WAYCROSS, GA–In a grisly murder that has stunned residents of this peaceful southeastern Georgia town, the gutted remains of a local chicken were discovered in a dumpster Monday.
The chicken, whose skin and flesh were almost 90 percent missing, was found in a garbage bag behind Jack's Cluck Shack by a pair of Waycross police officers responding to a routine lunch-pick-up call.
"It was gruesome," said Det. Sam Welty, one of the officers who made the find. "When I first looked at the victim, I could barely tell what it was. The bones were all broken, the head was missing, and one of the thigh bones bore what appeared to be human teeth marks."
The name of the victim, a longtime employee of Tyson Poultry Farms, is being withheld.
According to Sgt. Bruce Stebbins of the Waycross Police Department, the brutal slaying will not be easy to solve. "Because the victim's beak is missing, dental records will be useless," he said. "And, thus far, we have found no signs of struggle, such as scattered feathers or claw marks. Whoever perpetrated this brutal crime clearly knew what he was doing."
Though the entire area around Jack's Cluck Shack has been sealed off, police officials are increasingly doubtful that it was the site of the murder. Investigators suspect that the crime occurred at Tyson Poultry Farms, where blood tentatively matching that of the victim was discovered late last night.
Suspicions were further aroused by the recent disappearance of most of the chicken's co-workers. "When we went to the victim's place of employment to ask questions, thousands of chickens who had worked alongside the slain bird were no longer there," Det. Patrick Duvalier said. "It would appear that somebody is on the run."
"The victim was likely killed at work, perhaps by a jealous co-worker, and then fried, torn apart, and dumped in a trash receptacle," Duvalier said. "This is the work of a twisted, depraved sociopath."
Though everyone in Waycross has been stunned by the slaying, the town's poultry community is particularly devastated.
"All of the chickens are absolutely terrified," farm owner Hup Wheeler said. "They trust no one, viewing every farmhand who comes in to collect eggs or scatter feed as a potential threat. Even the sight of farmhands they've known for years causes the chickens to flap wildly and squawk in terror, fearing for their very lives."
Members of the victim's immediate family declined comment, apparently too distraught to talk to the media.
According to profilers from the FBI's Serial Crimes Investigation unit, understanding the killer is the first step toward capturing him or her.
"There is no such thing as a typical chicken killer, so we have to look at the evidence," FBI agent James Oberkfell said. "Since the body does not seem to have been sexually abused in any way, we're most likely dealing with a someone who lusts only for blood. But whatever the motivation, judging from the efficient, methodical manner in which the body was dismembered, we can assume that our killer is experienced and smart. He's done it before. And we believe he's working himself up to do it again."
Oberkfell noted that because so much of the flesh is missing, cannibalism is not out of the question. "Though admittedly a long shot," he said, "it is possible that we're dealing with a bizarre new aberration–a warped, vicious killer with an insatiable hunger for chicken flesh."
Lending credence to Oberkfell's theory is a preliminary forensic lab report, which shows that, after being killed, the victim was seasoned with a special blend of 11 herbs and spices and then hand-dipped in extra-crispy batter.
FBI authorities said there appears to be no connection between this killing and 1983's infamous "Alabama Slasher" murders, in which dozens of chicken legs, covered in what lab tests identified as cole slaw, were discovered in a plastic garbage bag behind a Montgomery KFC.