Smart investigation should have looked at histories of animal abuse

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2003:

SALT LAKE CITY–Karen Dawn of Pacific
Palisades, California, was not surprised to
read in the March 24 edition of Newsweek that
accused kidnapper and rapist David Brian Mitchell
had a history of cruelty to animals. As an
active distributor of online action alerts, via
<>, Dawn long since became
familiar with the frequent association of
violence toward animals with violence toward
humans–especially women and children.
Dawn was surprised, however, that the
linkage involving Mitchell seemed to be so little
remarked by news media–and unrecognized by the
Salt Lake City police.

Mitchell, 49, and his wife, Wanda E.
Barzee, 57, are charged with kidnapping
Elizabeth Smart, 14, from her Salt Lake City
bedroom on June 5, 2002, raping her, holding
her prisoner until their capture on March 12,
2003, and attempting to kidnap Smart’s
18-year-old cousin.
Newsweek quoted Mitchell’s stepson, Mark
Thompson, who had suspected Mitchell for some
time and helped to bring him to justice.
“He shot our dog in front of us. He
killed our bunny and made us eat it,” Mitchell
Doing an electronic search of 650
articles published in major news media about the
Mitchell arrest, Dawn found that the March 31
edition of People reported that Mitchell killed
his step-daughter LouRee Gayler’s pet rabbit
Peaches and served it to her for dinner.
“He said it was chicken. The next day I
realized my rabbit was gone,” Gayler said.
Mitchell allegedly molested Gayler from age 8 to
age 12, when her mother finally left him.
“I found that the animal cruelty
incidents were first mentioned by KSTU-TV
reporter Scott McKane on March 13,” Dawn told
her <DawnWatch> audience. “Gayler was on
ABC’s Prime Time Live the same night and
mentioned the rabbit. Gayler brought up both
incidents on CBS News, as did Thompson on Larry
King Live, each on March 14.
“However,” Dawn continued, “only four
other news media mentioned the animal cruelty:
The Washington Times, The Guardian of London,
the Saskatoon Star Phoenix, and Long Island
“If consciousness of the link between
cruelty to animals and cruelty to humans was more
entrenched in our culture, things might have
turned out quite differently for Elizabeth
Smart,” Dawn opined. “Animal cruelty would be a
felony in every state. The killing of two family
companion animals would not have gone unreported.
David Brian Mitchell would have had a felony
record. Police would have known, upon the
disappearance of a child, not to just wade
through the long list of transients who had
worked in the Smart household, but to search
first for any with a record of cruelty to animals.
“In a better informed world,” Dawn said,
“Richard Albert Ricci, the longtime primary
police chief suspect, who had a history of
burglary and theft, would have seemed a much
less likely kidnapper than David Brian Mitchell,”
whose record of intimidating and coercive
behavior seemed in hindsight so obvious that it
should have given him away from the beginning.

Rural norms

The catch in Dawn’s scenario is that the
cruel acts toward animals that Mitchell allegedly
committed were so close to rural norms that they
are not even recognized yet as cruelty in many
states, by many police, and by much of the
public. Thousands of people still believe that
it is appropriate to shoot a dog who misbehaves;
thousands still raise and kill rabbits for their
tables; tens of thousands still encourage their
children to make pets of animals raised as part
of 4-H Club activities, the culminating lesson
of which is the heartbreak of being compelled by
4-H rules to sell the beloved animals for
slaughter. The entire exercise is designed to
teach would-be farmers to avoid developing an
emotional attachment to their livestock.
Even where police and news media have
begun to recognize criminal cruelty to animals as
a frequent precursor to rape, murder, and other
violent crimes against humans, there is a
prevailing cultural reluctance to recognize legal
violence done to animals as having essentially
the same predictive relationship to violent abuse
of humans.
Hard data demonstrating the likelihood
that legal violence toward animals is associated
with violent crimes against humans began to
surface in 1977 when Yale University researcher
Stephen Kellert identified a “dominionistic”
attitude toward animals held to a significantly
greater degree by hunters, trappers, and rodeo
and bullfight fans, the characteristics of
which, Kellert wrote–but later denied–are that
the individual’s “primary satisfactions [are] derived from mastery and control over animals.”
The desire for mastery and control were
already well-recognized leading characteristics
of sadists and pedophiles. As a hunter,
however, Kellert has argued ever since that the
dominionism he found among fellow hunters and
others who harm animals or watch harm to animals
for amusement has no relationship to the behavior
of criminals.
Even major humane groups with nationally
prominent campaigns publicizing the associations
of illegal animal abuse with violent crimes
against humans have tiptoed around the 1994-1995
ANIMAL PEOPLE finding that rates of convicted
pedophilia and child abuse closely parallel the
rates of hunting participation at the county
level in the states of New York, Ohio, and
Yet cases illustrating the linkage of
hunting with dominionistic crimes against humans
occur almost every day. Typically an avid hunter
kills a wife or girlfriend who is attempting to
end an abusive relationship.
Such a hunter was Barry Tkachik of Otis,
Indiana, who on February 18 fatally shot his
wife, Michelle Tkachik, 39, and her sister,
Jean Dakin, 38, then committed suicide during a
standoff with the LaPorte County Sheriff’s
“I never expected this,” said neighbor
Denver Gabbard. “I thought he was a family man
who liked to fish and hunt.”
But Sandy Peters, another neighbor, was
aware of “The Link,” as it is commonly called
among animal advocates, and had seen it in
“A puppy was shot there last week,”
Peters told Laporte Herald-Argus staff writer
Colleen Mair. “He was a volatile man who liked
to shoot things. He once shot the dog I gave him
with a BB gun and then a bow-and-arrow. I took
the dog back.”
LaPorte County Sheriff Jim Arnold
confirmed that deputies had paid repeated calls
to Tkachik in response to domestic disturbances
and animal-related complaints.
“The last incident was on January 3 when
Tkachik was arrested for domestic violence,”
Mair wrote.

Treating women like pigs

Instances of farmers treating humans like
livestock evoke even more intensive denial–as
PETA learned in November 2002 after attempting to
place advertisements pointing out the
relationship between what accused serial killer
Robert William Pickton did for fun and what he
did for a living. Pickton, 52, of Port
Coquitlam, British Columbia, was a pig farmer,
in partnership with his brother David. Pickton
also owned and operated a local nightclub called
Piggy’s Palace.
The Vancouver Sun and Vancouver Province
both refused the PETA ad because they believed it
might offend meat-eating readers and the families
of Pickton’s victims.
Pickton was arrested in February 2002 in
connection with the disappearance of as many as
63 Vancouver-area women since 1983, after Royal
Canadian Mounted Police investigating a report
that he possessed an unlicensed shotgun stumbled
across identification cards belonging to some of
the missing women. Vancouver police had informed
the RCMP in 1998 that Pickton might be a suspect,
a year after he was charged with attempted murder
when a woman named Wendy Lynn Eistetter escaped
from him. Pickton beat the rap by claiming she
had tried to rob him.
Three private investigators also fingered
Pickton in 1998, but the RCMP decided that among
200 potential suspects, a pig farmer did not
seem to them likely to be a serial killer. More
women disappeared. Fragmentary remains of 18
victims have been identified, primarily by DNA
traces. Pickton has been charged with killing 15
of them.
The remains are so few because, the
investigators now believe, Pickton handled the
women exactly as pig farmers often handle dead
pigs: he ran their remains through a wood
chipper, then mixed the pieces into the live
pigs’ feed.
While the Pickton investigators sifted
tons of manure-saturated soil to find bone
splinters, a 1955 serial-killing-by-farmer
resurfaced in Cook County, Illinois. Former
horse breeder and stable owner Kenneth Hansen,
69, drew 200 to 300 years in prison after his
second conviction for the kidnap/murders of three
adolescent boys, at least one of whom he
allegedly raped. Hansen was not charged with the
crimes until 1994, when he was also identified
by police as a suspect or possible material
witness in the murders of four young women and a
sheriff’s deputy–and possibly the 1967 beating
death of a stablehand. The evidence against
Hansen emerged from an investigation of an
associate, Richard Bailey, who was eventually
convicted of the 1977 murder of heiress Helen
Vorhees Brach. Hansen and Bailey were also key
figures in a long string of horse killings to
collect insurance money. Twenty-five horse
owners were convicted of participating.
Another agrarian, of sorts, drew 20
years in prison on December 5 for for trying to
fly £22 million worth of cocaine into Britain.
Christopher Barrett-Jolly, 54, and his co-pilot
and brother-in-law Peter Carine, 50, were
sentenced at the Basildon Crown court in Essex.
Barrett-Jolly “achieved notoriety in 1994
as director of Phoenix Aviation, which
specialized in the export of live calves for
veal,” London Independent crime correspondent
Jason Bennetto recalled. Barrett-Jolly’s
activities attracted demonstrations by animal
rights activists. “At the height of the
protests,” Bennetto continued, “activist Jill
Phipps was run over and killed by a lorry
delivering calves to the airport. In 1996,
Phoenix Aviation went into liquidation.”
But Barrett-Jolly apparently developed
his disregard for the lives and well-being of
other creatures well before his involvement in
the veal industry.
‘In 1974,” continued Bennetto, “he
admitted being involved in arms dealing for 20

“Normal” link killers

In recent “Link” cases involving illegal animal abuse:
* Michael Allen West, 33, was
convicted on February 2 in Bend, Oregon, of six
counts of attempted murder, 56 counts of illegal
use of a weapon, 42 counts of illegal
manufacture of a destructive device, one count
of possession of a concealed weapon, and one
count of animal abuse, for shooting a neighbor’s
dog in March 2002 and then preparing to stand off
sheriff’s deputies who sought to confiscate the
weapon. West had outfitted three bunkers inside
his house with an arsenal of 56 loaded weapons,
including several assault rifles and a machine
* Bill P. Marquardt, 27, was
convicted on February 3 in Eau Claire,
Wisconsin, of seven felony counts of cruelty to
animals, two counts of being a felon in
possession of a firearm, and one count of
burglary, for shooting dogs and rabbits at his
own home and breaking into a neighbor’s home,
where he shot a dog. Marquardt is now awaiting
trial in Chippewa County for allegedly shooting
and stabbing his mother to death in March 2000.
* Jonathon Lee Stephens, 18, is
awaiting trial in San Bernardino County,
California, for allegedly beating to death
Christy McKendall, 16, raping her corpse, and
throwing her remains into a well. Alleged
accomplice Joshua Curnette, 15, is also
awaiting trial, while a second alleged
accomplice, Luke Miller, 14, is serving a
three-year sentence as an accessory after the
fact. Police say Curnette and Miller introduced
Stephens to the victim. Stephens was known
around their neighborhood for killing squirrels,
cats, and dogs, beating up children and a
homeless man, attacking his sister with a knife
at age 13, and sexually assaulting a 12-year-old
girl. Police reportedly videotaped Stephens and
his alleged accomplices as they re-enacted the
McKendall murder during interrogation.
* Pablo Francisco Hernandez, 19, is
awaiting trial in San Jose, California, for
allegedly cutting the heads off a bird and a dog,
then decapitating his mother, 38, and calling
911 to confess.

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