For more than 10 years, Gary Murray has come upon his livestock, discovering carcasses slaughtered and beheaded in or near their pens. His outbuildings have been vandalized, electrical wiring and copper tubing has been stolen and wild dogs seem to have set their sights on his property. But Dec. 23 has been the worst.
That’s when he went to his property and found nine of his goats — four of which were pregnant — slaughtered. The area, only a little more than an acre, is where Murray kept his goats, chickens, turkeys, ducks and other livestock. The animals don’t roam free; they are all in pens and locked up at night. Security lights are placed in strategic spots, but that has not helped.
Deputy Clay Joyner, who investigated last week’s episode, thinks this time it’s the work of dogs, perhaps wild dogs that have been seen in the area.
“I found a hole under the fence where it looks like the dogs dug under the fence and got in to get at the goats. Their faces and ears had been mauled consistent with what a dog might do,” Joyner said.
But this is the fourth time this year Murray has had to call law enforcement to his property.
“This year I think I have lost about $10,000 in property and livestock, and there doesn’t seem to be a thing anybody can do about it,” he said.
Murray said thieves have stripped copper tubing out of a central air conditioning unit, walked off with window air-conditioning units, stripped an electrical box of all wires. But the most bothersome thing to Murray is the senseless slaughtering of his animals. He said he started with 40 chickens at the beginning of the year, and now he is down to one hen and one rooster. Two of the three turkeys he had are gone as well as ducks, geese, and about 20 of the 40 goats are gone, too.
Also gone are the grandchildren’s go-karts, power tools and other items he once kept. One man, Murray said, felt so bad he returned a power drill. But neighbors never see or hear anything, they tell Murray and law enforcement officers when they ask.
“It would be different if they were taking the animals to eat. But I have come out here and found livestock dead all over the ground with no heads or ears. The heads have been cut off and either taken with them or thrown away. The funny thing is, I’ve never seen the heads. It’s eerie to come out and just see headless animals all over the ground,” he said.
Once a beheaded goat was taken about 200 yards from the property and placed on the steps of a nearby church.
Murray likes animals. So after driving a Greyhound bus for 30 years, he retired and only wanted to live peacefully and raise his animals. Someday he planned to open a community store that would sell small house and food items as well as hamburgers and ice cream.
The sign “Murray’s” still stands, but thieves made off with metal and about everything else that could be snatched up and hauled off, including the air conditioner, before he could open the store.
He wanted the little compound to be an area where his grandchildren could play and learn to love animals as he has done.
But Dec. 28, Murray, walking around his property, said he has about given in to vandals, thieves and whatever else seems to be bent on trying to destroy everything he is trying to build.
“I don’t get angry anymore; I’m just hurt. If I ever re-stock, I’m going to have to spend some money because I’m going to put the top-of-the line cameras all around here,” he said.
For years he has raised goats, chickens, ducks, turkeys and more. He mostly sells his specialty livestock to people who don’t want it frozen and prefer to know where what they’re eating comes from and what it has been eating. Occasionally a teacher will bring a small group of school children to visit.
“This has been going on since Woodham was sheriff. He would come out here and we’d talk about it, but there didn’t seem to be anything they could do. Now, it doesn’t seem there is anything this sheriff and deputies can do, either,” Murray said.