By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

Clues are surfacing in the case of the horse head found in the cabin of a Crescent City fisherman's boat last Sunday.

According to several people connected to the case, the horse was a cherished family pet delivered to the Del Norte County landfill after it died.

The former owners of the horse recognized their pet from a photo published in the Triplicate Tuesday.

andquot;That was our horse 'Sunny,'andquot; said the letter from Jon Miller and family. The letter was accompanied by a picture of the horse eating hay last year. andquot;Sunny was a big part of our family during his short life of seven years, until we lost him due to a sudden illness in November.andquot;

The Miller family said Sunny's death was difficult for them and for their friends. The horse was eventually taken to the Del Norte County landfill for disposal when burial accommodations weren't available.

Kevin Hendrick, director of the Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority, said the horse arrived at the landfill intact.

andquot;I talked to my staff person and she remembered it - we don't see something like that very often,andquot; Hendrick said. andquot;What she recalls is seeing the horse and seeing the halter, which fits over its head. So it had a head when it arrived.andquot;

After looking at landfill records, Hendrick said no other customers arrived at the landfill after the horse was dropped off at 4:23 p.m. on Nov. 23. The landfill is normally covered with earth or a tarp at the end of each day, Hendrick said. It is possible, Hendrick said, that someone entered the landfill at night.

Seeing their beloved horse involved in such a grisly crime has been particularly hard on the Miller family.

andquot;We are saddened and angered by the act committed in this crime. To know that someone decapitated our horse, stored (froze) his head to use as a prank, joke or threat is just plain sick,andquot; the family said in its letter.

The victim of the crime, boat owner David Evanow, said he's received numerous tips from people and he thinks he's closing in on the culprit.

andquot;We know who did it,andquot; said Evanow, who said he was not amused when he found the head planted in his boat last Sunday. andquot;We know who had the head in the freezer, where it came from, who owned it ... we're just waiting for the resolution.andquot;

Evanow said he received tips from people, some anonymous, after a photo of the horse head was published in the Triplicate and he advertised a $1000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the culprit.

andquot;I got an anonymous tip that the head was seen in someone's freezer. I know who had it in the freezer and I have never met that person,andquot; Evanow said. andquot;I don't know if he's the one who cut the head off the horse.andquot;

Evanow said he has left telephone messages with the person who reportedly had the head in his freezer but has not received a reply yet. He said he is still seeking an explanation why he was singled out.

Evanow said one of the tipsters told him to give their share of any reward to charity if an arrest is made. Evanow said he will be meeting with the Del Norte County Sheriff's Department today.