Tens of thousands of chickens are dead after a man purportedly shut off the power to numerous chicken houses on a Maryland farm. He is also alleged to have been drunk at the time of the incident.
According to WTOP, close to 70,000 chickens are dead after a 21-year-old man allegedly shut down the electricity to three chicken houses located on a poultry farm in Delmar, Md.
The Wicomico Sheriff's office said in a press release [PDF] the incident happened on Aug. 25, 2012. Authorities said they received a call in the morning after Mark Shockley, the owner of the farm, found the circuit breakers had been shut off to his chicken houses during the night. The police responded to the call.
"Upon arrival, the deputy met with the property owner who advised that the electric power had been turned off to his three chicken houses on his property during the night-time hour which deprived the flock of food, water and cooling fans. As a result, almost the entire flock was found deceased," said the Wicomico Sheriff's Office. " When the property owner entered the control shed which controlled the power, he located an unknown male suspect passed out on the floor of the shed. This subject was also lying in a pool of his own urine. A strong odor of alcohol was also coming from the subject."
Approximately 100 chickens survived.
"Shockley advised that without power, the chickens will begin to die within 15 minutes," according to charging documents, reported Delaware Online.
The man's motive for shutting off power to the chicken houses is not clear.
"The theory is that he may have been in there looking for a light switch," said Lt. Tim Robinson of the Wicomico County Sheriff's Office. Robinson also noted this was the first time in his almost 20-year-career he'd seen a crime like this.
Authorities said the owner told them chickens were due to be delivered to a local processing plant the day they were found dead in their houses. The value of the chickens was placed to be at $20,000 and it is not yet known what it will cost to do cleanup.
Police have arrested 21-year old Joshua Shelton in connection with the death of the chickens. He is charged with second-and fourth-degree burglary, malicious destruction of property, trespassing on private property and animal cruelty.
Shelton remembers being on the property the night before at a post-concert gathering, which included the owner's daughter, but he said he does not recall going into the shed. The daughter was under the impression he had left when she ended the gathering and sent everyone home.
He is currently being held in lieu of $75,000.00 bond.