Photo by Flickr user hddod.
By Pat Reavy, Deseret News
PARK CITY (Utah) — Seven dead chickens and a dead goat — most of the animals decapitated — were discovered on a sidewalk Monday in Park City.
Now, police are trying to determine if people involved in some sort of cult or religious ritual are responsible.
An anonymous tip led police to the corner of Bonanza Drive and Munchkin Road just after 2 p.m.
“The animals had been dumped on a street corner,” said Park City Police Capt. Rick Ryan. “They weren’t piled on top of each other. It had to take time to set them out. They were all laid out together. All but one of the chickens had their heads removed.”
There was no blood at the scene, leading investigators to believe the killings happened somewhere else. None of the missing heads were found.
As of Wednesday morning, there had been no reports of missing farm animals, Ryan said.
There was no decomposition in the carcasses, leading investigators to believe the killings were relatively recent. A veterinarian was going to be used to examine the animals to try and determine how long they had been dead and what instrument was used to kill them.
Ryan said the incident seems to be more than just juvenile mischief.
“We’re not looking at it as a prank,” he said. “Some type of religious or satanic ritual, that’s where the focus is going to be.”
Ryan said he had never seen or heard of a problem with animal sacrifices from cult-like groups in the area before.
Detectives planned to check surveillance cameras from the busy intersection.
This is the kind of news story you see a lot, and it’s easy to overlook because it’s part of our “common wisdom” that animal mutilations equal occult or Satanic activity. However, much of that “common wisdom” comes from articles like this one, where we read something like this and assume it must be true because a police officer said it and then it ran in the newspaper.
Notice how few facts there are in this story. We have a lineup of animals, some chickens and a goat, with missing heads. There’s no blood where the animals were found. In fact, there’s nothing at all but these headless animals, apparently.
First, let’s look at the location, which the reporter didn’t. A quick peek at Google Maps reveals that the corner of Bonanza Drive and Munchkin Road (Really? Those are street names?) in Park City is the site of a yoga studio, a ski-rental shop, and a law firm, plus a small shopping center. The Park Record, a local newspaper, has offices nearby. This site doesn’t scream “animal sacrifice.”
Second, let’s look at the date. December 18 isn’t particularly significant in any occult tradition. It would be much more telling if these bodies turned up on December 21, the day of the winter solstice, along with a full moon and eclipse. Also, the bodies were found in the middle of the afternoon, but there’s no indication regarding when they were left. At night?
There are very few occult traditions in which animal sacrifice is sanctioned, and in none of them would the bodies be sacrificed and bled in one location and then moved to another, which is what the police claim happened here. These animals were not treated with reverence, as they would be in a sacrifice. They were left out for show, for someone to find them and be shocked. Despite what the police say, that absolutely sounds like a prank — even if it’s a pretty sick one.
Keep in mind that harming animals is often a sign that a teen may be on the road to a more serious mental-health issue, such as antisocial personality disorder (psychopathy or sociopathy). If you look through the profiles of America’s most notorious serial killers, this is the kind of thing they were up to while their peers were sneaking cigarettes and driving too fast on country roads.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the Park City police got that particular memo.