The victim count is at three for an unknown killer in Texas who has been targeting pets belonging to a Houston family.
The three slayings unfolded over the past week and a half in separate incidents -- and as the killings escalate, police worry the perpetrator may target humans next.
"We're obviously very concerned because if someone would do this to these three animals, we don't know what they might do next to people," said Houston police Sergeant Virginia Brasher.
The animals belong to Lucy Garcia, a long-time resident of the 2000 block of Charles Road in northeast Houston, and her three children, ages 10, 14 and 15.
"We are a very quiet and close family who live in a quiet neighborhood," said Garcia, who reported she has no idea why her pets are being killed.
The first victim, a collie named Little Buddy, was shot to death on Oct. 3. Four days later, a Rottweiler named P.J. was discovered poisoned. The most recent and most brutal slaying occurred on Oct. 8, when the family's beloved horse, Angel, was stabbed to death in her stall. Police say someone slit the animal's throat.
"It's just a very disturbing scene and there was just a large amount of blood," Brasher said. "[The suspect] let the horse bleed out. And it looked like possibly the person was there while the horse was bleeding; they were smudging blood up the walls -- just very disturbing."
The same night the horse was killed, a chicken that was being kept in a pen near the horse's stall was so severely injured that it had to be euthanized. Police are not classifying the chicken's death as the work of the killer.
"The family can't figure out why they are being targeted, and the investigators do not know why," Houston Police Department spokesman Kese Smith said.
Each of the animals had been in the family for several years. Garcia owned P.J. since before her oldest child was born. Little Buddy was five years old and Angel had been a fourth birthday gift to her youngest daughter six years ago.
All of the kids are having a difficult time coping with the animals' deaths, Garcia said.
"My children would wake up every morning before they went to school, feed them, and give them their water for the day. In the afternoon, when they came home, they would take care of them again," she said.
Her youngest daughter is devastated over the loss of her horse, which her mom said was so gentle she could ride it bareback.
"She wants her horse," Garcia said. "And I can't give Angel to her. It really breaks my heart. I love horses. For someone to hurt my child's horse and make her hurt... That is what gets me."
According to Brasher, there have been no other reports of similar killings in the area.
"This is about as disturbing a case as I've ever seen as far as an animal being killed," Brasher said.
Anyone with information about the animal killings case is asked to contact the Houston Police Department Major Offenders Division at 713-308-3100 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.
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