Another ‘Satanic’ Panic Debunked


Every once in a while people fall into the grip of a Satanic panic, thinking that there are covens of witches and warlocks doing unspeakable rituals to people or animals. It always turns out to be nonsense, of course, and the latest one did as well.

A pony found in Dartmoor, England, in July apparently died under mysterious and horrific circumstances: It had been mutilated, and several of its organs were missing, which fueled speculation that it was killed in some sort of satanic or pagan ritual sacrifice.

The 2-month-old male pony apparently had its genitals, eyes, tongue and one ear removed. The death seemed very sinister and mysterious, leading Dartmoor’s livestock-protection officer to speculate that ” witches or devil worshipers” were responsible. This theory, in turn, sparked fears about the people who would kill and dismember a young pony.

Now, the mystery has been solved.

Devon and Cornwall police concluded this week that the pony had died of natural causes. The much-discussed “mutilation” was not, in fact, mutilation at all, but instead the normal result of wild animals eating the pony’s organs and scattering its entrails.

At least no one was killed over it this time and the mob with pitchforks and torches seems to have been avoided.

Comments

  1. says

    shakes head… as soon as I read what was missing (fleashy organs all near the surface) scavengers sounded way more likely then satanic cult.

  2. Anthony K says

    “Satanic Panic” sounds like a good band name.

    ♩Panic on the streets of Tophet/panic on the streets of Tartarus
    I wonder to myself/Could hell ever be sane again?♫

    I like it. Know any good guitarists?

  3. eric says

    Eyes in particular tend to get eaten fast. Juicy and not protected by skin. Soon as I saw that, I knew the explanation was going to be animals (rather than, say, human vandals/pranksters).

  4. tubi says

    For pete’s sake people. I’m eating lunch. And I’d hate to waste it, this baby is delicious.

  5. matty1 says

    Sorry to be a pedant but the linked article while right in the whole is spoiled for me by the US terms and concepts that don’t quite fit like referring to farmers as ranchers and giving wild animals as a possible cause of death. The largest wild carnivore in England is the badger and they are certainly not something that could chase down and kill a horse. It could have been the Beast of Bodmin popping over for a day out I suppose but then we’re back to wild rumours.

  6. Doug Little says

    Eyes in particular tend to get eaten fast

    No eyes are a window into the soul, stealing them makes more sense than your crazy reality based reason.

  7. Doug Little says

    It could have been the Beast of Bodmin popping over for a day out I suppose but then we’re back to wild rumours

    The Hound of the Baskervilles?

  8. naturalcynic says

    And about 300 km above, hidden by their cloaking device, the aliens are snickering.

  9. iknklast says

    It reminds me of a friend of mine who would see dead armadillos by the side of the road, turned over and their guts scooped out. He couldn’t figure out what sort of sick cult would do that, then one day, he saw a bird eating the insides and it dawned on him that he had been pretty silly. Too much time in the city, I think, without any referent to what happens to roadkill.

  10. raven says

    leading Dartmoor’s livestock-protection officer to speculate that ” witches or devil worshipers” were responsible….

    Oh gee, this is just so Dark Ages.

    Everyone knows the Muties are Reptilian UFO aliens.

  11. Alverant says

    Rock and Roll, D&D, lesbianism, and this. Satan is like the villain in an 80s afternoon cartoon coming up with bizarre plots to rule the world. What’s next, a Weather Dominator?

  12. zmidponk says

    matty1:

    The largest wild carnivore in England is the badger and they are certainly not something that could chase down and kill a horse.

    You’re forgetting about the Killer Rabbit.

  13. D. C. Sessions says

    The largest wild carnivore in England is the badger and they are certainly not something that could chase down and kill a horse.

    I’ve long suspected that Europe’s biodiversity had suffered badly, but this is just sad.

    We could send you a few coyotes until you can reintroduce wolves; the nice thing about coyotes is that they’re versatile and very adept at living around humans.

  14. Abby Normal says

    The much-discussed “mutilation” was not, in fact, mutilation at all, but instead the normal result of wild animals eating the pony’s organs and scattering its entrails.

    The satanic wild animals are coming for our childern! (Link warning: cartoon violence and sex. Sorry about the shaky cam.)

  15. eric says

    @16:

    Rock and Roll, D&D, lesbianism, and this. Satan is like the villain in an 80s afternoon cartoon

    Those elements would make an awesome saturday morning cartoon. Though it would quickly run into the same problem that Milton had – you start writing the antagonist, and realize pretty soon he’s the protagonist.

  16. D. C. Sessions says

    Though it would quickly run into the same problem that Milton had – you start writing the antagonist, and realize pretty soon he’s the protagonist.

    Has there ever been a decent story where the villain didn’t get the best lines [1]? I mean, really. Try to remember just one memorable line that Keaton got in Batman? Not one [2]. But Nicholson got scores of them. Dracula has had whole volumes of awesome lines; who the Hell cares what van Helsing said? Twerp.

    Of course Milton gave his best to Lucifer. How not? Where’s the room for character development or dramatic tension with Mr. “Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnibenevolent?” That would be a total yawner.

    [1] OK, half credit for Hamlet — but remember, he’s a vigilante going for personal revenge by committing regicide against what appears to be a reasonably competent king his mother is sweet on. On the other hand, the Scottish Play. ‘Nuff said. And don’t even try to make an excuse for Beowulf.
    [2] At least Batman is more than a little twisted. Superman? Give me a break.

  17. matty1 says

    @18 You’re actually getting close to my field here, I’m an ecologist by trade though not dealing with reintroductions so here are a few comments riffing of yours.

    There has been talk before of reintroducing wolves, albeit in Scotland not England but they are always quashed as a result of lobbying from sheep farmers.

    Both European beavers and wild boar have successfully reintroduced themselves in some areas following escapes from zoos and farms and are largely accepted but carnivores are a real sticking point.

    Eurasian lynx might be a better bet than coyote given their habitats in northern Spain are more similar and they were previously found in Britain.

    If that makes you sad, don’t look up what our idiotic government is doing in response to bovine tuberculosis, in defiance of the scientific evidence I might add.

  18. matty1 says

    Oh one more, EU law actually requires governments to look into whether species that are locally extinct can be reintroduced to their former range.

  19. D. C. Sessions says

    matty:

    If it makes you feel better, you could always write a story for The Grantville Gazette based on the introduction of invasive species from late-20th century West Virginia to 17th century Germany. So far the only one really mentioned is the American cardinal, but there are so many fun possibilities.

    My favorites are skunks and (obviously) coyotes, but pumas and mockingbirds would do rather nicely too. After the obvious ones I’m not so sure, but it could be a fun story.

  20. says

    Nothing screams “abysmal lack of common sense” like people blaming “witches or devil-worshippers” instead of ordinary scavengers. How did this idiot become a livestock-protection officer in the first place, if the cops have to do his work for him?

  21. caseloweraz says

    “The much-discussed “mutilation” was not, in fact, mutilation at all, but instead the normal result of wild animals eating the pony’s organs and scattering its entrails.”

    Why, that’s amazing! Who would have guessed that wild animals might mutilate a corpse that had died naturally and been left where it fell.

    /sarc

  22. caseloweraz says

    Matty1 (#10): “It could have been the Beast of Bodmin popping over for a day out I suppose but then we’re back to wild rumours.”

    Or mayhap ’twas the Black Dog of Newgate, newly returned from the moors…

  23. caseloweraz says

    Matty1 (#23): “Both European beavers and wild boar have successfully reintroduced themselves in some areas following escapes from zoos and farms and are largely accepted but carnivores are a real sticking point.”

    That’s interesting. Here in California we have a real peccary problem. They root up and consume lots of native plants, especially in national parks, and the males, like other boars, can be aggressive and dangerous.

  24. Doug Little says

    That’s interesting. Here in California we have a real peccary problem. They root up and consume lots of native plants, especially in national parks, and the males, like other boars, can be aggressive and dangerous.

    They are also delicious.

  25. freehand says

    Alverant: Rock and Roll, D&D, lesbianism, and this. Satan is like the villain in an 80s afternoon cartoon coming up with bizarre plots to rule the world. What’s next, a Weather Dominator?

    I am looking forward to the day (I probably won’t live long enough) for when this happens. The powerful entities of old – where are they now? Thor fights alongside Iron Man, Elves used to be cute little fairies, but have lately had something of their old stature restored to them. And Satan has made numerous movie appearances. Someday (Mark my words!) there will be a cartoon Jesus superhero, perhaps with a sidekick (Pietro, the littlest apostle). They will fight bad guys (Romans?) and hang out with naughty girls and tax collectors…

  26. says

    Nothing screams “abysmal lack of common sense” like people blaming “witches or devil-worshippers” instead of ordinary scavengers. How did this idiot become a livestock-protection officer in the first place, if the cops have to do his work for him?

    This.

    So aliens and Satanists mutilate livestock in the same way. They may be one and the same!

    hahahhahahaha +million

  27. Trebuchet says

    When I saw the victim was a pony I immediately thought of Ken White, at Popehat! He’s apparently become a Satanist.

  28. dingojack says

    Matty (#10) – While Iran has no homosexuals, the UK has no feral dogs. so says Matty.
    D. C. Sessions (#18) – yeah but they’re really shit at catching Road Runners.
    Dingo

  29. matty1 says

    @39 We did a swap, not many people know the entire gay population of Brighton was born in Tehran and several Ayatollah’s have been mauled by corgi’s.

    More seriously.

    1. I didn’t think to include feral in wild to be honest

    2. Dogs going feral must happen but I doubt it is very common, not just because I’ve never heard of it but because there aren’t a lot of spaces a dog could run wild for long without being caught or shot by a farmer. I sometimes think people from the Americas and Australia have trouble getting the sheer human population density of western Europe.

  30. dingojack says

    Feral dogs are wild in that they are not tame, otherwise they’d be domestic.* ;)
    I guess that high human population densities that keep all European dogs tame oesn’t extend to Dartmoor.

    Sheep farmers here are estimating that wild dogs are going to completely kill the sheep industry in 10 to 30 years. (Then again, they’ve been predicting ruin for years. “Here’s’ a farmer who hanged himself on the expectation of plenty” & etc.).
    Dingo
    ——-
    * feral from the Latin ‘ferox’ wild; untamed, uncontrolled and etc.

  31. Morgan says

    Fred at Slactivist has mentioned this story. Sadly (number four on this list), even a week after the police officially concluded that it was just the work of scavengers, tabloids are running stories about scary mutilation cults. Some of this bullshit is basically immune to debunking.

  32. garnetstar says

    Reminds me of a TV show I once saw promoting the alien-visitors theory. They showed a cow that had been killed (not a natural death) and left in a field. Its belly had been cut open with an implement that left a zig-zg pattern.

    Male investigators were exclaiming over it, saying “This kind of cut could not have been made with any implement known to this world!” I died laughing: it had been made with pinking shears (scissors used to cut fabric so that it doesn’t fray), which, obviously, these macho men had never seen since real men don’t sew.

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