The murder of a rooster in a small city in Mississippi has sparked outrage, outpourings of adoration, promises of revenge, and murals in memory of the animal.
The bird, known as Carl, was a mainstay on the streets of Ocean Springs – a scenic city of 18,000 on Mississippi’s Gulf coast.
He was known to strut about town, spinning a regular route that involved a morning stop at the local bagel shop, sips of water at a few coffee shops and even a visit to classes at the fitness center.
The rooster was personable and friendly, approaching people and posing for photographs, and nestling down for naps on regular railing perches throughout town.
But Carl was snatched from his perch before being killed by a female corrections officer and later dumped in a parking lot.
Carl the rooster (above, center) astride one of his favorite perches in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. His murder shook the coastal city which is still in mourning
Security footage implicated Kendra Shaffer, 35, a corrections officer at the ones County Juvenile Detention Center. She was filmed snatching Carl and dumping his body later
Carl was a common sight around downtown Ocean Springs. One of his favorite places to visit was the donut shop, where he would have some water and sometimes a bite to eat
Carl (left) was always ready to pose for photos with people (right). He readily approached anyone and everyone, and was a friend to all
‘[Carl would] wake up and mosey around town and get a bagel at the bagel shop,’ Matt Stebly, an Ocean Springs tattoo artist, whose parlor Carl called home, told the Washington Post, ‘He had his rounds that he would visit every day.’
‘He was iconic,’ Stebly said, ‘Larger than life.’ But on a morning in late April, Carl the rooster’s crow was heard never more.
Stebly arrived at his shop on April 25 and saw no sign of Carl. When the chicken didn’t turn up for days the search was begun in earnest, and Stebly came across surveillance footage showing Carl being snatched from his perch at 3am on April 24 by a woman in the company of a gang of men.
The woman in the video was Kendra Shaffer, 35, a corrections officer at the Jones County Juvenile Detention Center – which is two hours away.
Footage from Biloxi, a city just west of Ocean Springs, showed Shaffer dumping Carl’s dead body in a parking lot about 15 minutes after the attack.
Carl’s cause of death is unclear, but Shaffer was issued a misdemeanor citation for animal cruelty, Captain Ryan LeMaire of the Ocean Springs Police Department told the Washington Post. She was also fired from her job at the detention center.
Security footage from April 24 showed a large group of people approaching Carl, and a woman snatching him up off a his sleeping perch. The woman was later identified as Shaffer
Separate footage showed Shaffer dumping Carl’s dead body in a parking lot in the neighboring city of Biloxi. His exact cause of death is unknown
Shaffer was handed a misdemeanor citation for animal cruelty, and was fired from her job at the detention center
About an hour after Carl’s death, footage shows a man collect Carl’s body and walk off after placing him in a plastic bag. The location of the remains are unknown, and Stebly has offered a reward for information leading to their return.
‘We were trying to plan a little second line for him,’ Stebly said, referring to a New Orleans-style musical parade, ‘I feel like it would be a little more special if we had his body.’
Why Shaffer did what she did to carl is not clear, but her actions and the loss of Carl have brought about a deluge of mixed reactions in Ocean Springs.
‘Carl was so much more than a rooster. He was an icon,’ local artist Carli Rob told WLOX as he brushed strokes on a mural he is painting downtown in memory of Carl, ‘He was a pillar of the community.’
Carl’s death was met with an outpouring of support from the community. Carnations and memorials were left at his favorite places to visit in town
Hand written notes were posted on windows and doors throughout Ocean Springs, sending love and well wishes to the deceased bird
Elsewhere in town memorials sprang up, with hand written cards and carnations being laid in the many perches and places Carl would frequent.
Reactions to Shaffer’s crime have been virulent.
Former Ocean Springs mayor Connie Moran wrote in a Facebook post that she felt Carl’s killer was evil.
Sharing a tattoo he had designed in Carl’s honor, the owner of the tattoo parlor Carl called home, Matt Stebly, vowed vengeance upon Carl’s killer
The Downtown Ocean Springs Facebook group posted a memorial to the rooster upon news of his death
‘[Carl] was a SENTIENT BEING who did absolutely nothing to provoke his demise. He was sleeping!’ She wrote, ‘I have to believe that most people are good, but it really only takes one evil person.’
Stebly vowed revenge while sharing a Carl themed tattoo he had designed.
‘I promise I will ruin the people that where involved.’ He wrote.
Rob said he did not feel that Shaffer’s loss of employment was enough compared to what she took from Carl.
‘Jobs come and go, but a life, we only get one run at this life, you know, his life was taken short.’