Authorities perplexed by discovery of decapitated goats

  • This goat, fortunately, has kept its head. But authorities around Cook County -- including in Arlington Heights -- are trying to figure out what's happening with the recent discovery of at least six decapitated goats in what some suspect are part of a religious ritual.

      This goat, fortunately, has kept its head. But authorities around Cook County -- including in Arlington Heights -- are trying to figure out what's happening with the recent discovery of at least six decapitated goats in what some suspect are part of a religious ritual. Daniel White | Staff Photographer, 2013

 
Posted12/16/2016 5:33 AM

Was it a strange religious ritual? A bizarre case of littering? A Cubs fan's twisted celebration of breaking a 108-year-old curse?

Arlington Heights police aren't quite sure what to make of the discovery of a decapitated goat carcass -- its head sitting nearby -- in a grocery store parking lot late last month.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Police were called to the Jewel-Osco parking lot at 440 E. Rand Road the evening of Nov. 25 -- yes, Black Friday -- after an employee spotted the dead animal. There was nothing around the goat to indicate it was the guest of honor in an occult ceremony, or to hint at what happened to it or why it was left outside a busy shopping center.

"It just looked like someone had dumped it there," Cmdr. Richard Sperando told us.

Because there were no witnesses or surveillance video, police have little to go on.

Wait, there's more

The Arlington Heights goat wasn't the only gory animal-related find in the area recently.

On Dec. 2, five headless goats and two decapitated chickens were found just outside the LaBagh Woods forest preserve on the North Side of Chicago. And in June, a headless goat was discovered in Miller Meadows preserve near River Forest.

"Over the last several years there have been a handful of these cases," said Lambrini Lukidis, spokeswoman for the Cook County Forest Preserves. "We can't say if it's some kind of ritual sacrifice or something else, and don't know if (the animals) were killed in the forest preserves or just dumped there."

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The recent finds prompt speculation that the animals were sacrificed as part of a Santeria ceremony. Santeria is a religion that originated in Cuba and combines worship of Roman Catholic saints and West African deities. Its followers have been known to practice animal sacrifice as part of initiation and healing rituals.

For the record, animal sacrifice is illegal in Illinois.

McMahon on the move?

Kane County State's Attorney Joseph McMahon's name has surfaced as a potential candidate for U.S. attorney from Chicago, should the Trump administration decide to replace current officeholder Zachary Fardon. "I have great respect for what they do," McMahon said of the federal prosecutor's office.
  Kane County State's Attorney Joseph McMahon's name has surfaced as a potential candidate for U.S. attorney from Chicago, should the Trump administration decide to replace current officeholder Zachary Fardon. "I have great respect for what they do," McMahon said of the federal prosecutor's office. - Brian Hill | Staff Photographer, 2013

Could Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon be in line for a role in the Trump administration?

McMahon's name has been floated -- along with that of DuPage County State's Attorney Bob Berlin -- as a possible choice for U.S. attorney from Chicago, should Republican leaders decide not to stick with the current officeholder, Zachary Fardon.

When asked about it this week, McMahon quickly stressed that the position is filled.

"I am honored to have my name attached to the U.S. attorney's office. I have great respect for what they do," he said, adding that he would welcome the opportunity to serve citizens across the state. "I respect (Fardon's) role and the work he's accomplished there."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

McMahon's profile has been on the rise in recent months. In August, he was sworn in as special prosecutor in the case of Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, charged with first-degree murder in the 2014 killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in Chicago.

An appointment as U.S. attorney would place McMahon, or Berlin, among the most powerful government officials in Illinois, responsible not only for prosecuting cases involving gangs and white-collar criminals but also political corruption.

Dogfighting in DuPage?

Is there a dogfighting ring in DuPage County? Maybe not. But the head of the Illinois State Crime Commission says suburban residents should protect their family pets from being stolen for use in training dogs that fight.
Is there a dogfighting ring in DuPage County? Maybe not. But the head of the Illinois State Crime Commission says suburban residents should protect their family pets from being stolen for use in training dogs that fight. - Associated Press, File

The Illinois State Crime Commission made a splash last week when it offered a $5,000 reward for information about dogfighting in DuPage County.

Executive Director Jerry Elsner later told us that while he's not actually aware of any dogfighting rings in DuPage, the agency stumbled upon known dogfighting promoters linked to underage prostitution activity in the county.

He also warns that dogfighting organizers may be stealing family pets from suburban backyards to be used as "bait dogs," animals that are essentially served up as sacrificial lambs to fighting dogs during their training.

To report suspicious activity, including social media posts, call Elsner at (630) 778-9191.

Hunting BB bandits

Arlington Heights police say they're still working hard to find who's responsible for a rash of BB gun vandalism that's left at least 40 vehicles damaged in the village. This surveillance photo shows a vehicle from which police say BB gun shots were fired Oct. 26.
Arlington Heights police say they're still working hard to find who's responsible for a rash of BB gun vandalism that's left at least 40 vehicles damaged in the village. This surveillance photo shows a vehicle from which police say BB gun shots were fired Oct. 26. - Courtesy of Arlington Heights Police Department

A rash of BB gun vandalism that left at least 40 vehicles damaged in Arlington Heights between Oct. 27 and Nov. 30 appears to be on the wane.

Police, however, say they're not slowing down their investigation into who's behind the crime spree.

"We're using every means we have available to get it under control and hopefully make an arrest," said Cmdr. Nathan Hayes.

Be generous and smart

It seems mean-spirited, but at this time of the year, you are smart to be extra Grinchy when someone is asking you to donate to a charity.

Con artists and other shady operators know that we are more prone to acting on emotions at this time of the year, so they tailor their efforts to prey on that, according to the Better Business Bureau.

• Slow down, and check the organization out. Sites such as give.org, charitynavigator.org and guidestar.org post financial information and ratings on charities. So does the BBB, and the Illinois attorney general's "Building Better Charities" page.

• Watch out for name similarities. Just because it has "American" and "cancer" in the name doesn't mean it is the American Cancer Society.

• Avoid on-the-spot donation decisions, especially if someone is pressing you. Nice, legitimate charities don't do that. Our advice? Just hang up or walk away.

Holiday spirit

Nice job by the Lake County sheriff's office and their supporters. On Saturday they packed a patrol car full of more than 125 donated toys as part of the annual "Stuff a Squad" drive at the Deer Park Town Center in Deer Park.

"Over 125 children will have the chance to open a Christmas present this year because of the community and Lake County sheriff's office coming together to help those in need," Undersheriff Ray Rose said.

• Got a tip? Have a question? Please email Charles Keeshan and Susan Sarkauskas at copsandcrime@dailyherald.com, or call our tip line at (847) 427-4483.

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