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March 20, 2010 / Brooklyn news / Park Slope / Meadows of Shame

Who is the Butcher of Prospect Park?

The Brooklyn Paper
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Someone is murdering animals in Prospect Park — and the death count is rising.

Thus far, his identity remains a mystery — but he has left pieces of his victims scattered about the lakefront in Prospect Park like a demented Johnny Appleseed. At every turn, it seems park-goers are coming across more chicken heads and piles of assorted intestines.

It’s disgusting, disquieting and disturbing.

Days after The Brooklyn Paper broke the mysterious story of a bloody chopping block, smashed turtle shells, and an arson, Bonita Makuch came upon the Butcher’s most brazen — and horrifying — deed: entrails piled high on the rocks, animal guts fallen into the water, pieces of viscera peeking out like fleshy glaciers.

A chicken’s carcass floated nearby.

“It was quite repulsive,” said Makuch, who was unsure if the greasy tripe belonged only to chickens. “With a pile that big, it seems to me you’d have to do a lot of killing to get that many guts.”

That same day, Anne-Katrin Titze and Ed Bahlman — de facto Prospect Park watchdogs — discovered a disembodied chicken head on their daily walk.

“The chicken’s neck was stretched out facing the lake on the rocks — the head was in the water. No feathers, just flesh,” Bahlman said. “A swan ended up knocking the head into the lake.”

Nearby, Bahlman found a large box with two latex gloves inside. Beside the box were chicken feathers strewn about the banks of the lake.

After that first fateful encounter with murder most fowl, the couples’ daily perambulations became veritable horror shows. At several spots along the lake chicken heads were bobbing at the lake’s surface.

On Tuesday, Titze poked the lakebed near Prospect Park Southwest with a stick, trying to remove the dangerous viscera. As she jabbed the murky water, chicken heads kept popping up, eventually forming a gruesome clump of feathers and flesh.

In one single spot, at least eight chicken heads were visible, and that’s not counting the intestines and chicken feet.

Susan Yuen, who came upon a similar revolting crime scene in the same area last week, also saw the pile of intestines and immediately alerted park officials. A park employee — who would not give his name — quickly cleaned up the mess, pulling two chicken carcasses out of the water and throwing it all in a trash bag.

“It was so gross,” said Yuen, who snapped photos of the grisly scene. “I saw a chicken head, it started to smell as he pulled it all out of the water!”

Unfortunately, the park employee didn’t get all the gore, as much of it was not visible. In recent days the guts have surfaced or become entangled in other shrubs and trash as it decomposes. Eugene Patron, a spokesman for the park, said staff would clean up the area further, and suggested that people call 311 if they spot more gruesome meat left behind by the butcher.

Bob Ipcar, a member of the dog advocacy group FIDO, noticed the nasty scene and said that dog owners should also be concerned about the mysterious wave of poultry mutilations.

“Your dog wants to drink the water [in the lake], and it’s dangerous,” Ipcar said. “Everybody wants to feed the ducks, and there are chicken heads floating around. They need to come and rake this stuff out.”

Park officials remain baffled.

“Maybe [the intestines] could be left over from a voodoo or Santeria ritual?” Patron speculated.

He may be onto something. Santeria gross-outs are not uncommon in the area. Just last year, a pig’s head was left along the fence of Green-wood Cemetery, perhaps as a gift to the gods. Also, 15 cow tongues were nailed to trees in the park last year — another incident thought to have been related to the often-vilified religion.

Ritual or not, some wished the park would take the wave of incidents more seriously and treat them as legitimate crimes deserving of an investigation.

“How can the park investigate these incidents when they remove the evidence and don’t even call the police?” asked Titze.

Bahlman, after doing some investigating of his own, determined that the slaughter must have occurred beyond the confines of the park.

“This is planted there — there was no blood, unlike last time,” said Bahlman. “Now, they’re dumping dead animals in the park. I do not believe this was a sacrifice.”

And Bahlman may be right. Later visits to the scene of the crime on Monday revealed that a veritable flock of butchered chickens had been discarded in the lake. The mysterious butcher had also used a spot across from the wellhouse as another dumping grounds.

“There was the Superfund for the Gowanus Canal,” Bahlman joked. “This is going in that direction!”

But in a more serious moment, Bahlman considered the multi-million-dollar renovation going on across the lake.

“They’re calling all this attention to the Lakeside project,” he said. “Meanwhile, they’re basically letting the lake die. … A large area is being used as a dump.”

Bahlman pointed to a nearby dead opossum and turtle as evidence that the lake had been possibly poisoned. He also nervously noted that the swans and geese that usually flock to the shore to receive their daily feedings of corn and bread were now staying away.

“Look at them!” Bahlman said, pointing at his beloved waterfowl. “They’re afraid. They know something is wrong. They’ve seen so much.”

But officials said that the park’s hands are tied, much like the feet of a chicken before it meets its demise.

“Unless someone catches someone in the act of either abusing an animal or littering — which this gory stuff is — there is little we can do,” Patron said.

Updated 5:17 pm, July 9, 2018: An earlier version had Bob Ipcar's title wrong. Sorry, Bob.
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Reasonable discourse

Colin from Windsor Terrace says:
This clearly does NOT resemble a ritualistic act performed at the lake.

The lack of blood, and the placement of the remains, looks as if it is waste from a slaughterhouse/butcher hurriedly dumped into the lake. The image indicates that the intestines are from a creature or creatures larger than a chicken.

The decaying exposed flesh left out in the open, is a health hazard on the stoned bank. The rotting carcasses in the water are a pollutant of the lake. This an Environmental Protection Agency issue and should be reported as such by the park personnel.

Illegal dumping of this kind, is a danger to all who visit the lake, especially children with their families.
March 20, 2010, 11:25 am
Sheila from PLG says:
The other day I was at the Whitney Museum and personnel made certain that I stayed two feet away from each work of art. Yesterday I was in the park and I observed one man trying to catch a turtle, two men fishing in a restricted area with coolers to keep their catch, one fisherman in the protective grass where the ducks go to lay their eggs, litter everywhere, diapers tossed, a dead squirrel which looked like it had been attacked by a dog, kids pulling off limbs and using them as swords - and not a single park employee - not one. Sigh. When will the park be treated like the piece of beauty that it is? When will each of its elements be treated as priceless works of art?
March 21, 2010, 7:06 am
LuLu from PLG says:
Why does it take until the afternoon to clean up such a disgusting mess like animal guts? Where are the park people? Who do I contact when I see some one trying to catch (poach) turtles? I think the park gets enough money to deal with these issues. They are doing a multi million dollar renovation by the skating rink.
March 21, 2010, 4:53 pm
Not Goish from Prospect Heights says:
Are the MIH Ventures "professionals" at it again?
March 21, 2010, 6:10 pm
Robert from Park Slope says:
Prospect Park Lake is in need of protection. The park hierarchy is allowing the destruction to occur right in front of our children's eyes.
The arrogance to promote a "Lakeside Project" to the press, while at the same time try to minimize the crimes being committed, is appallingly careless.
Please get your priorities straight.

The lake environment as wildlife habitat has been severely compromised.
March 22, 2010, 10 am
James from Prospect Heights says:
I was in Prospect Park on Sunday, March 22, 2010.
It had the feel of an abandonned empty lot as I came towards the lake from the west.
Garbage everywhere blowing in the wind. Some of it landing in the lake, never to be heard from again.
It appears that there was an extensive recent fire at the southwestern edge. This rather large patch of burnt out reeds and uncollected trash is a blight.
I can draw no other conclusion from what I have seen for myself and that is, the park is in a downward spiral.
March 22, 2010, 10:50 am
CARL from WINDSOR TERRACE says:
What James came upon at the lake, was a fire set 10 days ago, on a Thursday.
That's right - 10 days ago.
If this location were left in the same condition on a city street, the powers-that-be would fine the owners and forced them to clean up the debris. No excuses would be tolerated.
March 22, 2010, 11:18 am
Steve from Windsor Terrace says:
I visited the burned out section this morning, and the trash and debris is still there. Granted that the Parks Department staff has been very busy for the past week trimming and cleaning up all the blown-down trees, - it would take a crew of 3-4 people about 1 hour to pick up the trash in this area. Can the Prospect Park Alliance send out a group of volunteers to do it this week?

The new growth of reeds is starting to break through the ground, and now would be a good time for a cleanup.
March 22, 2010, 11:57 am
Ron from Kensington says:
Steve is right.
The park ignores what it can. The general concern for the public is very low and they act like everything is a burden for them.
Why should we have to beg for common sense to prevail.
Trash is not a priority around the lake at any time.
The fire exposes a policy of institutionalized neglect.
March 22, 2010, 12:13 pm
Rick from Windsor Terrace says:
We can't wait until someone is caught in the act. The police should be called, the evidence examined and the criminal(s) pursued.
March 22, 2010, 1:38 pm
Eva from Park Slope says:
You dont have anything else to write about. Im sure this sort of thing goes on all the time, perhaps you should write about health care instead of the normal stuff you churn out and please no more pictures of the Borough President, there was 18 pictures in the local paper last week where can I get a job opening supermarkets and celebrating ten years of Bar keeping. Perhaps one day we will all wake up and smell the roses.
March 22, 2010, 2:01 pm
David from PLG says:
The writer, Stephen Brown should avoid mischaracterizations and generalizations based in ignorance. It is one thing to provide a factual account of the incident. You may even offer some responsible speculation. However, your limited understanding of traditions related to not one group of people should not color your reporting. Your ignorance is an even more reprehensible weapon that anything that you tried to articulate in this article.
March 22, 2010, 2:22 pm
Janet from Windsor Terrace says:
To Stephen Brown: I'm sure that you have spell check, but you used the wrong spelling of "peaking" out. "pieces of viscera were peaking out like fleshy glaciers." It should be "peeking" out.
March 22, 2010, 2:26 pm
Sheila from PLG says:
To David from PLG - perhaps you care to share your knowledge rather than spew your anger. This is important reporting, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, more important than the care and our relationship to our physical environment. N O T H I N G.
March 22, 2010, 4:21 pm
Pat K from Bay Ridge says:
I grew up near the yard all seasons.Park it was and still is my backyard for all seasons. I have helped do cleanups in the past but after last years heavy use I think we are going to see Round 11. I hope now. I;m not sure if Tupper Thomas is in charge but she and many dedicated people were responsible for getting. it back in shape

Something seems to be missing from this crew and I hope they can get it straight again.
March 22, 2010, 10:28 pm
Jess from WT says:
All who care should inundate 311 with complaints about the filthy conditions and crimes against nature at the lakeside. Get a log # from 311. Follow up. Call the mayor's office and ask for them to make it a priority. Take back the park!
March 23, 2010, 12:13 am
Richie rich from parkslope says:
As per my previous commment, the park rangers are not doing a good job patrolling the park. What the heck are they doing all day?
March 23, 2010, 8:54 am
Prospect from Park says:
Due to the lack of adherence to ritual, an alternative explanation would be that there is a sociopath growing up somewhere near the park. These people often start by mutilating animals, then graduate to hurting humans. Might be a good idea for the city to find out who's doing this so they can help this person while s/he's young.
March 23, 2010, 9:58 am
Jen Jie from South Slope says:
Prospect Park is a jewel for the diverse neighborhoods that surround it and indeed all of Brooklyn. What we do to protect this treasure says more about us as citizens than whatever armchair commentary we can make about national politics. A small group of people can make a big difference on local issues. Everyone, please call 311, call the mayor's office, contact your local community board, make complaints & follow up!
March 23, 2010, 10:22 am
Deb from Ditmas says:
How about a little more security in the area? There seems to be absolutely no police presence at night.
March 23, 2010, 2:46 pm
Mark S. from Park Slope says:
Who is Mr. Patron speaking for when he utters incoherent and uninformed statements to the press?

What is happening at Prospect Park Lake are crimes against the environment. No one is being held responsible for the incredibly poor policy decisions being made by NYC Parks and Recreation.

When you seek help, all you get is tired rhetoric.
March 24, 2010, 8:58 am
David from Windsor Terrace says:
My family and I were in the park on Sunday.
Prospect Park has to be the worst maintained public area in Brooklyn.
The criticisms and concerns in your article were right there for anyone to see.
Except for those who work for the park.
March 24, 2010, 9:08 am
luvdogs from Manhattan says:
So much for my family considering a move to Brooklyn.

The notion that the Parks Dept's hands are tied unless someone is caught in the act is ridiculous. A box was left at the scene! Has anyone heard of DNA-testing? This person may well have a criminal record!
March 24, 2010, 10:03 am
BIrdsfriend from Park Slope says:
From butchering an animal to butchering a child is a very thin line to cross for a sadist. Come on people, somebody had to see something!
March 26, 2010, 1:59 pm
Bridsfriend from Park Slope says:
From butchering an animal to butchering a child is a thin line to cross for a sadist. Come on people, somebody had to see something!
March 26, 2010, 2:02 pm
J from WT says:
All who care should call the TV help programs - Help Me Howard, 7 On Your Side, etc. This is a sick, disturbing, ongoing condition and it must not be permitted to continue.
March 27, 2010, 11:20 am
Prospector from Prospect Park says:
Welcome to the Third World, everyone!

If it ain't VooDoo/Santeria leftovers, or the dumpings of a Latino 'live chickens' slaughterhouse, its the act of some freak in the ghetto. Here's to 'Diversity'.

Great Job!
March 27, 2010, 6:49 pm
caligirl from highland lakes,nj says:
i'm sure that there are plenty of people in this area who owe community service hours that could be put to use. the few people who mentioned "serial killer" hit the nail on the head. almost all start out by killing and torturing small animals, move onto larger animals, then eventually to humans. good luck to you all down there. reading this article just makes me that much more appreciative of living in vernon/highland lakes,nj and santa cruz,ca which are both beautiful (though santa cruz and california in general are notorious for serial killers.) if you want to see a beautiful place google santa cruz,ca. oh, by the way this is worthy news
March 27, 2010, 8:42 pm
Lourdes V. from NYC says:
Somebody has to place cameras around the lakefront so they can catch whomever is doing this to the animals, what kind of horrible beast would do this? No one deserves to be treated like these poor animals have, no one.
March 28, 2010, 1:17 am
STC says:
Your tone in this piece is INEXCUSABLE. It is a proven fact that people who torture animals are likely to become serial killers of humans. As a writers, you are irresponsible. Your "essay" is disgusting. I hope it was worth it to you for a little humor. Meanwhile, reality check: you're not even that funny. Moron.
March 28, 2010, 8:55 am
idk from chickenland says:
This sounds more like the offal from an illegal garage butcher shop than anything satanic. Chickens, possibly goat entrails, that sort of thing?

They busted some people from the Dominican Republic near my sister's neighborhood who were doing the same thing in California and dumping the offal in a local canyon.
March 28, 2010, 10:34 am
grizzgroid from parkslope says:
I get the butcher/offal thing..but why would a butcher shop crush turtle shells?
I think this is probably some mental patient doing what they think of as a "ritual"

and yes..can we get one undercover cop to stake out the lake? next time that fire will spread further.
March 28, 2010, 2:21 pm
Phil from Ohil says:
Glad I don't live in that state.
This person may be practicing and people may be next!
March 29, 2010, 2:14 am
Anthony Weir from St-Antonin says:
Perhaps now the denizens of Brooklyn will realise just a TINY bit what a chicken (or pig or bullock) murder factory is like. A few thousand more of each have died as you read this.
March 29, 2010, 3:21 pm
Matthew from Cobble Hill says:
There's not enough police presence in the park. And PEP, the parks enforcement patrols, are rarer than red-head woodpeckers. I'm surprised all the off-leash dogs hadn't eaten the viscera before it was found.
March 30, 2010, 1:46 pm
UncleJohn from Idaho says:
Why does the article assume it's a 'he?'

It is not a proven fact that people who torture animals become serial killers. There's a mild correlation between being a serial killer and torturing animals as a kid, but that does not mean one causes the other.

All serial killers also wore shoes, does that then mean that all people who wear shoes will become serial killers?
March 30, 2010, 7:33 pm
Rocky Raccoon from NYC says:
What we really need are night shift NYC Park Rangers on duty in all of the parks here. The NYC Park Rangers go home at 5:00PM and there are no park rangers on duty when we need them most. Hire night shift NYC Park Rangers!
April 3, 2010, 5:06 pm
John the fisherman from Brooklyn says:
There is a story in headlines about homeless people catching and eating wildlife at the park. These remains could be the waste from them slaughtering wildlife to eat. Most of the anglers obey all rules and regulations set forth by the Park officials. We have a problem with some people taking fish from the lake. Not the anglers are trying to protect the right to fish there. I really hope this months effort to catch the poachers helps protect us who enjoy fishing and the gift it is.
July 31, 2011, 5:50 pm

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