SANFORD — The slaying of about 10 rabbits and dumping them near the fire department across from the L.D.S. church in Sanford on Sunday was more than a cruel April Fools’ Day joke.
Retired educator and law enforcement officer Keith Bodner, who reported the incident, is concerned the animal killing could hold an even more sinister meaning and could lead to harm towards humans by the perpetrator or perpetrators.
“This was no accident,” Bodner said. “This is evil.”
He said there could be numerous motives behind the rabbit killings on Sunday, all of which are horrible.
“It’s right across from the church, and it’s Easter Sunday. Is this either a cruel joke or is this actually a threat to the LDS community in Sanford?”
He said although it might seem far fetched for a threat, “at the same time some people’s minds work really sickly … It’s Easter Sunday. Is it a satanic or ritualistic killing? Were they left in front of the church as a way to counter the holiday of Easter?”
Rabbits and the “Easter bunny” are associated with Easter.
“Maybe it’s funny to somebody. I don’t think there’s any humor that I see,” he added.
Bodner was on his way to a friend’s house for Easter Sunday dinner around 1:30 p.m. on April 1 when he noticed a pile of something in front of the Sanford fire station, in between the fire station and Sanford Museum, and right across from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“I said ‘something’s not right’,” he recalled. “In my heart, I am still a cop.”
As he got closer Bodner saw a pile of dead rabbits, about eight in one heap and two in another. Some of the rabbits were cottontails, some jackrabbits. According to his training in law enforcement, Bodner took many photos of the scene, the setting, tire tracks and blood on the road where it appeared each rabbit had been methodically run over one at a time. He also filed a report with the Conejos County Sheriff’s Office.
(Anyone with information regarding this incident can call the sheriff’s office at 719-376-2196 or San Luis Valley Crimestoppers at 719-589-4111. Calls to Crimestoppers may be anonymous.)
Surveying the scene more closely he quickly dismissed an initial thought that the animals might have died naturally and someone did not know what to do with them. He could see that the killings were deliberate and intentional.
“This is very premeditated,” he said.
Bodner said as disturbing as the incident itself is the possibility it could be a precursor to violence towards humans, for example a young person preparing himself for an attack.
“These acts on animals are used as practice to harden themselves so they are not bothered by killing,” Bodner explained. “It’s important to stop this person or people.”
Those responsible can be charged with a felony aggravated animal assault (mutilation, torture or sadistic killing of an animal), which in this case would be multiplied 10 times over.
Bodner said this is not the first instance of animal killings in Sanford. He is aware of cats that have been killed and left on the road, dogs that have been stolen and dogs that have been shot and left on the road. The rabbit killings could be associated or linked to a new perpetrator.
Bodner recommended to Sanford residents to keep their animals secured on their properties, “because this person will be back.”
Caption: Dead cottontails and jackrabbits lie in heaps by the road across from the L.D.S. church in Sanford on Easter Sunday./Photo courtesy of Keith Bodner