More than three weeks after decapitated goats were dumped on the side of Line Road in Manorville, their rotting carcasses still had not been removed as of Saturday morning. However, officials with the State Department of Environmental Conservation say they will finally be placed elsewhere.
The Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is investigating what the organization called a “gruesome discovery” as a possible ritualistic killing. After the goats were found in late June, SPCA Chief Roy Gross speculated that the goats had been slaughtered three to four weeks before being discovered, meaning at this point, they have been decomposing for almost two months.
As of Friday morning, the carcasses lied beside an empty stretch of Line Road in between Grumman Boulevard and Wading River Manor Road. The property, Otis Pike Preserve, is owned by New York State. Because the goats are in small clearing of underbrush only four or five feet from Line Road, they are quickly noticeable.
Nearby Old River Road resident Claire Bennet noticed the scene Thursday while walking her dog.
“I can’t believe nobody’s cleaned it up yet,” she said. “It’s totally disgusting.”
According to a press release alerting the public about the incident in late June, the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which oversees the preserve, was made aware of the dead animals before the Suffolk SPCA; the state entity alerted Chief Gross that they were there.
After the investigation was completed, he said, “we called the DEC to get somebody to clean it up. Apparently they didn’t do it.”
When asked for comment from the News-Review about the decapitated carcasses on Friday, a DEC official offered the following statement: “Generally DEC allows for wildlife and natural processes to take their course, however, due to the nature of this incident, DEC will move the remains to a more suitable location so recreationalists will not come across this scene again.”
The Suffolk SPCA will take some carcasses in for further investigation if a necropsy can still be performed. However in this instance, “they were severely decomposed by the time we got there,” he said, so there was no use of them for further investigation.
The town attorney’s office reported on Friday that generally, 15 feet from the roadway is considered a right-of-way of which the property owner still is responsible for maintenance — so it wouldn’t be the town’s responsibility to clean up the dumping. However the town still has access to the land if needed.
The smell within 10 feet of the scene was overwhelming and nauseating, but Ms. Bennet said it was not as bad as it was early in the decomposition process.
“That right now isn’t bad at all,” she said. “You should have seen what it was like two or three weeks ago.”
The SPCA is currently offering a reward for information that leads to an arrest in the goat killings, in addition to other animal killings that have been reported in the area as of late. In Aquebogue last week, three chickens were found with their heads cut off near the railroad tracks. And in Orient, seven dead cats were found in a duffel bag.
The SPCA is seeking volunteers to help investigate the recent string of incidents.
With Joseph Pinciaro
Photos by Chris Lisinski