Meat & human murder
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2002:
ANTWERP, Belgium–More than 200 witnesses are expected to
testify in the anticipated seven-week trial of four men for the
February 1995 murder of Belgian veterinary inspector Karel Van
Noppen, shot multiple times in his car while investigating illegal
traffic in clenbuterol, a banned steroid used to promote livestock
growth. The trial began in Antwerp on April 14, 2002.
Van Noppen was believed to have been the victim of a “hit” by
the so-called “hormone mafia.” He was seeking indictment of cattle
breeder Alex Vercauteren at the time of his murder, but police were
unable to build a case against Vercauteren, now facing charges,
until an unidentified informant fingered arms dealer Carl De Schutter
and traveling fair worker Albert Barraz, who reportedly became
acquainted while serving prison time together. Apprehended in France
in 1996, De Schutter named Vercauteren and livestock dealer Germain
While assembling the evidence, police raided 82 Belgian
veterinary facilities, gathering documentation linking the Belgian
and Dutch clenbuterol traffic to the widespread illegal use of
clenbuterol in Ireland and the U.S.–where raids on veal feed
distributors and veal production facilities allegedly using
clenbuterol had already been quietly underway since early 1994.
Pressured to prosecute by the Humane Farming Association,
the U.S. Justice Department won a series of convictions of veal
industry leaders, all of whom were closely associated, personally
and professionally, with Aat Groenvelt, the Dutch immigrant who in
1962 founded the Provimi veal empire, introduced the practice of
immobilizing calves in veal crates to North America, and also
developed the market for “milk-fed spring lamb,” a euphemism for
lambs raised in close confinement like veal calves.
Misuse of clenbuterol had already surfaced on the livestock
show circuit. Between 1993 and 1995, at least 18 award winners at
six of the most prestigious livestock shows in the U.S. were caught
illegally using clenbuterol.
The use of illegal drugs in the meat industry is now
well-known, as is the frequent incidence of animal abuse in the
backgrounds of killers of humans. The Van Noppen case is among the
first, however, to directly link routine meat practices with murder
in mainstream reportage.
Yet examples of meat workers committing murder, often using
their workplace skills, are quite common.
In recent high-profile cases:
* One-armed Egyptian immigrant butcher John Ghobrial, 31,
on April 10, 2002 drew the death penalty from Superior Court Judge
John J. Ryan in Orange County, California, for the 1998 molestation
and dismemberment murder of Juan Delgado, 12.
* Slaughterhouse worker Katherine Knight, 46, on November
8, 2001 became the first woman in Australia to receive a life prison
sentence. Knight was convicted of stabbing, skinning, beheading,
and cooking parts of John Charles Price, her estranged companion of
six years, who had sought an order of protection against her.
Knight had terrorized a previous ex-partner by killing his puppy in
front of him.
* Former Pilgrim’s Pride chicken-killer Danny Kay Taylor,
41, escaped a possible death sentence in Las Vegas in October 2001
by plea-bargaining a five-years-to-life term for the 1991 murder of
his ex-girlfriend Cheryl DiSantis. DiSantis had accused Taylor of
molesting her four-year-old daughter.
* Czech immigrant butcher Vaclav Plch, 40, was convicted
in Manchester, New Hampshire, in November 2000 of the dismemberment
murder of Mary Stetson, 40.
* Stuart Alexander, 41, owner of the Santos Linguisa
Factory in San Leandro, California, is awaiting trial for the June
2000 gun rampage murders of USDA inspectors Jean Hillery, 56, and
Tom Quadros, 52, and California Department of Food and Agriculture
inspector Bill Shaline, 57, and attempted murder of Shaline’s
inspection partner, Earl Willis, 51.