Nov 20, 2008

Satanic Mutt Murder

As with most good deeds and jobs well done, I was rewarded. My city mayor read my name in the local paper in connection with a homicide investigation and a successful conclusion. So he called my captain and asked that I be put on a very special case; a case involving murder, dismemberment and (gasp) the specter of Satanic worship.

The mayor’s neighbor had a dog by the name of Peanut. It seems that one night Peanut did not come home, and the following morning, Peanut was found dead in the back yard. Peanut’s little half chihuahua, half beagle body had been “cut” open and “mutilated”; of particular note was (spooky music- Dum dum DUM) an absence of blood. The police had immediately been called and a patrol officer was dispatched, who looked at the corpse and said,
“Looks like a coyote got him.”
The beat cop took a couple of pictures of the carcass, wrote a line or two about a dead dog in a report; spilled some coffee on the report form and turned it in. It got some laughs in the records division and there it sat.

Fast forward about 7 days. I am at my desk returning one of about 16 calls from the DA’s office when the Captain tosses me a post-it note and tells me,
“Call this lady about her dead dog.”
It seems our fair city’s Berger-Mister had championed his neighbor’s complaint regarding the police not doing anything about this horrible crime done to poor peanut; AND, one of our local TV stations had been called and were going to air how Satanic cults were running amuck and mutilating dogs.

I called the woman and was told how she had the dog autopsied (for the one word nerd out there, I know it is actually “necropsied”) by here local vet, who concluded that the dog died of puncture wounds and had it’s abdomen sliced open and the spleen was “surgically” removed.
“Surgically?” I asked,
“Did they find rubber gloves and a scalpel nearby?”
Mother Peanut was not amused; she yelled at me for a moment over the phone, cursing quite heartily for someone who lives next to the mayor. I quickly remembered that I am NOT Screamin’ Remo and can’t get away with that kind of humor; I quickly apologized and said I would get right on Peanut’s… er… murder. Word of me on this case spread like influenza throughout the Detective Division. I soon had “Pet Detective” jokes and barking sounds coming at me from all cubicles, even as far away as the Traffic Division and Arson. Humiliating.

I called the Vet. He told me that the lady came in with this dead dog and insisted on a necropsy; at 150 bucks an hour, who is he to argue? He told me that it did appear as though the dog was stabbed, the abdomen cut open and the spleen cut out; also there was little or no blood. He thought that this could be, as the women suggested to him, a result of a satanic cult ritual that he had read about in books. I asked,
“couldn’t this be caused by a coyote?”
“Ahhhh… I guess. I should have thought about that before I gave that TV interview.”

What???!!? That’s right, I turn on a TV and just catch the end of a “Disturbing report of evidence of satanic activity!” on channel 6…. great. Doc calls this lady back and tells her that he has “Thought over” his initial diagnosis, and he is now convinced that the damage done was a predator. The lady cusses him out, then pays to have the Forensic Necropsy Lab at Washington State University look at Peanut; and why not? She’s going to pay their fee of $6000.00; for that kind of money I’d tell her the dog was killed by Princess Dianna.

Long story short, (opps… too late) WSU labs report back, a “Large carnivore” was responsible for death with “Secondary predation.” Nothing sinister, nothing shocking, nothing even all that funny; just a horrible waste of my time. Took at least a half hour out of my coffee drinking time.

What follows was the local newspaper article that followed the TV report. I was misquoted at the end, I was not “Puzzled” by the cutting, I was puzzled by how some vet, (who I assume went to college for more than 15 minutes) could mistake this whole thing for something other than a hungry Wily Coyote. Also- the author of this article thought it was funny to call me “YPD’s Pet Detective.” Right… he doesn’t have to put up with guys from Community Services making fun of him.

Family reeling after longtime pet found dead, missing spleen
by Rod Antone Yakima Herald-Republic

The mystery involving Peanut hasn't been solved entirely, but investigators are pretty sure they know how the pet died. When neighbors discovered Debbie ---------‘s dog on her front lawn along 85th Avenue earlier this week, the 10-year-old dachshund mix was missing its spleen. What struck her veterinarian was that the spleen seemed to have been surgically removed. There was even suspicion that Peanut might have died at the hands of humans.

But based on preliminary necropsy results from animal experts at Washington State University, Peanut probably died by a large dog or coyote shaking it by its neck, said ---------‘s veterinarian, Dr. --------. The family pet had puncture wounds in the neck area and damaged vertebrae.

The WSU results, however, did not provide a definitive explanation as to why the dog had been cut open and its spleen removed. "We may never know what happened regarding that," ------ said. --------- said she was heartbroken when neighbors found Peanut dead and that she had her beloved pet buried at her mother's ranch. Then her ex-husband offered to hire a private investigator to find out what happened.

Her vet offered to look at Peanut's body himself. ------- said he was struck by the fact that the incision into Peanut was clean and not "ripped into" like he would have expected from an animal attack. Because he doesn't have much experience in necropsies, he sent the dog to the WSU Animal Sciences Department for further examination.

Yakima pet Detective Dave Kellett said late Friday that based on the preliminary findings from WSU, police are leaning toward classifying the cause of death as damage from a predator rather than injuries from mutilation. "Throughout history, (injuries caused by) predators have been mistaken for mutilation. We see that here," Kellett said. "In fact, it might even be two different animals. Peanut could have been killed by a larger animal and then its spleen removed by a smaller animal, maybe even a bird."

Earlier in the day, he noted that this is the season for increased attacks by predators. The West Valley area where -------- lives also is known for coyotes. With coyote attacks, Kellett said, there can be a lack of blood and puncture wounds. Coyotes often lap up blood and cause wounds with their teeth that can look like knife wounds.

But he, too, was puzzled by the veterinarian's report of a precise removal of the spleen. ---------‘s friends and family are offering a $1,200 reward for information involving Peanut's death.

Anyone with information can call her ex-husband, ---, at --------. "The general public just doesn't understand what we're going through right now," -------- said.


Remo said...

I see the Acute Political Emergency (APE) case factor exists up there as well. I'm surprised our bosses don't activate ICS everytime the Mator doesn't get his paper on the doorstep.

Is it just me or does the Ex seem to have a rather "prominent" interest in this woman's welfare?

Remo said...

Oops. "Mayor."

Donna said...

Funny stuff here.

Myra said...

Awww, you always get the good cases!

Kathy said...

And to think I couldn't get anyone to look into the fact that a local policeman shot and killed my friend's dog. It could not have happened the way he said it did.

I feel sorry for Mama Peanut, just goes to show you how money can make you do crazy things. She shouldn't have let the dog out alone if you have coyotes around.

Too bad the other detectives made fun of you. I am sure that a time will come that you will be able to laugh at an assignment they get.