Satanic link to Cornwall horse mutilation investigated
Police investigating the mutilation of a horse in Cornwall have said they "cannot rule out" a link with a Satanic ritual.
The stallion was found dead in a field in Stithians on Monday with knife injuries to its head and body.
The attack, which happened shortly after St Winebald Day - a date on the Satanic calendar - has prompted speculation of a ritualistic killing.
"Obviously that is one line we're going to pursue," Insp Chris Strickland said.
But he added it was not "the only line" officers were investigating.
The officer from Devon and Cornwall Police said he was aware of discussions on internet forums linking the killing to a Satanic ritual and, although it was a "strong possibility", he insisted police also had other leads.
Mr Strickland said he was keeping an open mind on the subject.
"I have done my own research on the internet and there are people out there who have these beliefs and so that is a strong possibility, but there are other leads we have got as well and other possibilities or motives," he said.
The horse was attacked between 16:00 GMT on Sunday and midday on Monday.
The horse's owner, Dawn Jewell, said she was devastated by what had happened to the horse she had raised from a foal.
Her mother, Vivien Allaway, said they were both "well aware" of rumours and speculation about Satanic links.
"It's not based on fact, but it's plausible so we can't dismiss it," she said.
Insp Strickland said the force was taking the killing seriously.
"If they able to do that to a horse, what else are they capable of doing?" he said.
"There's a rural community out there who are going to be very worried and frightened by what's happened."
Initial post-mortem tests on the two-year-old stallion named Erik were carried out by a vet at the scene and a full forensic examination will be conducted.
A Devon horse lover has offered a £2,000 reward for information leading to the capture of the attacker.
Graham Rickard said: "It's a poor defenceless animal and it's a sick crime. I hope they get caught."
Animal lovers, including the BBC horseracing presenter Clare Balding, have been making their feelings of horror known in large numbers via Twitter.
Maureen Rolls, of South West Equine Protection, said it was the worst case of horse mutilation she had seen in 30 years.
"It's appalling. We have had cases of cutting the hair on manes and tails, but this is beyond that.
"I can't understand how anyone could do this."
Dyfed-Powys Police have confirmed they are investigating an attack on a pony in Carmarthenshire on 5 January which saw the animal suffer similar injuries to Erik.