The True Face of a “Ritual” Animal Killer

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  February 15, 2011 — 21 Comments

Time and time again, I’ve attacked the notion that dead animal parts, especially dead animal parts left lying around in public, were the result of Santeria or Vodou rituals, instead of an individual’s distressed mind. This is not just my opinion, officials within the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have noted that such actions “are most often the work of religious novices, teens or satanic dabblers.” Yet, the allure of some dark cult littering animal parts in various places endures within modern journalism, despite often flimsy or circumstantial evidence. So I think a recent story from WAVY in Virginia is most illuminating as to exploring the type of person who (allegedly) slaughters someone’s animals, leaves the heads in strategic places, and vandalizes local churches.

Accused pig killer and vandal Ashley Marie Fowler.

Accused pig killer and vandal Ashley Marie Fowler.

“The woman accused of killing and maiming two pigs, then leaving one of the pig’s heads on its owner’s front porch last week is in trouble again. Police say 21-year-old Ashley Marie Fowler was arrested at her place of employment last Wednesday after they found evidence in her car linking her to a recent church burglary.”

Another key ingredient to this story comes a bit further down.

“On Monday, warrants were secured for Fowler for the burglary of Northwest Baptist Church. She now faces one count of burglary and one count of grand larceny in addition to two felony counts of killing/maiming livestock, one count of vandalism and one count of prescription pills.

So we have a young woman, seemingly abusing prescription narcotics, clearly suffering some sort of mental distress, allegedly acting out in a violent and confused manner. Barely covering her tracks, and allowing the police to easily track the evidence to straight to her.  This is the true face of most “occult” crime. The perpetrators of wantonly violent acts against Christian churches and animals. Troubled kids. Despite the mounting evidence that this wasn’t some sort of “Satanic” or “occult” crime, Animal Control officers and detectives are still “investigating” that possibility. Why? Because of “occult crime” experts who need for every animal death, every broken church window, every spray-painted pentagram to be connected to some illusory network of occult or religious practitioners. The men and women (but usually men, it must be said) who travel the country, spinning yarns about the “growth” of occult crime, who seemingly feel no remorse or sense of responsibility for their part in the last wave of moral panics that ruined the lives of thousands of people.

I know that human beings love a good conspiracy, and many media professionals spend a great deal of time giving the people what they want, but sometimes (to paraphrase Freud) a lone nut is sometimes just a lone nut. Or in this case, a troubled young person, is simply a troubled young person.  The more we allow law enforcement and animal control officials to be trained by these “occult” experts, the more “occult” crime they’ll see.

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Jason Pitzl-Waters


  • Cat_C_B

    Jason, your report here is pretty speculative, too. There's not much clear evidence of either drug abuse or mental illness here. Getting caught by the police might just as easily say "good police work" or "stupid criminal" as mental distubance, and stealing or having possession of stolen prescription medications can be about profit as well as abuse. Furthermore, the report doesn't specify that the drugs in question are narcotics.

    Is the theory that she might be crazy or drug addicted (or both) plausible? Well, yes… But it's not a slam dunk. There's not enough information here to draw a portrait of this woman; though the speculation that her motivations are due to occult involvement is irresponsible, I don't think we're yet in a position to confidently assert other motivations for her acts.

    • Jason Pitzl-Waters

      I never directly implied mental illness, I said "mental distress", which, had I (allegedly) decapitated one pig, mutilated another, and then ransacked a church, I would no doubt be experiencing some form of. I suppose someone doing all that could be completely sane and rational, but it would have to be a rather extraordinary individual.

      • Cat_C_B


        To-MAY-to, To-MAH-to, perhaps. I just think that it's good to be careful to have all of our facts in line when we go out debunking others' distortions.

        • Robin Artisson

          Why so sensitive about mental illness? I work around it every day. It's nothing to be ashamed of. To be clear, if she's beheading pigs, I'd rather think she's a little batty than to try and imagine she just beheads pigs rationally and calmly, with nothing at all cranking her up. If she COULD freely and happily butcher animals and make body part displays with them, all without the presence of mental illness, I think we'd have to invent a new species of lunatic for her, because that by itself would be fracked up beyond recognition.

          However, her "prescription med abuse" is a sorry cop-out. People have it in their heads that medications- even abused medications- are somehow on the level of heroin or meth, when they are not. And even heroin and methamphetamines don't make people just lose control of themselves and do things with no volition. Whatever people do- sober or not- is already seeded inside them, somehow, completely apart from intoxicants.

          • Cathryn Bauer

            "Whatever people do- sober or not- is already seeded inside them, somehow, completely apart from intoxicants. " I do agree, and it's my perception that the court system I work in does, as well. "My client was severely impaired by alcohol from his birthday party and had no understanding of his actions," will get a defense attorney laughed out of court. (Yeah, a few of them still try that now and again.) Well, court staff will restrict the laughter to times when the public is absent, but the judge will typically respond, "It's your client's responsibility not to get so drunk he doesn't know what he's doing."

      • argentwolfwing

        It seems ridiculous that people would equate "ritual" animal abuse and slaughter to followers of pagan faiths, since a tenet of most of our faiths involves respect for life in all its forms.

        Disregarding for a moment the pagan connection (or lack thereof) to such violence, disturbed individuals' actions toward animal, or any life, really, is a cause for sorrow. I seek comfort in my faith that life can retain its intrinsic value even after such atrocity, and that we can move beyond the violence, whereas it seems that those of the more "mainstream" faiths are just looking for a scapegoat and to shed blood themselves.

    • Christine

      The drug in question would have to be a regulated narcotic in order for them to charge her with illegal possession. It's not necessarily illegal to possess antibiotics or foot cream that is not prescribed directly to you. However, controlled and regulated narcotics must be in the possession of somebody who is licensesed to handle them OR the person to whom they were perscribed OR to that individuals designated care taker.

    • kenneth

      I've dated crazy chicks enough times to see it in someone's eyes. Those aren't the eyes of someone whose only problem is vicodin hustling or check kiting! I can't tell from here whether its uncontrolled bipolar or schizophrenia, but I'd bet the rent money it's one of the two and/or a history of serious abuse.

  • Crystal7431

    Yeah, leaving animal body parts lying around that you just butchered for the heck of it is not really the hallmark of a sound mind.

  • Nonsuch

    The research of Bob Altemeyer can be very useful to understand this issue. This research was an eye opener for me and had given me much continued food for thought. Is also very relevant to everyone who practices an alternative religion.

    There is a free download at:

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    I'll repeat in earnest the suggestion I made somewhat jocularly the last time this came up: A taxpayers' lawsuit from within the jurisdiction to bar "occult expert" animal-control training because it is religious opinion disguised as forensic sociology. The merits of the suit might be shakey but the idea is to make the whole thing so radioactive that the authorities steer clear of it henceforth.

  • Jennifer Parsons

    From the WAVY-TV 10 article:

    "Animal Control officers and detectives are investigating whether or not Fowler is affiliated with the occult or some type of satanic worship."

    *facepalm* I won't even get to how both those things are protected by the First Amendment (as opposed to burglary, theft, harassment, and abuse of prescription medication), which last I checked, did apply in Chesapeake, Virginia. And why would someone dabbling in "satanic worship" steal crosses from a church?

    This young woman probably self-styled herself as some sort of evil, anti-Christian, or Satanic entity– probably while high as a kite on whatever she was taking– which justified her stealing from and destroying the property of local churches.

  • Dennis Nock

    i agree we have to stop this nonsense by every means possible . i had hoped the sra stuff had settled down but appearantly not. i have personnaly contacted my local congress folks local and national , quess i'll have to contact them again . i also urge everyone else to do so as well . the lunacy will stop eventually , if we all do our parts to make our voices heard as the crazies who peddle this nonsense. Kilm

  • freemanpresson

    "And why would someone dabbling in 'satanic worship' steal crosses from a church?"

    Oh, that's easy. According to popular opinion, and in the practice of a few Renaissance Catholic anti-priests and later imitators, upside-down crosses and communion wafers are both quite useful adjuncts to Satanism.

  • Riverbend

    Hmm, for stabbing the babies and black cats I assume? ;)

  • Norse Alchemist

    Remember the days when leaving a pig's head on your neighbor's porch was a sign of good will and charity, and not a sign of "devil worshiping occultists?

    Pepperidge Farm remembers.

    Maybe you buy some Milano cookies, maybe this all goes away…

    On a more serious note, we're going to get crap like this till our numbers and power are big enough to stop it, or until a better target comes along. Sadly, I think we're some of the few acceptable targets left in society.

  • Gus diZerega

    I also recommend Altemeyer's work. It is very good and quite important.

  • harmonyfb

    Remember the days when leaving a pig's head on your neighbor's porch was a sign of good will and charity

    Mmmm, pig head.

  • Cat_C_B

    Thanks for a good laugh to start my day off right! "Maybe you buy some Milano cookies, maybe this all goes away…"

    May your day be filled with cookies, N.A. and may all of your pig's heads be friendly ones. *huge grin*

  • elnigma

    Especially Orange Milanos. Yum.

  • A.C. Fisher Aldag

    Liberal Pagan says: "Troubled Young Person". Conservative Pagan (me) says: "Criminal Psycopath".