Missing link in Littleton
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 1999:
LITTLETON, Colo.––Of the mob
of reporters who tried to find out why Eric
Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, killed 12
fellow students and a teacher, then shot themselves
on April 20 at Columbine High School in
Littleton, Colorado, only Mitchell Zuckoff of
the Boston Globe mentioned––even in passing––the
clue that seemed to explain the most.
“Several students,” Zuckoff wrote,
“said Harris, Klebold, and their friends spoke
of mutilating animals.”
Columbine High School is an easy
jog from the offices of the American Humane
Association in Englewood, a neighboring suburb
of Denver. The AHA has promoted awareness
of the link between violence toward animals
and violence toward humans since 1876––
to wit, that people who harm animals are highly
likely to harm people, too, especially if the
actions toward animals go unpunished.
Within hours of the killings, the
AHA “Link” web site featured instructions on
how to send aid and comfort to the victims’
families, plus background on the AHA campaigns
against animal and child abuse––but did
not discuss the Littleton animal abuse aspect.
But it wasn’t as if the link should
have surprised investigators. Teens who committed
11 other recent mass homicides, mostly
at schools, all had backgrounds including animal
torture and/or sport hunting. A N I M A L
PEOPLE published the details in a May 1998
page one feature.
In Renton, Washington, 17-year-old
Jessey Boyd watched TV news reports from
Littleton on April 20, told his mother that he
and his friends might do the same thing, and
stomped outside after being rebuked, saying he
was going to kill someone. Police said Boyd’s
mother found a decapitated kitten on the porch
just moments later. Boyd reportedly admitted
beheading the kitten and damaging his mother’s
car with a skinning ax, used by fur trappers to
flense hides. He was charged with animal cruelty
and malicious mischief.
Animal abuse was also the evident
backdrop to a recent triple murder in Adams
County, Colorado, where sheriff’s deputies on
March 31 found the bodies of three Mexican
citizens and a dead rooster at an alleged cockpit.
The victims were identified as Ildefonso
Javier Penaa, 28; his brother Felipe Penaa, 27;
and Jesus Antonio Cordova-Gandara, 29.
Other recent “link” cases should have
been remembered by people on the crime beat:
• The 11-year-old twin sons of
William Harvey Bawcum Jr., 46, and Deborah
Bawcum, 45, of Kittrell, North Carolina,
were charged on April 2 with fatally shooting
him and wounding her, also wounding their
sister Robin, 16. Recounted Associated Press,
“Mr. Bawcum was an avid hunter and fisherman,
and the boys practiced with BB guns on
the family’s thickly wooded lot.”
• Investigating an alleged threat to
kill U.S. President Bill Clinton, police in
Springfield, Oregon, in early March 1999 took
Larry Lee Dutton Jr., 35, into custody for psychiatric
evaluation. Returning to the Dutton
home to interview his wife, who is paralyzed,
they found the remains of a cat who had been
tortured and dismembered in the bathtub.
Dutton was charged with felony animal abuse.
• Jessica Holtmeyer, 16, of Clearfield,
Pennsylvania, in January 1999 drew life
in prison for hanging Kimberly Jo Dotts, a
learning-disabled 15-year-old, and then
smashing her face with a rock.
Said Associated Press, “Jessica was
known as a bully. People told stories of her
setting cats on fire and strangling a poodle.”
An accomplice, Tracy Lynn Lewis,
24, drew five to 20 years in prison. Another
accomplice, Aaron Straw, 19, is reportedly
still awaiting trial.
• Also in western Pennsylvania,
handicapped hunter Alan Waterhouse, 46, of
Mt. Pleasant, on October 10, 1998 killed
Jeremy Barnhart, 9, and wounded Cori Barnhart,
14, who were youngest son and daughter
of his former girlfriend, Cheryl Barnhart.
Waterhouse then killed himself after a 12-hour
standoff and brief shoot-out with police.
Neighbor Ted Brown, 18, said he’d
seen Waterhouse dynamiting fish. Recalled
Brown, “He just liked to blow stuff up.”
• In Jonesboro, Arkansas, where
young hunters Mitchell Johnson, 13, and
Andrew Golden, 11, killed four female classmates
and a teacher on March 24, 1998, Todd
Anthony Looper, 31, on February 2, 1999
drew 60 days in jail, a year on probation, and
fines totaling $510 for beheading his estranged
wife Amy Looper’s cat and using the head to
weigh down a threatening note to her .
The note, promising Amy Looper “a
birthday like you never will forget,” was
scrawled on the back of one of their four-yearold
daughter’s coloring books.
Said Jonesboro police lieutenant B.J.
Smith, “Any time someone kills an animal to
make a point, it’s an attention-getter for us.”
Northeast Arkansas Humane Society
volunteer Ruth Scroggin was “ecstatic,”
according to Kenneth Heard of the A r k a n s a s
D e m o c r a t – G a z e t t e, that Todd Looper got as
much jail time as he did. But Craighead
County judge Pamela Honeycutt could have
given him a year in jail just for the animal cruelty
charge, and more time plus a much longer
probation for “terroristic threatening.”
Amy Looper reportedly fled to a
Ironically, the association of alleged
animal abuse with alleged violent crimes
against humans seemed to persuade some
members of a jury in Knox County, Tennessee,
in mid-February that they could not
find former Knoxville Zoo elephant keeper
and alleged cat-burner Thomas D. Huskey
guilty of killing four women in 1992 and leaving
their remains near the zoo. Instead, the
jurors argued, Huskey was not guilty by reason
of insanity. Judge Richard Baumgartner
declared a mistrial. District attorney Randy
Nichols pledged that the case will be retried.
Huskey is already serving a 66-year sentence
for attacks on other women.
Additional recent “link” cases:
• The Reverend Javan McBurrows,
47, of Philadelphia, was reportedly charged
with murder in mid-January 1999 for allegedly
beating 4-year-old Michael Davis to death
because the child wet his pants.
According to Philadelphia Daily
News staff writers Gloria Campisi and Yvette
Ousley, McBurrows “was convicted of beating
his wife in 1995 and was placed on probation.
He was convicted of cruelty to animals
in 1991, and two dogs, a St. Bernard and a
Rottweiler, were taken away from him.”
• In Columbia, South Carolina, on
January 12, Thomas Wayne Javis, 42, was
charged with two counts of assault and battery
with intent to kill for allegedly attacking
unarmed animal control officers Eilene Ayoub
and Laura Rohlfing when they tried to question
him about two suspected dog poisonings.
Javis previously was convicted of
voluntary manslaughter for killing his brother
in May 1975, and of “assault and battery of a
high and aggravated nature” in February 1988.
A “link” case possibly reversing the
usual progression from animal to human victims
hit the news on March 18, when police in
Tequesta, Florida, arrested Ralph “Jamie”
Hayes, 18, for allegedly shooting two horses
a total of six times with a .22 rifle.
Associated Press said Hayes “was
already serving a 15-year probation” for burglary,
theft, conspiracy, and related gun
offenses, and “was acquitted in July 1998 of
slipping his electronic house arrest bracelet in
1996 and running down his girlfriend [fatally] in a car.”
Classic “link” theory suggests that
doing violence toward animals lowers inhibitions
against wreaking mayhem of any kind,
and that doing violence may also be addictive,
so that thrill-killers advance to harming
humans to recapture excitement they may feel
less intensely after several murders of animals.
But the inhibition-lowering effect
may also extend to less violent wrongdoing.
And persons already engaged in crime against
humans may use either actual or vicarious participation
in animal abuse to help them maintain
the frame of mind they need to act.
Internal Revenue Service special
agent Frank DeRosa hinted at such an association
on March 16 in Tampa, asking a federal
judge to keep Greater Ministries International
founder Gerald Payne in jail pending trial for
alleged fraud and money laundering.
According to Michael Fechter of the T a m p a
T r i b u n e, DeRosa testified that Payne has
access to multiple passports and foreign bank
accounts; that he usually carries a gun in his
boots or his car; that his wife and co-defendant
Betty Payne was carrying a handgun
when arrested; and that U.S. Customs agents
in Atlanta found 26 videotapes depicting bestiality
in Payne’s luggage in December 1997.
Statistically abstracting 688 recent
animal hoarding cases, involving 661 individual
perpetrators, and more closely studying
specific representative cases, ANIMAL PEOPLE
pointed out in a January 1999 cover article
that crimes of mass neglect and prolonged
neglect appear to be passive/aggressive correlatives
of violent offenses.
In other words, the perpetrators may
wish to harm the victims without having to
acknowledge intent––even to themselves––to
the extent of actually picking up a weapon and
doing a violent deed.
As we wrote, former Land O’Lorin
Wildlife Farm & Zoo owner Lorin Womack,
48, of Batavia, Illinois, was arrested for
allegedly offering an undercover police officer
$1,400 to kill the husband of a married woman
he was dating––trying to arrange the man’s
murder without taking an active role in it.
Police said Womack’s motive was at
least partially to collect money from the
intended victim’s life insurance policy.
The USDA Animal and Plant Health
Inspection Service repeatedly penalized
Womack between February 1992 and July
1997 for allegedly neglecting the Land
O’Lorin animals. After USDA-APHIS suspended
Womack’s exhibition license for 10
years, he turned Land O’Lorin over to a new
board of directors who renamed it the
Deerpath Animal Haven & Zoological Park
Inc. Womack still lived on the premises.
In July 1998, noting that conditions
had not improved, USDA-APHIS announced
that the facility had been permanently closed.
The American Sanctuary Association,
Sarasota In Defense of Animals, the
Fund for Animals’ Black Beauty Ranch, JES
Exotics, the Shambala Wild Animal Refuge,
Wild Animal Orphanage, and the Exotic
Feline Rescue Center collaborated to place all
the animals who were left homeless.
Most of the hundreds of “link” cases
archived by ANIMAL PEOPLE during the
past decade have involved apparent sexual
frustration and/or abnormal sexuality, traits
exemplified by the Marquis de Sade himself,
for whom sadism was named.
Aware of that fact, and that stalking,
killing, and dismembering animals is not only
legal but legally encouraged if done by sport
hunters, ANIMAL PEOPLE in 1994-1995
compared hunting license sales with rates of
crimes against children in the 232 counties of
Michigan, New York, and Ohio. These three
states together have 14% of all the licenced
hunters in the U.S. and each keep records pertaining
to child abuse in a similar manner.
The object was to see if cultural tolerance
of hunting is reflected in recorded levels
of sadistic exploitation––bearing in mind
that most investigators of child abuse believe
cases are least likely to be reported in rural
areas, because there are fewer witnesses.
Michigan and upstate New York,
exclusive of New York City, had closely parallel
per capita income, population density,
and unemployment rates––but Michigan, selling
twice as many hunting licenses per capita,
had nearly eight times as much child abuse,
and twice as much sexual abuse of children.
Within New York, in 21 of 22 comparisons
of counties with almost identical population
density, the county with the most
hunters also had the most child molesting.
Twenty-eight of the 32 counties with more
than the median level of hunting also had more
than the median level of child molesting.
In Ohio, counties with above median
hunting activity had 51% more child abuse,
including 15% more physical violence, 82%
more neglect, 33% more sexual abuse, and
14% more criminal emotional maltreatment.
Despite the probability that such
crimes against children are under-reported,
the findings strongly indicate that the “link” is
generally understated in humane literature,
most of which confines itself to discussion
only of illegal violence.
Legislative hearings were held in
March on a Nevada bill to mandate psychological
evaluation of children charged with either
animal abuse or gun-related offenses, and a
Florida bill to require social workers and animal
control officers to cross-report suspected
animal or child abuse.
The Florida bill, supported by state
child welfare secretary Kathleen Kearney, on
March 23 cleared the state house Affairs &
Long-Term Care Committee.
In Iowa, however, state representatives
Mary Mascher (D-Iowa City) and Teresa
Garman (R-Ames) fought to kill a bill which
would have created a felony class of animal
abuse, punishable by five years in prison.
Iowa does not permit felony prosecution
for wife-beating or child abuse,
Mascher claimed, adding ““I have a philosophical
problem with having more stringent
penalties for beating your cat and dog than for
beating your wife and child.”
But the Iowa legislature in 1998
passed a bill permitting a 10-year prison term
for branding stolen cattle.
Garman said she fought the felony
cruelty bill ito insure that farmers wouldn’t be
prosecuted for beating runt pigs to death.
Virginia governor Jim Gilmore, featured
in recent NRA magazine ads, meanwhile
vocally lobbied in early April for legislation
to let students take hunting weapons to
school, and settled for a bill that allowed
county school districts to set their own gun
policies––possibly flouting the federal GunFree