The Deadly Breakup

D. E. Larsen, DVM

“The sheriff is on the phone for you,” Sandy said as she leaned against the surgery room doorway. “I don’t know what he wants, but you don’t want to get in the middle of a mess.”

“Good morning,” I said into the phone, not sure who I was going to be on the other end of the line. “This is Dr. Larsen. How can I help you?”

“Doc, this is Jerry, I’m a Deputy Sheriff,” Jerry said. “I have a case that needs your expertise.”

“I’m not looking to become an expert witness in a long trial,” I said. “I can’t afford that kind of time away from this practice.”

“Nothing like that, we have a situation out on Berlin road where a couple had a breakup, and the guy caused a lot of problems.”

“That doesn’t sound like something I have any expertise to provide.”

“During the breakup, the guy shot her horse,” Jerry said.

“Is the horse dead?”

“Oh, yes,” Jerry said. “The horse is dead, but we need the bullet.”

“You want me to find a single bullet somewhere inside of a big horse?’

“That’s right! If it can be done.” 

“And who is going to pay this expertise?” I asked.

“I’ll have the girl’s mother give you a call and take care of that part,” Jerry said.

“Okay, I can give it a try, but if I am going out to a place where things are getting shot, I’ll ask to have a Deputy with me.”

“That’s no problem,” Jerry said. “As soon as you get the payment taken care of and set up time, I can either stop by the office and follow you up there, or you could ride along with me.”

“That sounds like a mess,” Sandy said as I hung up the phone.

“Jerry didn’t provide any names, but when a lady calls for me to look at a dead horse, you get her credit card information and tell her there is no way to know how much this is going to cost. Once we get the payment details worked out, we can schedule a time. I don’t want this horse laid out there in the sun for a few days before I have to go digging for a bullet.”

We had no more than finished the conversation when the mother called. Apparently, when the kids broke up, the guy went berserk. He tore up the little house they lived in and shot the horse.

“That poor horse,” Sandy said. “He had nothing to do with the situation, and he gets shot. Why would the guy do that?”

“Just his way of causing the most amount of hurt he can,” I said. “She’s probably lucky that it was the horse and not her.”

With the appointment set up for right after lunch, Jerry was waiting at the clinic when we returned from lunch.

“Why don’t I follow you,” I said as I headed out the door to my truck.

It was a short drive out to the small house on Berlin road. The landlord was there cleaning up the mess when we arrived. 

“Look at this house,” Bud said, waving at the inside of the small house. “He slashed the water bed, and the whole place is flooded. He tore the doors off the cabinets and broke the bathroom door. I don’t know how much this is going to cost to fix.”

“The story goes that he stood here on the porch with a 30-30 and shot the horse out in the pasture,” Jerry said.

“That is a pretty good shot,” I said. “That horse is over a hundred yards out in the field. Let’s go get a look at him.”

The horse was lying on his left side. The ground was undisturbed, giving evidence of no death struggle.

“This horse was dead when he hit the ground,” I said as we approached the horse. 

There was a single bullet wound. In the perfect spot, just right between the eyes and a little higher.

“I would hate to have this guy shooting at me,” I said. “This is an amazing shot for a 30-30 with open sights, from over 100 yards.”

“Do you think you can get the bullet,” Jerry asked?

“We will know pretty soon,” I said as I swiped my necropsy knife on the wet stone.

I pulled the horse’s head back and slit the throat, dissecting rapidly to its attachment to the first vertebra. A couple of knife strokes then, and the head was severed.

I set the head on the horse’s shoulder to explore the wound. 

It was easy to trace the bullet’s path through the head. The bottom of the brain case was blown off.

“Look at that,” I said, showing Jerry the exit hole from the brain case. “If there is anything good about this whole affair, it’s that this horse didn’t feel a thing.”

Returning to the horse’s neck, I got a little lucky. The bullet’s path went into the left side of the neck, went through a couple of feet of muscle, and came to rest just under the skin. 

I sliced the skin over the bullet and picked it up.

“Here you go,” I said, holding the bullet up for Jerry to see.

I dropped the bullet in Jerry’s little evidence bag and pulled off my gloves.

“That was a whole lot easier than I thought it was going to be,” I said.

Jerry tucked the baggy into his pocket and looked back at the house.

“I hadn’t thought about it before,” he said. “That was one hell of a lucky shot.”

“There is a difference between lucky and good,” I said. “This guy might be an SOB, but I think he is one hell of a shot. I could stand up there and shoot a hundred times with a 30-30 and not hit a target like this.”

Photo by Erik-Jan Leusink on Unsplash

Published by d.e.larsen.dvm

Country vet for over 40 years in Sweet Home Oregon. I graduated from Colorado State University in 1975. I practiced in Enumclaw Washington for a year and a half before moving to Sweet Home to start a practice.

4 thoughts on “The Deadly Breakup

  1. You have certainly been called with some very unusual requests during your time as a vet. I hope you never got another call anything remotely like this one. It is very sad the horse was the victim here. As you said, the woman was lucky it wasn’t her.

    Liked by 1 person

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