2 students charged in pet goat's slaying

March 11, 1995|By Tanya Jones and Suzanne Loudermilk | Tanya Jones and Suzanne Loudermilk,Sun Staff Writers Sun Staff writer Mike Farabaugh contributed to this article.

Two North Harford High School seniors accused in the slaying of a Jarrettsville family's pet goat were charged yesterday with animal cruelty, theft and malicious destruction of property.

The 17-year-old boys are two of three students who authorities believe were involved in the theft and death of the 9-year-old goat, which was found lying in a pond in a courtyard at the rear of the school Tuesday morning. The arrest of the third student is expected soon, said Sgt. Edward Hopkins, sheriff's office spokesman.

Initially, police said the crime was a school prank gone awry. But yesterday, Sergeant Hopkins seemed to back away from that. "You would have to question why would they take an ax along to steal a goat," he said.

One of the three boys, according to one of the student's parents and other sources, drove the other two in a pickup truck to the 5-acre homestead of Richard and Ellen Wischhusen in Jarrettsville Monday night, but was not present when the goat was killed. Later, he returned and drove the other two students with the carcass of the goat to another vehicle before returning home, the sources said.

The two students then drove the goat's body to the school on Route 165 near Bush's Corner and dumped it in the pond.

"He let the boys off to go steal the goat, and when he went back the goat was already dead," said the mother of one of the students. "He did not step on school property."

The incident was the main subject of conversation among students at the school yesterday.

"Most of them are repulsed by it, including myself," said Jason R. Lookingbill, 17, of Jarrettsville. He said two of the students involved were just "country boys" who expected to tie the goat to a tree in the courtyard.

Steve Sturgill, 17, a junior at the school, said, "They just did it just to do it."

The goat's owner, Ellen Wischhusen, said, "I don't necessarily want them charged [with the crime].

"They do need some form of punishment, maybe community service. . . . They need to know they were wrong."

Mrs. Wischhusen and her husband, Richard, called the Sheriff's Office on Monday night to report the goat missing after Mr. Wischhusen discovered that "the old goat," as they called her, was not in its stable on North Bend Road when he went to feed it at 10 p.m.

Mrs. Wischhusen said she received a phone call yesterday from Thomas P. Gibson, principal of the high school. He offered condolences from the staff and 1,022 students at the school.

"The students are appalled by it," Mr. Gibson said. "It is not reflective of the school. It was a senior prank that got out of hand -- and got negative."

The three students involved were suspended from school Wednesday, said Donald R. Morrison, Harford schools spokesman. They have been referred to Harford schools Superintendent Ray R. Keech for further disciplinary action, which could result in long-term suspension or expulsion.

"We as a school system think it was a heinous act," Mr. Morrison said. "We take it very seriously."

The two students arrested are to remain in their parents' custody.

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