Posted by: Loren Coleman on May 27th, 2008
A former neighbor of a Durham, North Carolina, man convicted of his wife’s murder claims the death was not caused by a human, but rather by an aggressive owl.
Larry Pollard claims his deceased neighbor Kathleen Peterson was killed by an owl attack in December 2001, not by her husband, novelist Mike Peterson, who is serving a life sentence in prison for the crime, the Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer reported on May 26, 2008.
Kathleen and Mike Peterson, in happier times.
Pollard, who formerly worked as a lawyer, said he has spent years gathering information that indicates Kathleen Peterson’s wounds were caused by an owl, not by assault with a fire poker. He said that despite repeatedly informing the media of his theories, he has not presented his ideas to the Durham district attorney.
“I want it to be the best I have,” Pollard said.
Even novelist Mike Peterson couldn’t have come up with this plot.
Durham District Attorney Jim Hardin, who led the prosecution of Peterson, said he has heard of the owl theory and discussed it with medical examiners. He said they dismissed the idea.
We don’t have to reach into the archives to read about Mothman or Mark A. Hall’s giant owl “Bighoot” (detailed in his Thunderbirds: America’s Living Legends of Giant Birds) to get some confirming insights on this one.
Owls do infrequently attack people.
For example, Hollywood Park in San Antonio, Texas, had a rash of owl attacks in September 2007, with at least four people left bleeding by the encounters. The four victims were all attacked by an owl while walking late at night or in the early morning, either in the 500 block of Rue de Matta Street or at the Voight Center.
The 18-inch-tall owl with a 35 to 40-inch wingspan first attacked at 8:25 p.m. on September 10, 2007, when the owl lacerated a resident’s head in the 500 block of Rue de Matta Street. The male victim reported that the owl struck him twice, and then he sought out cover in a nearby home, where he waited for his wife to pick him up.
The bird, described as a white owl with brown spots, then attacked a female victim at the Voight Center on El Portal Street one night in the same week. The woman, who did not leave her contact information with police, said that she was whacked in the head, then shone her flashlight to see the large owl flying to attack her again, and ducked. On Sept. 18 before 8 a.m., the owl struck a third time, drawing blood on the head of a 13-year-old boy on his way to school on Rue de Matta Street.
In British Columbia, barred owl attacks are a commonplace event. Around Labor Day, in September of 2006, Coquitlam’s Mundy Park joggers were frequently being attacked. Aside from Mundy Park, the region’s barred owl hot spots are the woods around the University of B.C. campus, Stanley Park and Campbell Valley Regional Park in Langley. The B.C. Ministry of Environment’s records show a rash of barred owl attacks on humans in 2001 in Victoria, Nanaimo and Vancouver, all of them in or near parks.
The literature is filled with people being attacked by owls if they are wearing fur (like raccoon or muskrat) on their heads.
The joke in wildlife management is that “owls don’t care if their squirrels are human.”
Even some outrageous theories may hold a kennel of truth. Still, it is merely a theory, without proof to the courts.
Snapshot of a killer?