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Please prosecute alleged turkey torturers

December 24, 2012
Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons



On Friday evening, December 14, 2012, University of Kansas fraternity Beta Theta Pi, in Lawrence, rented a turkey for a fraternity house drinking party. Eyewitnesses described fraternity members kicking in the cage in which the turkey was confined. After they broke the cage, the bird was chased, thrown like a football, and choked by the neck. The Kansas City Star reported 12/17/2012: “When the turkey’s wing snapped, and then its leg, the animal began screaming, witnesses said.”

Witnesses described the brutality they observed as “nauseating” and “horrible.” A band member at the scene begged the fraternity to let her rescue the turkey from the violence but was told it was none of her business. Police were told a fraternity member finally killed the turkey.

The KU Beta Theta Pi complaint is under criminal investigation. The National Beta Theta Pi parent organization has put the KU fraternity on suspension. KU fraternities are governed by the campus’s Interfraternity Council which will do the initial investigation using information from the police. The University of Kansas has influence over the Council. University Relations told Lawrence activist Judy Carman yesterday, “We’re not going to let this go away.”

Kansas Cruelty to Animals Statute 21-4310 defines Cruelty to Animals as “Intentionally killing, injuring, maiming, torturing or mutilating any animal.”

A key word in this law is INTENTIONAL. The fact that the fraternity rented the turkey for a drinking party shows an intention to put this bird in a destructive situation likely (certain) to cause injury or death to this animal by intoxicated students. By all accounts, Beta Theta Pi members intentionally tortured, injured and killed this helpless, unoffending bird.


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Chief Tarik Khatib
Lawrence Police Department

The Honorable Charles Branson, District Attorney
Douglas County District Attorney’s Office

Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little
Chancellor’s Office
The University of Kansas
230 Strong Hall
Lawrence, KS 66045-7518
Phone: 785-864-3131
Fax: 785-864-4120

Jeffrey Vitter, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
University of Kansas

Rueben Perez, Director, Greek Life
University of Kansas

Amy Long, Associate Director, Greek Life
University of Kansas

Dustin B. Struble, Assistant Director, Greek Life
University of Kansas

Douglas County Kansas District Attorney’s Office

Justin Warren, Director of Chapter Operations
Beta Theta Pi Foundation and Administrative Office
5134 Bonham Road, PO Box 6277
Oxford, OH 45056
Phone: 513-523-7591 (Justin Warren ext 264)
Fax: 513-523-2381

IFC Executive Board
Interfraternity Council
University of Kansas
1301 Jayhawk Blvd
Room 424, Kansas Union
Lawrence, KS 66045
Phone: 785-864-4643


Dear Officials,

I have learned of extremely disturbing and malicious case of animal cruelty allegedly committed by members of the University of Kansas’ Beta Theta Pi fraternity. In a December 14 incident, the fraternity members reportedly tortured a turkey to death during a party at their building. According to witnesses and media reports, fraternity members viciously poked at the turkey, kicked in the cage that contained her, and then relentlessly chased the terrified animal through a raucous crowd of 150 people, throwing her about “like a football,” swinging her through the air, and choking her. During this horrific ordeal, the screaming bird apparently sustained multiple broken bones and was ultimately killed. It is essential to recognize that the decision to harm this gentle, innocent non-human animal was premeditated as demonstrated by the chronicle of events.  Charges have not yet been filed against those responsible, and I am writing to express my support of sentencing the fraternity members to the maximum penalty allowed under the law.

I am also writing to ask University of Kansas officials to take disciplinary action against those involved if the allegations are determined to be true, and urge the university to enact a campus-wide ban on events involving live animals.

When I try to imagine what possible motive animal abusers entertain for subjecting their animal victims to such malicious, heinous acts of brutality, I fail, but I am thankful for a lack of cognitive understanding and rationalization. To voluntarily engage in such malicious behaviour suggests sadistic tendencies, and these actions, causing unmitigated pain and suffering, demonstrates an incontrovertible lack of morality regarding other living beings and a gross disrespect for the law. In fact, a person who shows such a remarkable lack of compassion towards non-human animals has the ability to show such indifference towards human animals. This link between animal and human abuse has been established, and if we excuse this criminal behaviour, or agree to a lesser punishment, we only harm ourselves by unjustly nullifying cruelty as acceptable behaviour.

I am hoping that you will take an unyielding position against animal cruelty and hold the fraternity accountable by sentencing it in accordance with the maximum penalty allowed under Kansas §21-6412, which defines “cruelty to animals” as “knowingly and maliciously killing, injuring, maiming, torturing, burning or mutilating any animal”. If the justice system does not administer the harshest penalty available, it is indeed excusing this malicious behaviour towards a sentient being, and to excuse this type of sadistic cruelty harms all by disregarding the basic moral tenet of respecting life and appreciating the value of it. We need to demonstrate in both word and action that the human essence of empathy does not exist to excuse maliciousness, it exists to provide compassion and justice to the brutalized and punishment to those who willingly deviate from this capacity. If we do not do our duty to provide this, we harm all animals and invite injustice into our society.

I know your time is limited and I want to thank you for your attention and consideration to this urgent appeal.



Dear Ms. :

Thank you for contacting the office of District Attorney Charles Branson.

The Lawrence Police Department is conducting the investigation of the incident and it is estimated that it will take several weeks to complete. Therefore, as of this date, no facts about the situation have been presented to our office. We cannot speculate on what level of charges, if any, will be filed until we receive law enforcement’s investigative reports.

We take any allegation of animal abuse seriously and will pursue any charge we believe is supported by the facts of the case and I will relay your concerns to the District Attorney so he will be aware of them when the reports are reviewed.

Thank you again for taking the time to share your concerns with our office.

Sincerely yours,

Cheryl L. Wright
Assistant to the D.A.
Office of District Attorney Charles Branson
111 E. 11th St, Unit 100
Lawrence, KS 66044–2912

Ms. ,

Thanks for your outreach and please know that we appreciate and share in your concern. Let me assure you that Beta Theta Pi General Fraternity takes these allegations very seriously. At this time, we have suspended the chapter’s activities pending a complete and thorough investigation.

Please see the attached statement issued on behalf of the undergraduate chapter, which acknowledges the General Fraternity’s suspension of chapter activities.

In addition, the following statement was provided to the undergraduate chapter’s leadership as a part of the official action to suspend all chapter activities pending the ongoing investigations:

“Beta Theta Pi prides itself on being an organization that holds its members to the highest standards of personal and group conduct. The risk management policy and other rules and regulations of the General Fraternity, the University and the state of Kansas provide the framework for those standards. In light of the recent incident at the chapter’s semester-end formal dinner and dance, the chapter’s ability to operate in the constructs of those regulations has been called into question.

It is expected that the General Fraternity and the Alpha Nu chapter will coordinate an initial investigation to determine what occurred the evening of the incident. Further, we expect that the chapter will comply fully with University and local officials during their investigations. All chapter activities are suspended until a complete investigation has been completed.”

Further, Beta is certainly ensuring that this chapter never has a live animal at another event in the future and is looking into how prevalent this problem is at our other chapters to determine the need for and/or best way to communicate a national policy banning live animals from all Beta Theta Pi events.

We will continue to work diligently to make sure appropriate parties are held accountable and we appreciate your patience as this process unfolds.



December 19, 2012

Members of the KU and Lawrence Community:

The University of Kansas Chapter of Beta Theta Pi and its alumni take seriously the allegations of
mistreatment of animals in conjunction with our annual end-of-the-semester formal dinner and dance
last Friday night. It is for that reason that our chapter supports and accepts our General Fraternity’s
decision to immediately suspend our chapter’s activities until a thorough investigation has been
completed. We are fully cooperating with the University of Kansas, Beta Theta Pi General Fraternity and
legal authorities. The alleged behavior conflicts sharply with our values of integrity, responsible conduct
and trust, and pending the outcome of the investigation, we are committed to holding responsible
parties accountable for any inappropriate behavior.

The Alpha Nu Chapter of Beta Theta Pi
University of Kansas

For more information, please contact:
L. Martin Cobb
Director of Communication
Beta Theta Pi Fraternity
Oxford, Ohio

Thank you for your message. This incident is under investigation by the Lawrence Police Department. It is also being investigated by the national fraternity, which has suspended the chapter indefinitely, and the KU Interfraternity Council. The University of Kansas expects anyone with information about this incident to cooperate fully. Behavior such as that reported is reprehensible and is not what KU would expect from its students.

Bernadette Gray-Little

the little girl closed her eyes and prayed,
that all the pain and heartaches would
go away,
that great wonders of kindness
she might wake up to instead,
of all the sadness and sorrows
she took with her to

this abject cruelty, debauched and
by those who think this is funny,
this is so beyond mean.
these so called students need
to be expelled,
they will think twice
before they put
another innocent
through this hell!!!!

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

11 Comments leave one →
  1. karenlyonskalmenson permalink
    December 24, 2012 11:50 am

    the little girl closed her eyes and prayed,
    that all the pain and heartaches would
    go away,
    that great wonders of kindness
    she might wake up to instead,
    of all the sadness and sorrows
    she took with her to

    this abject cruelty, debauched and
    by those who think this is funny,
    this is so beyond mean.
    these so called students need
    to be expelled,
    they will think twice
    before they put
    another innocent
    through this hell!!!!


  2. December 24, 2012 1:12 pm

    The disgust and disappointment I have for the human race is over-flowing and fear for what the future in the hands of such deplorable people is a terribly disturbing worry. I was hoping that my grandchildren would be given a better world. I hope that the monsters who tortured this poor, innocent animal will be punished VERY harshly and made to be a warning to any other aspiring monsters.


    • December 26, 2012 5:48 pm

      I hope that, too. Actually, I would hope it would never happen again, but I know it will. 😦 Thanks for your comments.


  3. December 24, 2012 1:15 pm

    Thanks Stacey sent emails to all lets just hope it makes a difference i also shared in several places


  4. MorganG permalink
    December 24, 2012 2:23 pm

    Sent my emails and will follow up. Crossposting to all. This is just sick.


  5. ceschmutz permalink
    December 26, 2012 4:34 pm

    Too difficult….need a petition I can just sign/send, please!


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