Special report: horse mutilation and abuse

updated 20 November, 2010

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Horse found March 5, 1998, ten miles south of Alamosa, Colorado. Long winter hair was cut cleanly to an eighth of an inch.
"Horse Ripper" Investigation
England -- The Observer carried a story by Lucy Johnston on October 12, 1997 about the on-going investigation into numerous instances of horse mutilations that have occurred in recent years.

A special unit set up to solve one of Britain's longest-standing and most macabre mysteries believes it is on the verge of a breakthrough.

Thousands of cases of horse mutilations have plagued the British countryside,baffling animal lovers and police for more than 10 years. But there has never been a successful prosecution.

Last month a squad of former high-ranking police officers, solicitors and a criminal psychologist - all with expert knowledge of equestrian crime- was set up by a Norfolk-based charity, the International League for the Protection of Horses.

Now they believe they are closing in on the perpetrators. 'We know who is doing this. It's a question of pinning down evidence,' said Ted Barnes,formerly of the Metropolitan Police Equine Crime Unit and now a field officer with the new squad.

'Police forces have higher priorities and most officers do not have in-depth knowledge of the horses or their attackers, especially in remote areas where most attacks occur,' he said. 'This is why there have never been any prosecutions. If things go as we plan, we could well have something to celebrate.'

The 'horse rippers' first came to public attention during the Eighties,though attacks had occurred before that. After 40 mutilations in Hampshire the two-year Operation Mountbatten failed to produce results. Now the phenomenon is nationwide. There have been more than 100 attacks from Swindon to North Yorkshire in the past 12 months. After the latest, in Wiltshire on 27 September,a mare had to be destroyed.

Cases have also featured poisoning, an acid attack, shootings and slashings.A Shetland pony called Bobby had its mane set alight and its head tied to a railway line in Darlington. The animal was saved when two passers-by called the fire brigade. Master Lexion, a gelding from Hampshire, was found with a rusty eight-inch nail thrust through his chin and tongue.

The squad has identified three types of assailant. The first two are perhaps the least mysterious: 'vandals' and those 'who commit attacks asa means of revenge'. The third and perhaps most sinister category of attacks are carried out by people obsessed by bizarre rituals. The squad believes this group could be highly organised.

'They leave trademarks, like serial killers,' said Mr Barnes. 'Thereare different theories about what lies behind their rituals. European experts have linked them to ley lines, medieval fertility rights or satanic rituals.'

Hallmarks include chalk markings, rope burns, hobbling in a particular way, burns on the legs and blood-letting.

Some attacks have sexual overtones. Hampshire-based Anita Jones, wife of Sixties pop star Davy Jones, had two mares attacked within days of each other in July 1992. Annie received a wound to the shoulder. Chrissie had her genitals slashed and a fence post driven inside her.

'It was horrific. Even now if I hear the slightest noise outside I send the dogs out thinking it might be the horse lunatic. There was definitely some sort of sexual ritual in this.'

Chris Fairfax who runs Alarm, a firm of solicitors working with the unit, said: 'Our field officers know exactly what to look for, they can liaise with the police, consult our own database and then access our special legal team to investigate. After this we will either pass the file to the police for a prosecution or - if they won't take it up - carry out our own.'

The International League for the Protection of Horses launched an advertising campaign last week offering a pounds 5,000 reward to anyone who can provide information leading to an arrest.

'This problem has been getting worse. We now have the infrastructure,the expertise and the intelligence to put an end to it, but we need help from the public,' said Lucy Wickham, a spokeswoman for the league.

Any Information? Call the International League for the Protection of Horses, 01953 498682


British Horse Slashings Continue
England - The Guardian carried a story by Vivek Chaudhary on November 10, 1997 about the continuing tragedy of horse slashings.

HE WAS the pride of the village and a well-loved member of Brian Burton's family. Llancayo Flier, a Welsh cob and former winner of the Royal Welsh Horse Show was settling in for the winter following a busy but productive summer touring the country's horse shows.

The stallion, valued at £10,000, had picked up four awards to add to the 120 he had already won during his 13 years, and owner Mr Burton planned to let him have a well-deserved break at home in the Rhymney valley.

Last week, as usual, Mr Burton, aged 59, who bought Llancayo Flier 11years ago for pounds 1,000, left his former mining village of Aberbargoed,south Wales, to spend the afternoon with the horse.

Later that day, he received a telephone call at home. "A friend rang to tell me the stable was on fire. By the time I got down there it was just a ball of flame. I knew Flier didn't stand a chance. He was burnt alive. The firemen told me he died very quickly. Whoever did it must be very sick. He was well-loved by the whole community and was part of our family."

As Mr Burton, a former miner, was coming to terms with Flier's death,another horse was attacked in north-east England. A piece of rubber tubing was shoved into the horse's mouth and bleach poured down it. The horse died three days later.

Around the same time, a horse in Surrey had corrosive powder thrown on to its genitalia. Four men were arrested but later released.

For Mr Burton and other horse owners, the latest series of attacks form part of a worrying nationwide trend of horses being the target of unexplained attacks.

While the attacks have occurred regularly over the past 10 years, the crime is not just a modern day phenomenon, cases of attacks on horses dating back to the agricultural depression of 1849. But only recently has the equine world resolved to tackle the problem and catch the perpetrators.

Those responsible continue to puzzle psychiatrists and police officers as to their motives, and so far, nobody has been arrested for an attack on a horse in this country. Medical and legal authorities claim it is difficult to build up a psychiatric profile of attackers, but many of the acts are of a sexual nature.

The figures are also sketchy because attacks on horses are registered as criminal damage, but some estimates put the number at about 300 since the beginning of the decade.

In 1993, after scores of attacks across the county, Hampshire police launched Operation Mountbatten, but disbanded it after 18 months with no one charged.

According to the International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH),the number of horse attacks has steadily risen over the years, ranging from what appear to be vendetta attacks involving setting tails or manes alight, to those of a sexual nature with genitalia or eyes being injured or other parts of the body being mutilated. The League documented 60 attacks this summer, many of them of a sexual nature, and a similar number last year.

The organisation has now assembled a team of 15 former police officers and two psychiatrists to look into the crimes. Led by Ted Barnes, a former member of the Metropolitan Police Equine Crime Unit, the campaign will compile a national data base of attacks and try to profile offenders.

A team of equestrian lawyers is providing legal advice and a national helpline has been set up.

Mr Barnes said: "We need to put more resources in to finding the attackers.I'd say the figures we have are the tip of an iceberg."

What experts do agree is that the offenders are probably comfortable with horses, since they seem able to get near enough to carry out the attacks. Clive Meux, senior lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry and a consultant at Broadmoor hospital, believes the pathology of horse attackers is similar to that of sadistic killers who target people. "I think that many of these attackers get some sort of sadomasochistic pleasure from inflicting pain on animals," said Dr Meux. "You often find the human victims of sadomasochistic killers have wounds to their genitals and eyes. What we have with horse attackers is somebody with the same drive and passion but who chooses a horse rather than a human to fulfill sexual desires. But we cannot say whether they will eventually move on to humans."

In Germany, where there have been about 400 horse attacks since 1993,a former horse caretaker was arrested during the summer. He admitted attacking nine horses because of his hatred of women. The attacks bring a chilling reminder of Peter Schaffer's 1973 play Equus, where the main character, Alan, pokes out the eyes of horses, who for him represent love and sexual passion.

For psychiatrists, however, the continued failure to catch a real-life perpetrator means they are still unable to explain why horses in particular are targeted. There have been cases of geese, hens and even guinea pigs being attacked, but horses are the most popular victim. Dr Meux said: "It may be because of the symbolism of horses in mythology and their alleged magical powers."

In the book, Psychopathia Sexualis, one of the most comprehensive works on sadism and animals, which was written in 1886, the German sexologist,Richard von Krafft-Ebing, documents cases of men being sexually aroused by horses, pigs, fowls and rabbits. Sadism, he believed, is hereditary.The author also claimed that "cruelty is natural to primitive man".

For Mr Burton however, those words provide little comfort. He has not been able to eat since the death of Llancayo Flier and is also receiving medication for stress. Despite the death of his horse, though, he is trying to remain optimistic.

"I am planning to buy Flier's daughter and I'll call her Llancayo Lady.She's just as beautiful and impressive as her father, but I'm not going to let her out of my sight."


Horse Mutilations in Germany
The Memphis Commercial Appeal reported in its July 31,1996 edition that since 1992 there have been more than 300 horses mutilated in Germany. Eighty-nine of them were killed in the attacks. These assaults are widespread--occurring in 13 of Germany's 16 states. Only three people have so far been arrested and only one of them convicted. Because the mutilations occur in sparsely populated areas, the attackers are ordinarily gone before police arrive. The president of the German Animal Protection League stated,"I can only say: Horse owners, if you love your animals, please bring them into their stalls at night."
 

German Police Have New Suspect in Horse Mutilation Cases
The Portland Oregonian reported in its August 11, 1996edition that German police have a new suspect in their investigation of the over 300 horse mutilations--89 of them fatal--that have occurred in Germany since 1992. The crimes have occurred throughout Germany and are not believed to be the work of a single person or persons operating asa group. An abandoned car was discovered which contained a stiletto, a saber, a list of horse owners and a local map marked with the owners' locations.The owner retrieved the car. A search of his dwelling turned up the weapons,but not the list or map. He has not been arrested.

Horse Mutilations Continue
Germany -- The Agence France-Presse carried a story onAugust 4, 1997 about four horses that were found with their throats slit in the latest of a series of bizarre equestrian killings. The animals had had their carotid arteries slashed. They were found in Brunow in northern Germany.

In another attack, two horses were stabbed and injured in Borken in western Germany. In recent months, northern Germany has seen a series of killings of horses, sometimes with horrific mutilation. Some of the animals were disemboweled. Another was found with a plastic bag of chloroform tied around its neck.


Horse Death Toll Reaches 34
Nevada -- The Cleveland Plain Dealer carried a story on January 1, 1999 about the death toll in the horrendous slaughter of wild horses in Nevada:

Investigators completed field autopsies on 34 wild horses slaughtered in northern Nevada yesterday and began trying to figure out what kind of person would shoot dozens of mustangs, leaving them for dead. Law officers found the 34th victim late Wednesday when they widened their helicopter search because dead horses were turning up miles from the original shooting scene, apparently limping away wounded before they died. Investigators have dismissed the possibility that the shootings stem from a dispute between ranchers and the government over wild horses competing for feed for livestock.

Horse Slaughter Prompts Reward Offer
Nevada -- The Deseret News carried a story on January 2, 1999 by The Associated Press about a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of persons responsible for the deaths of 34wild horses:

Horses don't talk. But money does.

Townspeople are counting on a reward of $35,000 plus to help catch the killers of 34 horses that used to roam the canyons and hillsides just east of Reno. The wild horses were shot to death at close range with a rifle.

"If there's enough money put up, then somebody will say something about it to somebody," said Lydia Hammack, president of the Virginia RangeWildlife Protection Association in Nevada. "Somebody will be overheardyucking it up in a bar or bragging to their friends."

The slaughter of the wild horses Sunday was the worst in Nevadasince several hundred were shot over a two year period during the mid 1980s.

It has shaken a region that considers wild horses an emblem ofits heritage, attracted the attention of foreigners fascinated by the WildWest and drawn reward donations from across the country.

"We're handling it just as we would a murder," Storey CountySheriff's Sgt. Bill Petty said.

Prosecutors said they will seek charges that could bring twoto five years in prison for each horse killed.

Investigators have dismissed the possibility that the shootingsstem from a long running dispute between the government and ranchers whocomplain the wild horses compete with their livestock for food.

Several young colts and pregnant mares were among those killed.Some were maimed and at least one was blasted with a fire extinguisher.

Many of the wounded suffered for days. Some limped for mileswhen authorities discovered them and put them to death.

"These bullets have chipped the hearts of everybody around here,"said John Tyson, a range management officer. "It offends normal peopleeverywhere, but even more so people in the West who consider these horsespart of our heritage."

Animal protection organizations nationwide are lining up to contribute.The Humane Society of the United States has given $10,000.

Impact of Slaughter on the Community
Nevada -- The Denver Post carried a story on January3, 1999 by Scott Sonner of The Associated Press about the effects on thelocal community of the slaughter:

Bobbi Royle has been on a lot of animal rescue calls but nothing preparedher for the sight of two dozen wild horses shot dead at close range.

"We only saw two horses at first," said Royle of the horse adoptiongroup, Wild Horse Spirit, based in the nearby Washoe Valley.

  "Then, oh my God, we saw another one. And then a fourthand a fifth. It was horrible," she said.

By the end of December, the death toll had grown to 34  the biggest single shooting of wild horses in Nevada since as many as 600were killed during a two year period in the mid 1980s.

"All of the horses appeared to have been shot multiple timesbefore dying," Washoe County Sheriff's Sgt. Bob Towery said Wednesday aftera helicopter search discovered the two latest bodies.

Investigators suspect more than one gunman shot the free roamingmustangs with a high powered rifle over the weekend.

A $35,000 reward was offered by a collection of animal protectiongroups for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of thekillers who apparently used the horses for target practice.

"This kind of stuff is just sick and absolutely senseless," saidPaul Iverson, administrator of the Nevada Division of Agriculture. "Someof them were shot and left to suffer for a long period of time."

Several young colts and pregnant mares were among the victims,including one young filly that was clinging to life when authorities arrivedSunday afternoon but had to be destroyed.

"There was one little filly still alive, probably just eightor nine months old. She was shot in the back and paralyzed," Royle said.

"She could only move her front a little, her head. She had tobe put down."

All of the horses had been shot at close range about 5 mileseast of the Reno Sparks area.

Twenty five of the horses were found in and around a valley knownas Devil's Flat on Dec. 27 and 28. Eight additional horses were discoveredduring a helicopter search the following day. Of those eight, three stillwere barely alive and had to be destroyed.

Some of the mustangs were maimed and at least one was torturedwith sprays to the head from a fire extinguisher after being shot, Towerysaid.

"There's no rationale for it," Towery said.

State officials used a metal detector to locate and remove bulletsfrom the carcasses to be sent to a forensics lab.

"There's just total outrage. People are so upset," said LydiaHammack, president of Virginia Range Wildlife Protection Association inVirginia City. "These animals are magnificent animals and I really can'tunderstand how somebody can do this. It's a real sicko out there."

31 Wild Horses Slaughtered
Nevada -- The Los Angeles Times carried a story on December30, 1998 by The Associated Press about the killing of 31 wild horses inNevada:

Thirty one wild horses were shot to death at close range with a riflein the worst slaughter of free roaming horses in Nevada in a decade, investigatorssaid Tuesday.

"This kind of stuff is just sick and absolutely senseless," saidPaul Iverson, administrator of the Nevada Division of Agriculture. "Someof them were shot and left to suffer for a long period of time."

  Twenty five of the horses were found in and around a valleyknown as Devil's Flat on Sunday and Monday. Six additional bodies werediscovered during a helicopter search on Tuesday.

The horses included several young colts and pregnant mares. Somewere maimed and at least one was tortured with sprays to the head froma fire extinguisher after being shot, sheriff's Sgt. Bob Towery said.

"I have no reason why. There's no rationale for it," Towery said.

One young horse was still alive when leaders of a local animalrescue group were called to the scene Sunday afternoon, but it had to bedestroyed.

"We only saw two [dead] horses at first. Then, oh my God, wesaw another one. And then a fourth and a fifth. It was horrible," saidBobbi Royle of Wild Horse Spirit based in the nearby Washoe Valley.

"There was one little filly still alive, probably just 8 or 9months old. She was shot in the back and paralyzed," she said Tuesday."She had to be put down."

State officials were using a metal detector to locate and removebullets from the carcasses to be sent to a forensics lab. A reward totalingmore than $20,000 was posted for the arrest of the killers.

"There's just total outrage. People are so upset," said LydiaHammack, president of Virginia Range Wildlife Protection Assn. in VirginiaCity. "These animals are magnificent animals and I really can't understandhow somebody can do this. It's a real sicko out there."

Investigators do not believe the killings are related to thelong standing tensions between ranchers and government managers of wildhorses, said John Tyson, a Storey County range management officer. Fordecades, ranchers have complained that wild horses compete with their livestockfor limited food in the high desert.

The slaughter is believed to be the biggest single shooting of wild horses in Nevada since as many as 600 were killed during a two yearperiod in the mid  1980s.

Those shootings were linked to friction with ranchers, said BobStewart, a spokesman for the federal Bureau of Land Management.

Reward Offered for Wild Horse Killers
Nevada -- The Associated Press carried a story on December 30,1998 by Scott Sonner about a reward of $25,000 for the wild horse killers:

Bobbi Royle has seen a lot of animals in trouble but nothing preparedher for the sight of more than two dozen wild horses shot dead at closerange.

"We only saw two horses at first," said Royle, of the horse adoptiongroup Wild Horse Spirit. "Then, oh my God, we saw another one. And thena fourth and a fifth. It was horrible."

  By today, the death toll had grown to 33   thebiggest single shooting of wild horses in Nevada since as many as 600 werekilled during a two year period in the mid 1980s.

"All of the horses appeared to have been shot multiple timesbefore dying," Washoe County Sheriff's Sgt. Bob Towery said today aftera helicopter search discovered the two latest bodies.

A $25,000 reward was offered for information leading to the arrestand conviction of the killers who apparently used the horses for targetpractice several miles east of Reno.

"This kind of stuff is just sick and absolutely senseless," saidPaul Iverson, administrator of the Nevada Division of Agriculture. "Someof them were shot and left to suffer for a long period of time."

Several young colts and pregnant mares were among the victims,including "one little filly still alive, probably just 8 or 9 months old,"Royle said.

"She was shot in the back and paralyzed," Royle said. "She couldonly move her front a little, her head. She had to be put down."

Twenty five of the horses were found in and around a valley knownas Devil's Flat on Sunday and Monday. Six additional horses were discoveredTuesday.

Some of the horses were maimed and at least one was torturedwith sprays to the head from a fire extinguisher after being shot, Towerysaid Tuesday.

"There's no rationale for it," Towery said.

The horses were not technically considered wild horses as definedby the federal Wild Horse and Burro Act because they did not descend fromhorses living on public land at the time the act was passed in 1969.

Investigators do not believe the killings are related to longstanding tensions between ranchers and managers of wild horses over limiteddesert food, said John Tyson, a Storey County range management officer.

State officials used a metal detector Tuesday to locate and removebullets from the carcasses to be sent to a forensics lab.

"There's just total outrage. People are so upset," said LydiaHammack, president of Virginia Range Wildlife Protection Association. "Theseanimals are magnificent animals and I really can't understand how somebodycan do this. It's a real sicko out there." Appearing in the San Francisco Chronicle, Tuesday, Oct. 19, 1967, page 12(following a week of cattle mutilation reports):

`` [ UPI wirephoto labelled "Duane Martin Tested the Horse for Radioactivity" and subtitled "Mrs. Berle Lewis and Leona Wellington examine the corpse"]

HORSE-SAUCER MYSTERY GETS EVEN WEIRDER

Alamosa, Colo. (AP)

An autopsy on a horse, believed by its owner to have been killed by inhabitants of a flying saucer, has revealed that its abdominal, brain and spinal cavities were empty.

The pathologist, a Denver specialist who wished to remain anonymous, said the absence of organs in the abdominal cavity was unexplainable.

Witnessing the autopsy Sunday night at the ranch where the carcass was found were four members of the Denver team of the National Members Investigating Committee on Aerial Phenomena.

The team included Dr. and Mrs. Ken Steinmetz, Dr. Herb Roth and Captain Dick Cable of the North American Air Defense Command Center in Colorado Springs.

When the pathologist sawed into the horse's brain cavity, he found it empty. "There definitely should have been a good bit of fluid in the brain cavity," the pathologist said.

"This horse was definitely not killed by lightning," the pathologist said. That was the official conclusion of Alamosa county authorities.

The Appalcosa's owners said they believe the horse was killed by occupants of a flying saucer. Several others in the San Luis Valley, where as many as eight sightings of unidentified flying objects have been reported in one evening recently, have said they agree.

The controversy over Snippy, a 3-year-old gelding, began September 7 when the horse did not return to the Harry King ranch.

Two days later, King went looking for Snippy and found him dead about a quarter mile from the ranch house. The ranch is 20 miles southeast of Alamosa in desolate mountain country.

All the flesh had been stripped from the horse's neck and head and only bones remained.

King called the owners of the horse, Mr. and Mrs. Burl Lewis, and together they investigated the area in which the horse had been killed.

They said they found areas where the chico brush had been squashed to within 10 inches of the ground. What appeared to them to be 15 circular exhaust marks were found 100 yards from the horse.

Another area was punched with six identical holes, each two inches wide and four inches deep, they said.

The investigating committee Sunday measured markings on the ground and found the largest to be a circle 75 feet in diameter. Several smaller areas where the chico brush had been flattened were 15 feet in diameter.

The committee returned to Denver on Sunday night with several samples taken from the horse and an object, presumed to be a tool, Mrs. Lewis said she found September 16.

Mrs. Lewis said she found the object on her second visit to the site. It was covered with horse hair and she said when she tried to wipe the hair off, her hand turned red and began to burn. The burning persisted until she washed her hands, she said.

The Denver pathologist remained at the King Ranch Sunday night. While there, the group stood on the ranch-house porch and watched two unidentified flying objects pass over the house, King said.


Horse Death Toll Reaches 34
Nevada -- The Cleveland Plain Dealer carried a story on January 1, 1999 about the death toll in the horrendous slaughter of wild horses in Nevada:

Investigators completed field autopsies on 34 wild horses slaughtered in northern Nevada yesterday and began trying to figure out what kind of person would shoot dozens of mustangs, leaving them for dead. Law officers found the 34th victim late Wednesday when they widened their helicopter search because dead horses were turning up miles from the original shooting scene, apparently limping away wounded before they died. Investigators have dismissed the possibility that the shootings stem from a dispute between ranchers and the government over wild horses competing for feed for livestock.

Horse Slaughter Prompts Reward Offer
Nevada -- The Deseret News carried a story on January2, 1999 by The Associated Press about a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of persons responsible for the deaths of 34wild horses:

Horses don't talk. But money does.

Townspeople are counting on a reward of $35,000 plus to help catch the killers of 34 horses that used to roam the canyons and hillsides just east of Reno. The wild horses were shot to death at close range with a rifle.

"If there's enough money put up, then somebody will say something about it to somebody," said Lydia Hammack, president of the Virginia RangeWildlife Protection Association in Nevada. "Somebody will be overheardyucking it up in a bar or bragging to their friends."

The slaughter of the wild horses Sunday was the worst in Nevadasince several hundred were shot over a two year period during the mid 1980s.

It has shaken a region that considers wild horses an emblem ofits heritage, attracted the attention of foreigners fascinated by the WildWest and drawn reward donations from across the country.

"We're handling it just as we would a murder," Storey CountySheriff's Sgt. Bill Petty said.

Prosecutors said they will seek charges that could bring twoto five years in prison for each horse killed.

Investigators have dismissed the possibility that the shootingsstem from a long running dispute between the government and ranchers whocomplain the wild horses compete with their livestock for food.

Several young colts and pregnant mares were among those killed.Some were maimed and at least one was blasted with a fire extinguisher.

Many of the wounded suffered for days. Some limped for mileswhen authorities discovered them and put them to death.

"These bullets have chipped the hearts of everybody around here,"said John Tyson, a range management officer. "It offends normal peopleeverywhere, but even more so people in the West who consider these horsespart of our heritage."

Animal protection organizations nationwide are lining up to contribute.The Humane Society of the United States has given $10,000.


Ranchers Alert after Horse Stabbings
Arkansas -- The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel carried astory on December 8, 1998 by The Associated Press about the horse stabbingsin Arkansas:

  Authorities put ranchers in western Arkansas on alert aftertwo horses  were stabbed to death and eight others were wounded overthe weekend.

Some of the horses were befriended in fields and others werelured  with food to the front of their barn stalls before being attached,Police  Officer Larry Croom said. Two of his horses were wounded justover two  weeks after another of his horses was stabbed to death ina pasture.

  The attacks occurred at three farms Saturday, all alonga quarter mile  stretch of a rural road. All but one of the horseswere stabbed in the  neck or head, Croom said.

"Anyone who can look into the soft, brown eyes of a house andthen stab  it has the profile of a serial killer," police spokeswomanVictoria Harris  said.

F.B.I. Profiles Horse Stabbers
Arkansas -- The Dallas Morning News carried a story onDecember 12, 1998 by The Associated Press about the person or person whostabbed the horses in Arkansas:

An FBI profile describes the attacker in a strange series of horse stabbingsas someone with a friendly personality who may be dangerous when cornered,Barling police said Friday.

Police have footprints from the scene of the stabbings and acalled in tip from a potential witness to aid in the investigation, saidBarling police spokeswoman Victoria Harris.

  She said police have two suspects, one from the Barlingarea, the other from outside the immediate area.

"This [profile] gives us a direction to look in. We can now tryto fit some of the [leads] with this," Ms. Harris said. "This is such adifficult investigation because the victims can't talk."

Two horses have been killed and a dozen injured in the attacksthat began last month and reached a peak last Saturday.

The FBI profile of the attackers indicates suspects who are clean cut and personable individuals, Ms. Harris said. But the profile also indicatesthe actions may be "related to a sexual dysfunction" and that the individualsmost likely have a history of cruelty to animals, she said.

She said the profile identifies the suspects as people who wouldbe dangerous if cornered.

"Trying to find a pattern on this guy is going to be one of ourbiggest assets," she said.

More than 100 tips have poured into the Barling Police Departmentsince this past weekend when the latest attacks took place. Ms. Harrissaid one caller reported seeing a vehicle parked near one of the horsepastures this past weekend. Two sets of footprints and vehicle tracks werefound at the scene.

No motive is known for the attacks. Police have discredited revengeas a motive, even though eight of the 14 horses belong to officials involvedin law enforcement, including Barling and Fort Smith police officers, SebastianCounty deputies and a federal judge.

Businesses, organizations and individuals have contributed morethan $7,000 to a reward fund for information on the case, Ms. Harris said.

More on the Arkansas Stabbings
Arkansas -- The Greensboro, North Carolina News & Recordcarried a follow-up story on December 13, 1998 by the New York Times NewsService about the Arkansas horse stabbings:

  Sugar was the first horse to die. A 12 year old roan, herowner found her in her stall, dead of stab wounds.

Sixteen days later, Haven, a gray 6 year old mare, was founddead in a meadow not far from where Sugar fell. She, too, had been knifed.

  Ten other horses survived attacks, probably because theirattackers were scared off by the shrill neighs and flailing hooves of horsesin terror, the police here say.

The savagery and senselessness of the attacks, on three nightsover the past three weeks, would sicken people anywhere. But in this townof 4,700 people in western Arkansas, where rodeo rivals football in popularity,it is common to see horses grazing in fenced lawns. A regionally renownedquarter horse track is just over the nearby Oklahoma border in Salisaw.

"I've got a 25 year old poodle that needs to die, and I can'teven think of putting her down," said Cliff Amerson, 71, at Big A's Conocostation, where residents gather for coffee and co>


Transfer interrupted!

be mean to one another, but not to animals."

"Somebody is," said Todd Barnes, 28, the owner of Big A's.

The butchery brings to mind the play and movie "Equus," in whichan emotionally disturbed youth uses a sickle to blind a stable of horses.But the police say the assailants in the attacks here   two peopleare believed to be involved   appeared to aim at the throatsof the horses with an unfathomable resolve.

"They weren't trying to just maim the horses, they were goingfor the kill," said Officer Victoria Harris, herself an experienced horsewoman."They were aiming for the jugular vein."

The first attack was on Sugar at River Valley Ranch, a compoundof stables on the town's outskirts, on the night of Nov. 18.

Thirteen days later, a horse was found slashed but alive in nearbyFort Smith.

Then, on the morning of Dec. 5, 10 horses in three of River ValleyRanch's stables, including Haven, were found hacked or stabbed. The stallswere awash in blood, the police said, and the surviving horses, reelingfrom pain and fear, could barely be controlled.

Those effects remain. Last week, Terry Bailey comforted Mighty,a 9 year old registered quarter horse with pink skin stretched againstthe stitches of the wounds she suffered in the attack.

"This is the first day I've been able to catch her and pet her,"said Bailey, 37, a truck driver for whom horses are a family affair. Twoof the horses owned by Bailey and his wife, Ramona, were stabbed in theattack last weekend.

"My wife cried so hard for two days that she couldn't talk,"Bailey said.

Chief Myron LaMora of the Barling Police Department acknowledgedthat, aside from a suspicious footprint, his 12 officers had been unableto recover any physical evidence, knew of no motive and had no suspectsin the attacks, although they are convinced that all are the work of thesame offenders. And in at least two instances, he said, false kindnesscalmed the horses before the attacks.

"They brought them feed before taking the knives to them," hesaid.


Court for one suspect (Jan 17 1999)

One of the suspects accused of killing 34 wild horses in Nevada last month has been to court in Virginia City for arriagnment.

The courthouse was roped off to help protect the first of the three suspects, who are accused of shooting 34 wild horses last month.

Anthony Merlino, 20, of Reno, did not enter a plea, but the young construction worker maintains he is innocent. Merlino and two US Marines are accused of shooting the horses with high-powered rifles. The three went to high school togetherin Reno.

Also arrested was fellow Marine Lance Cpl. Scott Brendle, 21, andconstruction worker Anthony Merlino, 20, high school buddies of Brock. Merlino, who neighbors say bragged about shooting birds in the yardand gutted a deer on his living room carpet, was dressed in a dark suitand tie when he was arraigned Friday before a Storey County justice of the peace.

One of the Marines, Lance Cpl. Darien Brock, 20, says he saw his two friends shoot one horse but doesn't know anything about the other animals killed in a canyon just east of Reno.

``I watched my two friends kill this horse without doing anything about it. Yes, that is wrong. That is what I'm going to court for. But we did not kill 34 horses that night,'' Brock said last week.

The two, with Lance Cpl. Scott Brendle, have the same charges against them -- grand theft, grand larceny and poisoning, maiming or killing another person's animal. The face up to 15 years in jail.

The setting os a preliminary hearing was postponed by Merlino's lawyer, untilthe other two suspects are returned to Nevada from California, where they are stationed.

Brendle, 21, was expected to waive extradition and return to Nevada to face charges, prosecutors said.

Brock says he will fight extradition. He was ordered held on $65,000 bond and his extradition hearing was postponed until Tuesday.

The two Marines were home on leave when the horses were shotDec. 27, authorities said.

Suspects Held in Wild Horse Massacre


Nevada -- The San Diego Union Tribune carried a story on January 13, 1999 by Steve Schmidt about the massacre of more than 30wild horses in Nevada:

In the chalky hills ringing a spot called Hell's Flat, the work of madmenrots in the winter sun.

Some 30 wild horses lie among the desert sagebrush, all shot and leftfor dead. They were struck by rifle fire in the gut, in the rear, in theneck.

Too costly and tough to remove from the rugged area, the horse carcassesare now the property of magpies, coyotes and other scavengers.

Nevada police last night named three suspects, including a Marine basedat Camp Pendleton, in connection with the Christmastime carnage east ofReno.

Lance Cpl. Darien T. Brock, 20, was held last night at Camp Pendletonpending his expected extradition today to Nevada, said a Marine Corps spokesman.

  The Reno native has been stationed at the base since mid1997 and was on leave at the time of the late December killings, officialssaid.

Also named as suspects were Marine Lance Cpl. Scott W. Brendle, 22,of Reno who is based at Twentynine Palms, and Anthony J. Merlino, 21, aReno construction worker. Merlino was arrested last night.

Whether they prove guilty or not, the massacre has set tempers on edge.

"This thing has generated a lot of anger. It violates the dignity ofwho we are," says John Tyson, a Storey County range management officer."For someone to go out and shoot these horses is a personal affront toall of us in the West."

The death of the 33 animals has enraged horse lovers and added a gruesometwist to a long running debate over government efforts to protect wildhorses, the four legged embodiment of America's Western heritage.

Animal protection groups in Nevada say they've been swamped with hundredsof calls from people, including many San Diegans, in anguish over the killings.

"And they all say the same thing: The wild horse is the icon of theWest . . . They represent our freedom," says Dawn Lappin of Reno, directorof Wild Horse Organized Assistance, or WHOA.

The killings seem to have struck a chord among many big city residentsin an age of heightened concern for the welfare of horses in Californiaand other states.

"People from the East Coast and California tell me they may never seewild horses, but they want to know they are there," Lappin says.

But at what price?

Tyson jostled up a rugged dirt road last week in his four wheel driveMazda Navajo, climbing toward Hell's Flat.

As the lead investigator in the horse killings, it's his job to makesense of the senseless.

He shook his head and looked around. Up there, against one hill, wasone of the dead horses, its legs splayed every which way. On another wasa bay colored yearling that was repeatedly shot and then blasted in thenose, mouth and anus with a fire extinguisher.

The wild horse massacre, discovered two days after Christmas, is theworst in Nevada since the mid 1980s, when hundreds were shot over a twoyear period.

One of the three suspects named last night, Merlino, was booked intoa Nevada jail on charges of grand larceny, grand theft and maiming, poisoningor killing a protected animal.

Police were mum on details of what led to them to the suspects.

Marine authorities issued a statement last night condemning "this typeof abhorrent behavior, which is clearly contrary to the values and prinicplesof the Marine Corps."

The killings come at a time of intense debate over government handlingof the wild animals.

Nearly 30 years after the enactment of a federal law protecting wildhorses and burros, efforts to manage the free roaming animals appear indisarray to some experts.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has spent $247 million since theearly 1970s to round up excess horses for adoption, yet their populationin the wild continues to surge. With 22,500 heads and growing, Nevada hasmore wild horses than anywhere else in the nation.

Horse protection groups help look for homes to place horses snared ingovernment roundups, yet fewer Nevadans and others are willing or ableto adopt.

And many ranchers and others complain the horses have become the pestsof the West, with no natural predators. They rob cattle of prime grazingland and spoil watering holes.

"We're almost 30 years into (the federal Wild Horse and Burro Act),and we haven't achieved what the act was meant to do to begin with," Lappincomplains.

Bureau officials disagree, noting that thousands of wild horses in 10western states, including California, have been successfully adopted at$125 per animal. Only the BLM can remove wild horses from federal land.

But they also acknowledge that improvements are needed in the program   and they expect the killings near Reno to spur further debate over horsemanagement.

Congress passed the horse act of 1971 in part to stop so called cowboy"mustangers" from rounding up wild horses and burros and selling them toslaughterhouses.

At the time, there were between 10,000 to 17,000 free roaming horsesnationwide. Today there are about 43,000, even after 28 years of adoptionprograms. Their population in the wild is growing by about 18 percent annually.

The horses found near Reno were not killed on federal land but wereprotected under Nevada law. Some may have been "estrays," animals thatdescended from privately owned horses and were allowed to roam free.

Throughout the West, government protection of wild animals has breddeep animosity, pitting many ranchers and property owners against animalrights groups.

"There's a lot of people around here who don't have a lot of use forthese horses, but no horse deserves to die the way these did," he said.

Seventy five year old ranchers Joe and Jim Peri steered a Ford truckthrough the rocky fields near Hell's Flat, feeding their cattle.

The twin brothers have worked the vast rangeland east of Reno for decades.Just down the road from their ranch house is an elementary school servingthe tiny town of Lockwood.

The Mustang Ranch, the infamous legal brothel, is also nearby.

"It was some lunatic. It had to be," Joe Peri said of the horse killeror killers, a few days before the arrests.

But it's not like the Peri brothers have any love for the animals. Notthat either would even think of taking a gun to them.

The twins said the wild horses steal cattle feed, disturb precious wateringholes and have grown fearless of man and gunfire as their roaming populationclimbs.

Said Jim Peri: "We're trying to make a living off these cows, but thehorses are taking over . . . Hell, we slaughter cows and chickens. Whatwould be wrong with sending some horses to the slaughterhouses?"

Of course, the idea of sending horses to slaughter causes others tohowl in protest. California voters recently approved a measure banningthe slaughter of horses for human consumption.

But nearly everyone agrees that something more must be done.

"I don't think there's anybody that thinks they should all be slaughtered,but they've got to be controlled," said one Nevada lawmaker early last year.

WHOA's Dawn Lappin, who has helped find homes for some 12,000 wild horsessince the 1970s, believes the government needs a more aggressive adoptionprogram.

Adoption centers in the West need to boost their hours and take othersteps to make it easier for a qualified horse lover to take one of theanimals home, she says.

Maxine Shane, a Reno based spokeswoman with the Bureau of Land Management,says horse adoption rates have dipped over the last year, partly due toan increase in feed costs.

Meanwhile, the bureau has started injecting wild mares snared in roundupswith contraceptives in an experimental attempt to control the horse population.

Early last year, a bureau director even raised the idea of euthanizingsome horses considered "unadoptable."

Many animal rights leaders dismissed the idea as unacceptable, but evenhorse advocates like Lappin now say it may be worth considering as a lastresort. "I believe the public would rather have a horse euthanized thanslaughtered," she says.

Anger over the Lockwood killings led to the creation of a $35,000 plusreward to help catch those responsible.

Nevada prosecutors last week said they plan to seek felony charges thatcould bring up to five years in prison for each animal killed.

"It's so upsetting," says Marcia Halttunen, principal of Lockwood'sHillside Elementary School. "It's like someone terrorizing pets. It makesno sense."

"I think it's a disaster," says one Mustang Ranch employee, who identifiedherself as Misty. "There's never enough beautiful animals in the world."


Review of the Nevada Horse Slaughter Case


Nevada -- The Las Vegas Review Journal carried a story on January 18, 1999 by Scott Sonner of The Associated Press about the recentslaughter of over 30 wild horses:

The arrests of two Marines and their high school buddy in the slaughterof free roaming horses east of town brought a sigh of relief from residentsand high praise for police work.

But it's done little to answer the nagging question on the mindsof everyone   from military officers and criminal investigatorsto horse advocates and average citizens who helped raise a $35,000 reward:Why?

"I still just cannot comprehend the mentality that could havedone this," said Lydia Hammack, president of the Virginia Range WildlifeProtection Association.

"It's just so scary to know there are people like that out inthe world with no regard for life," she said.

For many locals, it would make more sense if the men who shot34 horses with high powered rifles were outsiders who didn't appreciatethe beauty of the mustangs or their symbolism of Western heritage. Butthe three suspects accused of "maiming or killing" the horses are in facthomegrown.

Anthony Merlino, 20, Scott Brendle, 21, and Darien Brock, 20,went to high school together in Reno. Brendle and Brock   twoMarines based in California   were back in town on holiday leavewhen the horses were shot Dec. 27, authorities said.

"I wish it was a stranger from some other side of the world,"said Jeanne Gregory, a member of the neighborhood homeowners associationwhere Merlino grew up.

"The brutality was so awful. I just can't believe they livedhere," said Gregory, who attended Merlino's arraignment Friday.

Sheriff's deputies roped off a square block around the VirginiaCity courthouse, built in 1876 on a hillside of the mining town above theBucket of Blood Saloon.

"We have an obvious concern for the safety of the defendant,"Storey County Sheriff Pat Whitten said. "It is an emotional trial."

The case has shaken animal activists internationally. It's beenpart of the daily banter in the Reno area since the string of horse carcasseswas found on the hillside about five miles east of town.

Some of the horses had been tortured. Others limped away anddied over the course of a few days or were put to death by authoritieswho found them critically injured.

The day after the arrests, a disc jockey at a Reno radio stationdedicated the song "Chestnut Mare" by the Byrds to the law officers "whocaught those horse guys.

"What a bunch of maggots," the disc jockey said.

Merlino has maintained his innocence. Brock told a TV stationhe was present when the other two shot one horse but doesn't know anythingabout the other 33 horses.

Local law enforcement teamed up with state livestock officials,the Bureau of Land Management, Naval Investigative Services and the MarineCorps to track the suspects in the three weeks between the shootings andarrests.

"They worked it just like a major homicide case," Hammack said.

Merlino's lawyer, Scott Freeman, said sheriff's deputies, thenews media and former neighbors are trying to convict Merlino without atrial.

"I'd appreciate it if you keep calling him a suspect as opposedto one doing the deed," he told reporters Friday.

Law officers have refused to offer any insight into the motive,other than to say they do not believe the shootings were related to ongoingdifferences with ranchers who don't want the horses competing for livestockforage.

Washoe County Sheriff Richard Kirkland said the arrests werea case of "very good detective work, painstaking, grinding work.

"Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of leads and pieces of informationhad to be tracked down. Ninety nine out of a hundred ended up hitting abrick wall," he said.

Meanwhile, the telephone keeps ringing, Whitten said.

"We've had citizens across the country offer anything from psychictips to offers to bury the horses."


Slaughter Suspect Speaks Out


California -- The Los Angeles Times carried a story onJanuary 16, 1999 by the Associated Press about a suspect arrested in thehorse slaughter case:

A Marine accused of taking part in the slaughter of 34 wild horses saidhe saw his two friends shoot one horse but doesn't know anything aboutthe other animals killed in a canyon just east of Reno.

"I watched my two friends kill this horse without doing anythingabout it. Yes, that is wrong. That is what I'm going to court for. Butwe did not kill 34 horses that night," Lance Cpl. Darien Brock said.

  "I saw them kill one," Brock said in a jailhouse interviewThursday with KGTV in San Diego. "Maybe they did go back, maybe they didn't.Maybe there was somebody else out there, I don't know."

Also arrested was fellow Marine Lance Cpl. Scott Brendle, 21,and construction worker Anthony Merlino, 20, high school buddies of Brock.

Merlino, who neighbors say bragged about shooting birds in theyard and gutted a deer on his living room carpet, was dressed in a darksuit and tie when he was arraigned Friday before a Storey County justiceof the peace.

Sheriff's deputies blocked off the streets for a block aroundthe courthouse.

"We have an obvious concern for the safety of the defendant.It is an emotional trial," Storey County Sheriff Pat Whitten said.

All three men  who attended Reno's Wooster High School together are accused of shooting the wild mustangs that roam the hillsides about5 miles east of the Reno Sparks area.

All three face the same charges  grand theft, grand larcenyand poisoning, maiming or killing another person's animal  punishableby up to 15 years in jail.

Brendle, 21, of Reno, was expected to waive extradition and returnto Nevada to face charges, prosecutors said.

Brock has indicated that he will fight extradition. Dressed ina Navy jail jumpsuit, he did not speak during his arraignment Friday inSan Diego.

He was ordered held on $65,000 bond. His extradition hearingwas postponed until Tuesday so a Reno attorney hired by his family cantravel to San Diego.

The two Marines were home on leave when the horses were shotDec. 27, authorities said.

Brock admitted that he had killed a wild horse years ago. "Ikilled one six years ago," he said.

He said he was shocked and scared when he heard that 34 horseshad been shot in the area where he and his friends had been.

Brock, who was stationed at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, wastransferred to a mental health facility after he mentioned suicide Wednesdaynight, but was later returned to jail.

Brendle was transferred Wednesday from the Marine Corps Air GroundCombat Center in Twentynine Palms east of Los Angeles to a nearby jailpending his extradition to Nevada, said the jail watch commander, Sgt.Gerry Tessler.

Merlino posted $60,000 bail and was released Thursday from theWashoe County Jail in Reno.

At the request of Storey County Dist. Atty. Janet Hess, Justiceof the Peace Annette Daniels ordered Merlino to have no contact with eitherof the other suspects.

She said he should not keep any weapons in his possession orcommit any "acts of violence against animals or people" while free on bail.


Horse Slaughter Suspects


California -- The San Diego Union Tribune carried a story on January 16, 1999 by Steve Schmidt about the suspects who have been arrested:

There are creeps, and then there's Anthony J. Merlino.

To hear many of his former neighbors and teachers tell it, the 20 yearold Nevadan charged with shooting 33 wild horses has a taste for the grisly. He and his buddies would stand on the front lawn of his condo here andshoot songbirds out of the air. His neighbors once saw him carve and cleana deer on his tiny living room carpet.

  "He's dumber than a bag of hammers," claims Melissa Sarenana,who lived next door to Merlino in 1997. "The guy creeped me out bad," shesaid. So it came as no surprise to some Reno residents this week when Merlinowas named one of three suspects in the recent massacre of wild horses justeast of this high desert community.

The construction worker, who was arrested Tuesday and later releasedon $60,000 bail, was arraigned in a Virginia City courthouse yesterdayon charges of grand theft, grand larceny and maiming, poisoning or killinganimals. If convicted, Merlino is expected to face at least 10 years inprison, according to prosecutors.

As a somber faced Merlino watched, Storey County Judge Annette Danielsdelayed setting a preliminary hearing date pending further talks betweenthe prosecution and defense.

Merlino's attorney, Scott Freeman, said his client is innocent, buthe declined to elaborate.

Sabrina Carroll, who has known Merlino for 12 years, attended yesterday'sarraignment to offer him moral support.

She called him a kind hearted person who momentarily snapped. "It wasjust a mistake, you know," she said. "He's really a good, honest person."

Facing the same felony charges are Camp Pendleton Marine Lance Cpl.Darien Brock, 20, and Twentynine Palms Marine Lance Cpl. Scott Brendle,21. Both men, who grew up in Reno, are expected to be extradited to Nevada,although authorities say Brock is fighting his transfer.

Brock, who remains in the custody of the San Diego County Sheriff'sDepartment, was arraigned yesterday on two misdemeanor charges of killingor maiming animals and four charges of felony theft, said San Diego CountyDeputy District Attorney Robert Locke.

However, Brock did not enter pleas to the charges, and the matterof his extradition was not addressed because his family has hired an attorneyfrom Reno who was not present. Brock's next hearing will take place Tuesdayin San Diego.

Unless he chooses to waive extradition, the process of returningBrock to Nevada to face charges could take up to three months, Locke said.

Superior Court Judge Timothy Tower set Brock's bail at $65,000.

In an interview with San Diego's KGTV, rebroadcast late Thursday ona Reno television station, Brock said he played only a minor part in theback country deaths.

"I watched my two friends kill this horse without doing anything aboutit," Brock said in the jailhouse interview. "Maybe they did go back, maybethey didn't. Maybe there was somebody else out there, I don't know."

He also told the station he knew what they were doing was wrong, butadded, "It's just a horse."

"I'm not the animal the media is making me out to be," said Brock, adecorated military rifleman. "I did something wrong and I'm ready to paythe price for it."

Brock also admitted that he had killed a wild horse years ago in anunrelated incident.

"I killed one six years ago," he said.

He said he was shocked and scared when he heard so many horses had beenshot in the area where he and his friends had been.

Merlino, Brock and Brendle attended Wooster High School in Reno together.The school mascot is a colt.

Nevada authorities said they learned the trio might be involved in thedeath of the 33 animals after a relative of a local sheriff's deputy heardsomeone bragging at a party about the shootings, which unfolded over twoor three days in the rugged hills ringing a dusty spot called Hell's Flat.

The discovery of the horse carcasses two days after Christmas shockedanimal rights activists and others throughout the West, who consider thewild horse an icon of the region. Many of the free roaming horses wererepeatedly shot with rifles. At least one, a yearling, was also sprayedwith a fire extinguisher.

Marine Corps officials said Brendle and Brock were on leave at the timeof the incident.

Relatives and close friends of the three men declined to comment latethis week or were unavailable.

Much of the talk around Reno, however, centered on Merlino. Nevada rangemanagement officer John Tyson, a lead investigator in the case, yesterdaysaid he suspects Merlino may have been the ringleader of the incident.

But others dismissed any suggestion that Merlino was even involved.

"I was shocked to hear about his arrest," said M.J. Smith, a woman wholived across the street from Merlino for several months. "He was very kind.He would offer to help me with things if I needed it."

Most people interviewed, however, said Merlino seemed, at best, exceedinglyimmature for his age.

"He was a very malicious person," said Debby Hellen, his senior yearEnglish teacher at Wooster High.

She said Merlino, who graduated from Wooster in 1996, played trickson his classmates that went beyond boyish jokes. For example, he wouldyank chairs from under students as they were sitting down, she said.

Even before he was named in connection with the horse massacre, Hellenand others suspected he might be involved.

"I knew it would happen," Hellen said. "It could have been worse."

At the condo complex where he lived in 1997, Merlino is remembered byseveral neighbors as a loud braggart with an indiscriminate hunger to huntanimals, legally or not.

Early last year, the Nevada Division of Wildlife revoked his huntinglicense after he shot and killed a hawk, a protected species. He also illegallytrapped a fox, state officials said this week.

He drove a tan pickup truck with bullet holes in it. Outside his twobedroom condo, neighbors said, he and his friends would prop up a stuffedanimal near a curb and shoot it with arrows from a crossbow.

"He just thought it was really funny to kill animals," said Sarenana."Killing squirrels, killing ducks, whatever."

Sarenana said she once saw him carve and clean a deer on his livingroom floor.

"He just cut it up right on the carpet," Sarenana said. "There was bloodand ick all over the place and he just left it there for two weeks."

Details were sketchy about Brendle and Brock. Both joined the Marinesin mid 1997, and Brock was decorated early last year for his skills asa rifleman.

One teacher who had Brock in his freshman year at Wooster rememberedhim as decent and generally well mannered. "He seemed like any other freshman,"said the teacher.

A longtime family friend called Brock a "nice middle class kid froma nice middle class family."

Wooster Vice Principal Rick Borba expressed shock that the three men,including Merlino, could be linked to the slaughter. "He was kind of laidback," Borba said. "I never thought he'd do anything like this."

Nevada authorities said several types of firearms were used in the killings,but declined to be more specific, saying the investigation continues.

Nevada is the home of half the nation's estimated 43,000 wild horses.


Nevada -- The Chicago Tribune carried a story on February2, 1999 by Lou Carlozo about the effects on the locality where the horseslaughter occurred:

Animal lovers weren't the only ones outraged when 34 wild horses wereshot to death recently outside Reno, Nev. Even ranchers, who often regardthe mustangs as a nuisance, pitched in reward money to help track the killers.

Police eventually arrested three men in connection with the Decembertragedy. But authorities and animal rights activists still don't know whatprompted the senseless killings.

  "There are people in this world who have no sense of conscience,who for whatever reason are cold blooded and can kill without giving ita second thought," said John Tyson. A former cowboy, Tyson is now a rangemanagement officer for Storey County, Nev. He was the first investigatoron the scene after a jogger spotted the horses.

"This has been a desecration we will not soon forget," Tysonsaid.

The three men arrested last month face up to 15 years in prison.Reno construction worker Anthony Merlino, 20, is free on $60,000 bail.Scott Brendle, 21, and Darien Brock, 20, are Marines stationed at Californiabases. Both are in Marine custody, but face trial in Nevada.

Authorities say Brendle and Brock were on leave in Reno whenthe horses were shot. Brock told a San Diego TV station he saw Merlinoand Brendle shoot one horse on the night of Dec. 26. But he denied thatthe group killed the others.

More than 40,000 wild horses roam the West, including severalhundred near Reno. Most of the Reno horses descended from tame animalsset loose on the range in the 1940s and '50s. They are so gentle "you canalmost walk right up to them and feed them," Tyson said.

Frank Mullen Jr., a reporter for the Reno Gazette Journal, saidthe horses "live on the eastern edge of Reno, in a desert area near theVirginia Range of mountains. Some people don't like them because they comeinto people's yards and graze on their lawns or eat apples off their trees."

But most people love the animals. "A local artist made an oilpainting of the herd several years ago," Mullen said. "He just made prints,and hundreds of people here have ordered them." (Proceeds will go to providefencing and medical care for the remaining mustangs.)

The horses, including colts and three pregnant mares, reportedlywere shot in the gut, neck and hindquarters. One horse was tortured withfire extinguisher spray after being shot. Others crawled hundreds of yardsand slowly bled to death.

The shooting is the worst in decades. "Presumably (the previousshooting) was by ranchers who didn't like them competing with their cowsfor grazing lands," Mullen said. "But this time, there were so many horsesshot in such a brutal way that even the ranchers were angry."

Wild horses became a protected species in 1969. "In the old days,it was quite legal to round up wild horses and sell them for dog food,"Mullen said. "People would make a quick buck doing it."

But the species law protects only those horses on federal land.The 34 horses were shot on state land. So the state has charged the threesuspects with grand larceny, grand theft and killing animals.

But publicity from this case may force Nevada to change its laws."The legislature may say that horses on state land should be protectedthe same way they are on federal land," Mullen said.

Lisa Lange of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals saidthe group hopes cases like this will be taken seriously by judges and prosecutors:

"It's been shown in study after study that a person who abusesanimals rarely stops there."

Want proof? "In all the recent school shootings   Pearl, Mississippi; Jonesboro, Arkansas; Paducah, Kentucky; and Springfield,Oregon    the shooters had a history of abusing animals,"Lange said. "In one case, a kid set his dog on fire."


Profiling the Psychological Makeup of Horse Slashers
United Kingdom -- In London, The Independent carrieda story on October 11, 1998 by Sophie Goodchild about the possible psychologicalmakeup of the people who have been abusing horses:

PSYCHIATRISTS have established a link between paedophiles and the growingnumber of unexplained attacks on horses, which often involve sexual mutilation.

German scientists are to carry out the first full scale studyinto the attacks, which have baffled police and animal protection groupsfor more than a decade.

  The breakthrough has come after one of the first convictionsin Germany for "horse ripping", which has enabled psychiatrists to analysethe attacker's motivation. The convicted man had a history of abusing children.Similar lines of inquiry have not been possible in Britain, because noone has yet been convicted for attacking horses in this way.

The three year study is being backed by the British arm of theInternational League for the Protection of Horses, which hopes it willhelp secure convictions in this country.

The paedophile theory is also to be discussed at the first conferenceon horse mutilation, in Germany next month. The conference will be attendedby psychologists and police involved in tracking horse attackers.

"Horse ripping" was the subject of Peter Shaffer's play Equus,in which a boy called Alan is examined by a psychiatrist to discover whyhe uses an iron spike to put out the eyes of the horses he loves.

In Britain, police and animal experts have blamed fertility cults,rival horse owners and sadists for the attacks.

The worst spate was between 1983 and 1993, when more than 160horses were stabbed and sexually mutilated.

The worst affected county was Hampshire although attacks werealso reported in Humberside, Yorkshire and parts of Scotland.

Hampshire police launched "Operation Mountbatten", after scoresof attacks, but it was shut down 18 months later without anyone being charged.The Metropolitan Police also set up an equine crime unit but this was disbandedin 1996 because of a lack of funds.

Alexandra Schedel Stuppich, a biologist and a horse breeder,is to carry out the research into the mutilations with the help of a psychologistand German police. In Germany, the attacks are on epidemic levels withmore than 300 crimes and 89 horse deaths since 1992.

"There has been little research because it is a taboo subject,"said Ms Schedel Stuppich. "We were lucky in that we were able in this caseto catch up with one of the people involved in these attacks and we couldresearch his history.

"He had been an abuser of children and had a sexual motive forabusing horses. Little girls give a lot of love to horses and there istherefore a psychological connection with children. Paedophiles thriveon that tenderness shown by children and animals but there is also a sadisticside in that it gives them power. It's time we got the experts at one tableto tackle the problem."

One speaker at the conference is expected to be Ted Barnes, amember of the Metropolitan Police Equine Unit for 10 years. Mr Barnes,now a field officer for the ILPH, is convinced there is a link betweenpaedophilia and attacks on horses.

"There are so many similarities between the two crimes," he said."Horses and children are beautiful and vulnerable. Both are innocent, cannotconsent and have a special trust with adult humans.

"I've had a couple of instances as well where people have goneon from mutilating horses to abusing children."

His efforts to trap the horse mutilators have been frustratedby a lack of information about the attackers. He wants police in Britainto follow the example of their German counterparts and refer cases to theILPH after investigation.

"There has never been a central point for information to be collated,"he said. "That is a crucial mistake and it is why we know so little.

"It is a very difficult crime to investigate because of the sexualtaboo.  It's not the sort of thing people would brag about to theirmates down the pub.

"I thought it would take up to two years to solve these attacks.It's now looking like it will take at least five years."

A spokeswoman for the ILPH said the research project is welcomedby horse owners and animal protection groups.

"It's just a pity it's not been done before in this country,"she added.  "We will be closely watching what the Germans come upwith and if a link can be established with paedophilia then it will helppolice over here to tackle the crime and put a stop to it."


Judge Closes Hearing in Wild Horse Slaughter Case
Nevada -- AP Online carried a story on April 14, 2000 by Scott Sonner about closing a pretrial hearing in the wild horse slaughter trial:

VIRGINIA CITY, Nev. (AP) - More than a year after three men were accused of killing 30 wild horses, a judge cleared the way Friday for their trial in the death of only one mustang.

Judge Michael Griffin refused a request to dismiss the lone count remaining against two ex-Marines and their former high school buddy.

While setting a Monday trial date, the judge expressed concern about the ability to seat an impartial jury in the highly publicized case and said he might be forced to move the trial to another county.

Former Lance Cpls. Darien Brock and Scott Brendle and Reno construction worker Anthony Merlino were charged with killing more than two dozen wild horses in the hills near Reno in December 1998. But last month Griffin dismissed all but one charge, citing a lack of evidence.

Griffin ruled Friday that there was no serious violation of the suspects' Miranda rights when they were questioned by investigators. He says with only one slight exception all their statements were voluntary.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday on the charge of killing one horse, a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of up to one year in a county jail and a $2,000 fine.

Griffin's ruling came after he rejected media objections and closed a hearing on a motion to suppress partial confessions by each of the three defendants.

He acknowledged he was taking an unusual step - closing a hearing for only the third time in 20 years on the bench - but said opening it to the public would further jeopardize his ability to seat a jury and ensure the defendants' right to a fair trial in this tiny tourist community.

Griffin said Friday that he had received more than 200 letters criticizing him for dismissing most of the charges. "There are strong opinions about wild horses on the range in this area," he said.

Judge Refuses to Dismiss Horse Slaughter Charge
Nevada – The Chicago Tribune carried a story on April 16, 2000 about a ruling by a judge in the prosecution for slaughter of wild horses:

More than a year after three men were accused of killing 30 wild horses, a judge cleared the way Friday for their trial in the death of only one mustang.

Judge Michael Griffin refused a request to dismiss the lone count remaining against two ex-Marines and their former high school buddy.

While setting a Monday trial date, the judge expressed concern about the ability to seat an impartial jury in the highly publicized case and said he might be forced to move the trial to another county.

Former Lance Cpls. Darien Brock and Scott Brendle and Reno construction worker Anthony Merlino were charged with killing more than two dozen wild horses in the hills near Reno in December 1998.

Change of Venue Ordered in Horse Slaughter Case
Nevada -- The Cincinnati Enquirer carried a story on April 19, 2000 about a court order of change of venue in the wild horse slaughter case:

VIRGINIA CITY, Nev. - In a legal move rarely seen in Nevada, a district judge ordered a change of venue in the case of three men accused of killing wild horses, saying media coverage has stacked tiny Storey County against them.

Two former Marines, Lance Cpls. Darien Brock, 22, and Scott Brendle, 23, and a former high school buddy, Anthony Merlino, 21, were arrested in January 1999. The two Marines were given dishonorable discharges.

The men were accused of killing more than 28 horses with high- powered rifles, but are charged in the death of one mustang, a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Changes of venue are so rare in Nevada that the state Supreme Court doesn't keep track of them, a clerk said Tuesday.

Horse Recovering from Attack
Rhode Island -- The Providence Journal carried a story on April 17, 2000 by Meredith Goldstein about the aftermath of an attack on a horse:

ATTLEBORO - Frosty stuck his chestnut head out of his stall at the Horseshoe Equestrian Center yesterday afternoon, greeting those who paused to admire the decorations tacked to his stable door.

Many passersby stopped to greet the horse and pat his mane and back.

Frosty is much happier, his owners say, now that his emotional and physical wounds have started to heal.

He's getting there, said Alayne Brenner, co-director of the equestrian center. He had stitches taken out last week and he'll have some more out next week.

Two weeks ago, Frosty was released from his Attleboro stall by teenagers, police said. The teens vandalized the center, destroyed equipment and opened the doors of the stalls of the 26 horses.

They took Frosty out of his stall and pulled him onto Route 95. Police had to close the highway from 3 to 4 a.m. March 29 to lead the horse back home. The Attleboro Police Department and equestrian center members and staff are still hoping to catch the culprits.

Frosty's legs were injured during the incident when he was pulled over the highway's guardrail.

Since then, he has become the center of public attention. A local radio station sponsored a fundraiser for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals, local stables and schools have bombarded the horse with get-well cards and Brenner and partner Sherri Savoy have received phone calls from area people who want to help Frosty recover.

Everybody's very supportive, Brenner said. I think everybody is angry that it happened.

Yesterday, Frosty was in good company. The Horseshoe Equestrian Center hosted the first of six horse shows that will take place through September. About 90 young horseback riders from Massachusetts and Rhode Island equestrian centers came to compete.

Frosty would have participated in the event had he not been injured. The dressings have been taken off his wounds, which have been cleaned and treated, but he is not ready to perform.

His owners say they have to walk him on a lead two times a day because he is not healthy enough to roam around on his own. They hope he will be able to participate in shows and lessons by June.

This would have been his busy time, Savoy said. In April, that's when people begin riding again because of the better weather. We have a lot of people who start lessons now.

Frosty is usually used for beginning riders, Savoy said. He is 28 the oldest horse in the stable, and does best with young and new riders who are learning the basics.

Becky Miller, 11, of Attleboro, was one of the Horseshoe riders competing yesterday. She is also one of the many who learned the sport on Frosty's back.

Miller said she has tried to spend time with Frosty since the incident. He is important to the riders, she said, because of his tender temperament.

I just think he has the best personality, she said. He loves anyone as long as you love him."

Man Charged in Death of Wild Horse
Utah – The Deseret News, April 26, 2000 by Hans Camporreales:

A Spanish Fork man has been charged with killing a well-known one-eared wild stallion that thrashed on the ground for almost two days after being shot last fall, according to federal charges.

A U.S. District grand jury handed up a 10-count indictment last week charging Kevin M. Binks, 32, Spanish Fork, in connection with the harassment, abuse and death of a one-eared gray stallion near Delta in September.

The indictment, unsealed Monday, alleges Binks was in the Swasey Springs area of Millard County on Sept. 24 and spent some time harassing wild horses. The next day, Binks "did willfully and maliciously injure, treat inhumanely, and cause the death" of the wild horse, according to the indictment.

Bureau of Land Management investigators said the stallion was shot in the hind legs with a rifle near the Swasey Mountain area, about 30 miles west of Delta, said U.S. Department of Justice spokeswoman Melodie Rydalch.

"The stallion was well known to horse enthusiasts in the area and was easily recognized because he had only one ear," Rydalch said. "The stricken horse struggled for about 40 hours attempting to raise himself to a standing position, causing considerable injury to his head and body as he repeatedly thrashed against the ground."

A BLM ranger discovered the horse and euthanized him, Rydalch said.

Binks is charged with two violations of the federal Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act as well as possession of firearms by a felon and making false statements to a federal agent and making false declarations before a federal grand jury.

If convicted, Binks could be sentenced to spend more than 50 years in prison.

Federal agents arrested Binks in Nephi Monday. He is scheduled for a detention hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald Boyce Wednesday.

Persons Accused of Wild Horse Slaughter to be Tried for One Killing Only Nevada The Portland Oregonian, March 12, 2000 by Sandra Chereb of the Associated Press:

The case against three young men charged in the mass killing of wild horses east of Reno, Nev., now hinges on whether prosecutors can prove they shot and killed a single horse.

Anthony Merlino, 21, and two former Marines, Darien Brock, 21, and Scott Brendle, 22, were accused of shooting more than two dozen free-roaming horses in the hills east of Reno in December 1998. They admitted they shot at one horse but denied any other involvement.

Last week, District Judge Michael Griffin ruled the former high school buddies from Reno can be tried in the death of only one animal. The gross misdemeanor of maiming or killing another person's animal carries a maximum penalty of up to one year in a county jail and a $2,000 fine.

If convicted of the original charges, the three men had faced up to 10 years in prison.

"Without the admission of the defendants you have no case," Griffin told Deputy Storey County District Attorney Sharon Claassen at the conclusion of a two-hour hearing.

Claassen conceded her case was based largely on circumstantial evidence, but she argued that the defendants' presence in the area around the time of the killings and their admission to the shooting of one horse was enough to let a jury decide their guilt or innocence in the mass slaughter.

But the judge said there were no ballistics or other physical evidence linking the trio to the other horse killings.

Claassen said her office would decide within a week whether to appeal Griffin's ruling.

The three men are scheduled to go to trial next month. But before the case proceeds, Griffin said prosecutors will have to amend their complaint and specify exactly what each of the men did to the one remaining animal, referred to as horse No. 12.

According to investigators, Brock confessed to holding a spotlight while horses were shot on Dec. 27, 1998. Brendle admitted he shot and wounded one horse but says he didn't kill it. And Merlino said he finished off one wounded horse to end its misery.

The slaughter gained national attention. After their arrests, Brock and Brendle, were given the equivalent of a dishonorable discharge from the Marines.

Defense lawyers, who have maintained the three men arrived on the scene after most of the horses were already dead, were pleased with Griffin's ruling.

"We've got one horse, and Mr. Brock is accused of holding a spotlight," Marc Picker, Brock's attorney, said after the hearing.