The Mysterious Case of the Chicken Beheader

Voodoo is not a religion. It is sorcery. The voodoo “priest” is alone in his/her field. They have no congregations. Nor are their rites put down in written word. They pass their arcane knowledge to a successor they deem worthy. It is black magic.

We have made voodoo quite exotic.  It exists in the night. Only our imaginations give form to the darkness. We have made it the shadow in ritual killings in our favorite exotic crimes series.

In reality, who really can define it? There are no books Confessions of a Voodoo Priest. They don’t talk. Those that do probably aren’t voodoo priests.

They are consulted by those who believe in the dark arts and in the supernatural world. They control those who live in fear.

Some say zombies are real– the undead or the living dead. Supposedly one is created by a certain chemical substance, and the ritual begins. The voodoo priest then takes credit for supernatural power by claiming to have created the zombie. Power to curse is power over the fearful and simple.

Thus one must rightly consider the ramifications of the mysterious case of the chicken beheader. Such a person or person has vexed Sacramento, California, for a period of over a year. They have left beheaded chickens in brown paper bags by railroad tracks. Sometimes they were guinea fowl. Then it grew to a lamb, a goat, cow . . . things were getting nasty. The bodies were beheaded and completely bled. The head was set with the body or found alone. Sometimes there was a bloody dollar bill with them. Bags of chickens. Boxes. A couple of times they were left in parks.


“Afro-Caribbean” religion sounds nice off the top of the head. But it doesn’t fit. No ritual, such as that used in Santeria, requires leaving the bodies of sacrificial animals in locations where they are obviously meant to be found. It is hard to explain the symbolic meaning of leaving them by railroad tracks, but some were left in parks. Those were meant to shock the average curious citizen. The average curious citizen is not walking along railroad tracks.

Fear was naturally expressed by police investigators that this could be leading to more serious crimes. There are certain ways of killing people exclusive in origin to dark Caribbean nights. Was this a prelude? Was it a believer in the dark nights of the Carib? Were they responding to the advice of a local voodoo priest? To what purpose is there in sacrificing and draining so many animals ritualistically and then rather than quietly disposing of the bodies place them by railroad tracks?

It didn’t seem like religious practice, since the heads were being chopped off crudely with a saw. These were amateurs. Not butchers. Not experience ritual priests.

Once, only once a person, a petite woman, was seen by a security camera dropping off a bag by the tracks. The security camera was so poor, however, that not even the license of the white SUV could be picked up.  It stopped. So far.


Railroad, highway– Poverty Ridge, Sacramento.

It wasn’t religion. It hasn’t led to voodoo murder. It’s not the act of a voodoo priest. It seems someone acting under some instruction, the purpose of which we do not know.

This coming year it is perhaps best that we look at some of the locations and clues in this unusual case.


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