Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Saint Paul Goat Sacrifice?

Of Minnesota's Twin Cities Saint Paul is generally considered to be the more dull and conservative sibling. Downtown Saint Paul practically shuts down after 8 PM and even by 6 PM much of the place is almost deserted, in contrast to the much larger and busier downtown of Minneapolis with its clubs, restaurants, and theaters. But the weekend before last a Saint Paul resident made a discovery that undermines the city's staid reputation - possible evidence of a goat sacrifice.

A woman walking in a St. Paul park Saturday made a gruesome discovery — a goat's head.

She called police at 5:15 p.m. to report the finding in Marydale Park. The head was in a paper grocery bag, just off a walking path.

The woman looked in the bag, saw the goat's head and phoned police, said officer John Keating, a department spokesman.

Police put the animal part in a freezer at the St. Paul Animal Control building. Animal Control is keeping it on ice for an investigation, said Angie Wiese, spokeswoman for the St. Paul Department of Safety and Inspections, which Animal Control is part of.

Animal Control will be investigating, in conjunction with police. For now, neither department has information about the circumstances of the goat's death or how the head wound up in the North End park.

Oddly enough, I lived in the North End neighborhood of Saint Paul for about 15 years before moving to my current home in Minneapolis. It's not a particularly high income neighborhood, but we never had much trouble with crime or anything like that and overall it was a nice enough place to reside for more than a decade. We only moved when it at last became clear that my growing family needed a larger home.

My house was only five or six blocks from Marydale Park and I've walked through there more times than I can count without seeing anything resembling a sacrificial occult rite. It's likely, of course, that the goat was killed elsewhere and the park proved a convenient but in retrospect perhaps unwise disposal site. Police investigating the head were able to trace it to a live market in Wisconsin a few days after it was found.

It was a pygmy goat, said Angie Wiese, spokeswoman for the St. Paul Department of Safety and Inspections, of which Animal Control is a part. A tag in its ear from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture traced it to a market, "but that's all we know," she said Wednesday.

Police and Animal Control still don't have information about the goat's death or how the head came to be in the park.

Investigators haven't been able to determine who purchased the goat from the market and continue to investigate, said officer John Keating, police spokesman.

If they find the person, he or she could be cited for illegal dumping or littering for leaving the head in the park, Wiese said.

"If there was something illegal about the manner that the goat died, that could be something separate," she said, "though people are allowed to slaughter animals for their own use."

If the head does turn out to have been severed in an occult ritual, maybe that means Saint Paul is finally coming into its own as far as weirdness goes. Even a few years ago, this would have been the sort of thing that only happened in Minneapolis.

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