A 16-year-old Delhi boy has been arrested for animal cruelty for the brutal torture and death of a pig from the Delhi High School FFA farm, said Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke.
The pig was found Sunday morning by a student who had come to the farm to feed her own animal. The pig, which was approximately 125 pounds, had been hung by a rope in the tree, set on fire and stabbed. Another pig was found in an enclosure that had a 1-inch stab wound to its shank.
“I couldn’t believe it when I first heard about it,” Warnke said. “I’m partial to animals. I believe the Lord put people on Earth to be the caretakers to domestic animals and it infuriates me that this could be done to one of them. This was just plain mean.”
The pig was slated to be donated to a student to raise as an FFA project, said Will Snyder, the agriculture teacher at Delhi High School.
The discovery was reported to the sheriff’s department and the school district administration, though staff at the school did not learn about it until early Thursday morning in an email, according to one teacher, who asked not to be named. The teacher said staff was hearing about the incident from other students who had seen and shared pictures and video of the attack on social media.
Social media ended up being a vital lead for School Resource Officer Deputy Jesse Aguilar, as he was able to use it to identify the 16-year-old suspect, Warnke said.
“When he told me of the arrest, he said, ‘Boss, the students of the school are the heroes of this,’” Warnke said. “Apparently, they really came together and helped the deputy find the perpetrator.”
The 16-year-old confessed to the torture and killing of the pig and told authorities he acted alone, which is a claim Warnke doesn’t quite believe.
“My spidey sense tells me that is not the truth,” Warnke said. “If there are others that helped, it would be better for them to turn themselves in because if we go through this whole investigation and then arrest them, I will see that they are prosecuted to the fullest extent.”
Snyder said he saw some of the images that had been shared on social media and described them as “brutally graphic.”
The pen the pigs were kept in is on the school campus, about 200 yards from the sports fields.
The 16-year-old was arrested on suspicion of felony animal cruelty. He also was on probation for burglary. The Merced County District Attorney’s Office will decide if the teenager is charged as an adult or not.
“We believe this was an isolated incident, but I would like to know the psychological factors behind this,” Warnke said. “I don’t want to release a potential predator back into the community who could do this to an animal because he might decide to build upon the thrill.”