WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND—In an appalling incident that has sent shockwaves through the surrounding community, authorities confirmed Thursday that the decayed, dismembered remains of 15 missing hobbits were found in the attic of highly acclaimed film director Peter Jackson.

Jackson, 52, was reportedly taken into police custody immediately and is now awaiting charges.

“At this time, we can confirm that 15 halflings between the ages of 25 and eleventy-one were discovered inside the home of Peter Jackson at approximately 4 p.m. this afternoon,” said Wellington Police District Commander Stephen Jones, adding that authorities were initially called when Jackson’s neighbors complained of “a rotting odor” emanating from his home, after which officers conducted a comprehensive search of the property. “We eventually found a hidden hatch on the perpetrator’s ceiling, which was held shut by three heavy-duty locks. Once we opened the door, we came across the victims, already deceased, all of whom had the hair ripped out from the tops of their feet.”

While stressing that autopsies are still pending, Jones told reporters the hobbits appeared to have been gagged, beaten, and routinely starved, often receiving only one breakfast per day. The bodies were reportedly completely emaciated, while several were missing entire rows of teeth and covered in abrasions consistent with Hithlain rope burns.

Upon being apprehended by police, sources said Jackson, who was reportedly nearly incoherent at the time, claimed that he was “just preparing a lovely feast for his guests from the Shire” and then began shrieking that “old Odo Proudfoot is up to all sorts of mischief again.”

“From what we’ve gathered, Jackson lured these hobbits to his home with promises of pipe-weed, seed cake, and Barliman’s Best ale,” Jones said. “He then knocked them unconscious, stripped them naked, and bound their hands and feet before confining them in the windowless space above his bedroom, where they were kept alive for varying spans of time.”

“We can also confirm at this time that a number of the victims had been sexually assaulted,” Jones added.

Jones confirmed that alongside the corpses in the attic, authorities found blindfolds, whips, chains, and several Morgul-blades, as well as a long row of severed oversized feet nailed to a wall. Reportedly uncovered in a separate room of the house were hundreds of plastic bags filled with curly brown hobbit hair.

Although officials have yet to release the names of all the victims, reports indicated that among those imprisoned in Jackson’s home were Shire residents Reginard Brockhouse, 49, Myrtle Underhill, 62, Donnamira Boffin, 57, and Fredegar Smallburrow, 74. Also said to have been found was the body of Daisy Gamgee, a 30-year-old adolescent hobbit from Bag End who was reported missing by her parents this past Mid-Year’s Day, having been last seen in Bywater at the Green Dragon Inn.

Furthermore, sources said the body of one hobbit, whom investigators have yet to identify, was discovered skinned from head to toe and hung by the ankles from a 4-foot-high ceiling beam.

“We are obviously dealing with an incredibly disturbed individual here,” said Jones, adding that Jackson will be investigated in connection with the two bloodied hobbit corpses dumped in the Brandywine River last year, eventually identified as Tolman and Mirabella Grubb of Bree. “It is still unclear what drove this man to such heinous and unconscionable acts. We did, however, confiscate a personal journal from his bedside, which will perhaps provide some insight into his mind once it is translated from Adûnaic.”

Residents of Jackson’s Wellington neighborhood, meanwhile, expressed their utter shock that such a terrible tragedy could occur right under their noses.

“It’s unthinkable that something like this could happen here,” said 38-year-old accountant Allison Gaines, who lives two houses down from Jackson. “This is a quiet, friendly neighborhood, and I’ve lived here my entire life. I didn’t know Peter very well, but he would occasionally wave when I passed him on the sidewalk.”

In light of the tragedy, candlelight vigils for the victims are reportedly being organized this evening in Bucklebury, Whitfurrows, Hobbiton, and Long Cleeve. Thousands from the four Farthings are expected to be in attendance.

“That man is an absolute monster who deserves to rot in the dungeons of Dol Guldur for the rest of his life,” said 77-year-old Erling Mugwort, speaking to reporters outside his hobbit-hole in Crickhollow. “I can’t believe we used to actually welcome him here. He would come and share in our songs and stories, and the thought of that makes my stomach churn.”

“He said he loved us,” added Mugwort, grimacing as his eyes welled with tears. “He’s a very sick man.”