Major Mike LaCasse, Chief Investigator for Orange County, says they are “working vigorously” to solve this case. The problem is there are no leads and no known motive. “We don’t even have a direction [where the bullet was fired from] yet!”
Hilliard is pleased the investigators are actively working this case. She wrote they have been to the crime site many times working on trajectory and other clues.
Even though there are signs posted for “no trespassing” and “no hunting,” it seems hunters are still found on the grounds. With all roads leading to the rescue being a minimum of one mile long, who would not conclude that whoever shot Mary the emu did it with intent, not accidentally? Mary was not walking in the woods, she was shot in her penned-in area where she lived with her unique inter-species family.
We’ve had a lot of trespassing folks from just a very few families, several prosecuted, I’d venture to say it’s one of them. We’ve never had any hostility towards any of our animals before. It’s poaching, out of season hunting and so on that seems to make most folks trespass. And it is very few who do.
It’s repeat offenders that we keep catching over and over. Most of our neighbors and the people of Orange County are wonderful people. We don’t allow hunting on sanctuary property for any reason. Not only is this a sanctuary for animals, discharging firearms where there is a lot of activity, both human and owned animals is very dangerous.
There is a cemetery on the grounds where many of the departed animals are buried. Unfortunately, this will not be Mary’s final resting place. Hilliard told me when a necropsy is performed the State of Virginia does not return the remains.
Many of the staff and volunteers who have been touched by Mary’s sweet and gentle nature are planning a memorial service. The plans have not yet been finalized.
Mary’s small family including Windy, Wonda, Gandolf and Beau has certainly been grieving; Beau more than everyone else. “Beau is especially taking it hard and will only eat when hand fed right now,” says Hilliard.
“Animals have all the same emotions we do and they are all grieving in their own way and miss their friend. They also are now afraid, just like many of us are, looking over your shoulder, worrying about someone else sneaking up and shooting you,” wrote Hilliard.
Sweet Mary, rest in peace. Let’s hope the killer is found and prosecuted.
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All photos of Mary courtesy of Kerry Hilliard
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