiana authorities, who said to contact state police.

“They called us and we convened on that area to see if it was, in fact, Mr. Stark,” he said.

Officers knocked on the door multiple times and Stark said he needed to put some clothes on and would open the door, according to Pedone. He said officers asked for his driver’s license. Stark was slightly hesitant but handed over his identification. Granville Police ran the warrant through the database and there were no active warrants.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office dispatch center contacted Indiana authorities and found out there was a warrant out for his arrest, according to Pedone.

“The warrant had been entered into the system, but was not attached to his driver’s license and did not contain his middle initial, which is why we didn’t get the hit when we ran it the first time,” he said.

After confirming that the Clark County Sheriff’s Office would extradite Stark to Indiana, Pedone said the officers went to arrest Stark.

A caller said that Stark had been seen going out to his car and then back to his unit to grab a bag, according to Pedone. The person believed that Stark was in possession of what looked like a live hand grenade. Police began to evacuate the bed and breakfast.

When this was happening, police observed a local woman leaving Stark’s unit and spoke with her. Pedone said officers asked Stark to come out, which he did. He had a bag on his shoulder and there was the object on top of his bag, which police determined to be a toy grenade.

Stark was arrested without incident. He did not flee or resist, according to Pedone.

“He was extremely cooperative — cracking jokes the whole time,” he said.

Pedone said he has not watched “Tiger King,” which is about a zookeeper named Joe Exotic, of the G.W. Zoo in Oklahoma, and the lives of collectors of big cats and other exotic animals.

Stark is facing two charges in Indiana. One is on a criminal contempt charge and the other for intimidation and battery, according to Pedone.

Pedone said Stark told authorities that the contempt charge was the result of him swearing at a judge during a court hearing. The other one stemmed from an incident in which he says that authorities were searching his property and inquired to see what was behind a door. Stark said he wanted to wait until everyone in the party was in front of the door. However, the person insisted on him opening the door and Stark says he poked his finger into the chest of the man, who is a local prosecutor.

He claimed that authorities came to the property because People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals was upset with the way he ran his sanctuary.

“He was upset that a film crew was allowed onto his property and he didn’t give permission to the film crew to videotape the ongoing situation,” Pedone said.

Pedone added that Stark said he is still in connection with the documentary producers about the possibility of a “Tiger King 2” series.

Stark was sent to Washington County Jail to await extradition proceedings. Pedone did not have a timetable on when that might occur.

Reach Michael Goot at 518-742-3320 or mgoot@poststar.com and follow his blog poststar.com/blogs/michael_goot/.

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