Far in the distance, the Mission Mountains snow peaked caps shine brightly in the sunshine and provide a stark contrast for the grisly scene that lays before us. Only a few yards away, lie the remains of a cow that has only recently perished. Not sensing anything out of the ordinary, I urge my horse to approach the scene to further investigate. We take two steps and my horse balks, as well as the other man and horse next to me. The other man however, doesn’t balk from fear as the horses did, but because he knows that something isn’t right. He has seen this exact same scene before, not a half mile away, and to the exact day one year ago. He knows that this death isn’t a natural one that is to be expected while tending to hundreds of cattle. This was something else entirely.
The first cow ‘mutilation’ that Lonnie experienced was on this same ranch and less than a mile away. On June 24th, 2012, he approached a cow that was healthy only days ago, but lay stiff and still and decomposing today. Time of death, June 20th, the summer solstice. Not sure what he was seeing at the time or why he felt uneasy, Lonnie took several pictures of the body and left the scene to continue with the days work. The next day, he returned with a Lake County Sheriffs Deputy to further examine the scene. Upon investigation, both men concluded that this cow had not died or been further harmed by what most would deem ‘natural causes’. Experts were called in to assess the situation and all walked away in disbelief or with shrugged shoulders. All said the same thing,
“I don’t know”
All they could say for certain was that they had never seen anything of the sort and that they believed there was a human culprit to be found.
The cow laid in a lush bed of grass that had been grazed short until within a few feet of her. Within this invisible boundary, it seemed as if no animal had dared to tread. The Lake County Sheriffs Department called its search and rescue trackers to determine how the culprits approached, operated, and left. The trackers spread out and scoured the property. They could not find any vehicle sign, footprints, point of entry, or any predator tracks on the surrounding property. They looked again. And again. Still nothing. Finally, they looked at each other and shrugged,
“I don’t know”
The cow laid on her right side with a large portion of hide missing from the left side of her ribs, several slits were cut in between each rib, and her reproductive organs had been removed. All of this would be attributable to the work of predators and scavengers had there been any blood on the ground around, but the ground was bone dry. The skin and organs had all been removed with a surgical precision and had been done without spilling a single drop of blood. To verify the findings, an autopsy was performed. A local vet confirmed what they believed and revealed further information.
The arcing cut that exposed the ribs was made with a knife. The heart was also missing and had been removed with staggering precision. She believed that someone had to have done that. The only opening large enough was at the base of the neck. No predator could have removed the heart through such a small opening without damaging the lungs and surrounding tissue. When asked who she believed did this or why, she shrugged,
“I don’t know”
The second cow that was found on this same ranch, was eerily similar to the first. Both bloodless, removed of organs, and untouched by anything around it. This cow had died the night before, the same night as the last. June 20th, the summer solstice. I had heard the story of the first cow several times and was always hesitant to believe. Not that I doubted the multiple sources who credited the story, just that things like this are too wild to really believe. I didn’t know what to think until I personally rode upon that animal scorching in the sun. Having lived my entire life in a ranching community, dead animals and the circumstances surrounding it are no stranger, it is merely a fact of life. After close inspection of this particular animal, I fully believed everything was not as it seemed in the Mission Valley.
Not a single person who viewed the scene could determine who had done this, how they had gotten there, or why. The cow seemed to have been dropped out of thin air after all of the work had been done without a single shred of evidence to be found. If you were to google this topic, thousands of reports can be found from locations all over the world. Many are easily attributable to predators or natural occurrences. Many are not so easily dismissed. There are a great many people that believe this is a great government conspiracy or that extra-terrestrial life is involved. Some believe that it is a combination of the two. What I saw that day didn’t suggest either of those explanations but that doesn’t mean I have a good answer for you. Ask me who or what is responsible for this and I’ll shrug and say,
“I don’t know”