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Independence man cited for killing Ella, the beloved tame deer at cemetery: Please protest

August 31, 2013
Facebook/Jody Haherty

Facebook/Jody Haherty


Phoenix M. Vankirk, 19, of Independence, Mo. was cited by the Missouri Department of Conservation on Thursday for killing a deer out of season. Ella, a two-year-old doe was a favorite calming celebrity who lived peacefully at a Kansas City cemetery.

According to, on the evening of August 3, Vankirk allegedly admitted to authorities he was on the porch grilling when he looked across the street at the Elmwood Cemetery and spotted the doe. He grabbed his 45 caliber handgun and shot Ella through her shoulder. The doe ran for a moment or two, and then collapsed and died.

Vankirk told police he had no idea the doe was tame, and he killed her for food for his family. When he drove his car to retrieve the deer’s body, the gates to the cemetery were locked.

The gorgeous, gentle doe quickly became the mascot of the cemetery two years ago where she was born. At three months old, Ella’s mother was killed by a car, but the doe who made friends with a stray dog remained at the cemetery and called the 43 acres her home. The Missouri Department of Conservation told the owners of the cemetery to allow Ella to remain at the location.

Mourners would frequently find solace as the doe with her big round, brown eyes would stand on the sidelines as funeral services were held.

Vankirk told authorities he apologizes for killing Ella and did not kill her as a malicious act.

A Facebook page titled Remembering Ella reflects considerable anger on Friday morning. Vankirk was issued a citation which carries a $275 fine for shooting Ella. If Vankirk does not pay his fine, additional penalties could increase to a $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail.

Members of the Facebook group want Vankirk to be cited for animal cruelty and are asking people to contact the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office.

Read more about Ella and how she brought a quiet peace to those who met her by clicking here.

Facebook Group: Remembering Ella HERE


Please click HERE to sign Facebook petition


At this time there is no email address, only a postal address and telephone number.

County Prosecutor Peters Baker
415 E. 12th Street, 11th Floor
Kansas City, Missouri 64106

Telephone (816) 881-3555


Dear Jackson County Prosecutor Peters Baker,

It has come to my attention that a gross case of animal cruelty has been committed by Phoenix M. Vankirk, 19, of Independence, Missouri.   Mr. Vankirk was cited by the Missouri Department of Conservation for killing a deer out of season, Ella, as well as committing various other crimes, such as discharging a lethal weapon in the city, putting the public safety at risk, trespassing, discharging a lethal weapon in a cemetery, animal cruelty, etc. After a review of this case and developing a better idea of the situation, I find it necessary to voice my concern along with an ever-growing national collective who share my disbelief and outrage regarding the utter depravity displayed in this case. I therefore respectfully request the most severe penalty be pursued as well.

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 engage in such malevolent behaviour absolutely suggests sociopathic and sadistic tendencies and 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 animals has, disturbingly enough, the ability to show such indifference towards humans. This link between animal and human abuse has been established, and if we excuse or ignore Ella’s violent killing, we would be serving an injustice to both animals and society.

As such, please proceed with the most severe penalties available.

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


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of gentle eyes
and demeanor
soft and kind.
you were taken
away from us,
with much sorrow
left behind.
you never harmed
you healed more than a
and now we want to
see some
justice for

Karen Lyons Kalmenson


5 Comments leave one →
  1. karenlyonskalmenson permalink
    August 31, 2013 11:27 am

    of gentle eyes
    and demeanor
    soft and kind.
    you were taken
    away from us,
    with much sorrow
    left behind.
    you never harmed
    you healed more than a
    and now we want to
    see some
    justice for


    • August 31, 2013 11:31 am

      That is so, so sweet, truly fit for Ella, thank you, hon.


      • karenlyonskalmenson permalink
        August 31, 2013 11:31 am

        you are so welcome, sweet Stacey and thank you♥


  2. August 31, 2013 6:19 pm

    When I was very young, an orphaned fawn joined our farm family of dogs, cats, and people. My dad put on a little collar, but hunters shot her anyway. I added your site to: Thank you for your contributions.


    • August 31, 2013 8:03 pm

      I am so sorry to read that, I am certain she was wonderful, all animals are. 🙂 Thank you for the add, it’s so important to share the alerts and stories.


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