Four farm animals — a goat, a kid, a calf and a chicken — were slashed by an unknown assailant late Saturday or early Sunday at the Kidwell Barn, a popular family attraction at Frying Pan Farm Park in Fairfax County.
The livestock attacks came one month to the day after a similar incident in which three horses were found with slash wounds on their flanks at an adjacent farm.
Despite the proximity of the bizarre attacks, police said they are unsure whether the incidents are linked.
“We just don’t know,” said Lucy Caldwell, a county police spokeswoman. “That’s something that our detectives as well as animal control officers are investigating.”
Sunday visitors to Frying Pan who looked closely at the furry heads inside the barn could glimpse the toll of the latest slashings. Henry, a calf born at the farm earlier this year, had three gashes on his head, the largest dressed with staples. A mother goat named Scandal bore similar injuries, as did an unnamed baby goat. The slashed chicken was recovering in private quarters.
The injured animals stayed away from the gates of their pens Sunday, mostly avoiding outstretched hands. Ordinarily, the animals crowd around visitors, angling for treats. Police said the calf and kid are bottle-fed and would have approached anyone if they thought it might mean a meal.
B’Lynn Munn, a Loudoun County parent whose children volunteer at the farm, said the attacks have horrified and mobilized the 4-H community. Several people have offered to provide security for the barn.
“People are just disgusted,” Munn said. “I’m just hoping Fairfax County police are taking this seriously and realize that this shows all the signs of a psychopath.”
Farm staff discovered the injured animals about 8 a.m., when they arrived at the barn for feedings. The attacks are thought to have occurred between 5 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. Sunday while the farm was closed, Caldwell said.
She asked for the public’s help in identifying a suspect or suspects.
“Maybe somebody driving by might have heard something and pulled over,” Caldwell said. “Maybe somebody saw an unusual vehicle, saw someone driving away.”
Police have not identified a suspect in the horse slashing. In that attack, three horses were slashed at the Spirit Open Equestrian Program, in a barn that is adjacent to Frying Pan but not on park property. That attack happened between 9 p.m. April 26 and 9:30 a.m. April 27. The farms sit on the same stretch of West Ox Road in Herndon.
The horses suffered long, deep gashes on their sides, apparently made with a knife or similarly sharp object. Although their injuries were serious, the horses survived.
The injuries to the animals at Frying Pan were shorter gashes, mostly on the animals’ heads, police said. Citing their ongoing investigation, police did not disclose the nature of the chicken’s injuries.
Frying Pan is a working farm operated by the county and part of the Floris community in western Fairfax. It preserves the rituals of a mid-20th-century farm, with cow-milking, wagon rides, a carousel and a country store, giving suburban children a taste of their great-grandparents’ lives.
Some parents explained the attacks to their children in hushed tones. Others said nothing and went about the business of petting, pointing and posing for pictures.
“Why would anyone want to do that?” said Linda Rudgers, shaking her head, as grandson Ryan, 2, clambered onto a wooden bench to look inside the pen.
Munn, visiting with her two daughters, coaxed the injured kid toward her hand for a gentle scratch: “I know, sweetheart. I know.”
“These are sweet, loving baby animals that kids come to see,” Munn said. “It looks like this person must have gotten the easiest targets.”