Two teen brothers accused of killing 18 racing pigeons in Shady Hills

January 12th, 2011 by Staff

SHADY HILLS — The racing pigeons didn’t die easily after the boys stabbed them and slit their throats, authorities say, so they cut off their heads with a broken knife and threw the bodies in a trash can.

The brothers — one is 13 and the other turns 15 today — broke into their neighbor’s coop and killed 18 of his racing pigeons, Pasco sheriff’s deputies said.

The older boy stabbed and killed a few pigeons by himself Friday night while the 65-year-old neighbor and his wife were in South Carolina for the weekend attending a racing pigeon conference, a report states. The the older boy brought his brother with him Saturday night and the slaughter continued.

The neighbor discovered the dead birds when he came home Sunday.

The boys were arrested Monday and charged with burglary and cruelty to animals. The Times is withholding their names because of their age. The youngest is an eighth-grader at Crews Lake Middle School. The eldest is a freshman at Hudson High School. They live with their grandparents, whose back yard borders the victim’s.

The boys told deputies they didn’t know why they did it, according to a report.

“The whole neighborhood feels bad about it,” said Cleon Cox, 79, a neighbor and friend of the victim who also raises racing pigeons.

There are pigeon coops behind most houses on Verndale Lane, site of the slaughter. Northwestern Pasco County has become one of the top destinations in the United States for people who raise and train homing pigeons.

The victim is a director for the American Racing Pigeon Union. He did not want to comment for this story. Friends who answered his door Tuesday said they are all devastated and did not want to comment.

The boys’ grandparents also declined to be interviewed.

The pigeons that were killed were worth $15,000, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Cox said owners form emotional bonds with their pigeons, which can live up to 20 years. The birds are trained to fly hundreds of miles and return to their owners. Cox said some of the victim’s “best and most important pigeons” were killed.

“It’s unfortunate,” he said.

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