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Kansas police believe dog attacks, including beheading, are related; reward money at $40K

Police are looking at what appears to be a pattern: all three dogs either went missing or were found dead within a three or four block radius. The most recent two attacks both happened in December.

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Kansas dog attacks.
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Police believe the recent attacks on three dogs in a southeast Kansas town are related.

The last time a crime in Parsons, Kansas, got this much media attention was the 2013 quadruple homicide of a mother and her three children, Sgt. Jason Ludwig, a spokesman for the police department in Labette County, told The Kansas City Star on Tuesday, Jan. 25.

The southeast Kansas town of about 10,00 people drew national attention in early December when a police officer reported that her 3-month-old German Shepherd named Ranger had been found decapitated in her backyard while her patrol car was parked out front.

A few weeks later, a child discovered a dog wrapped and tied up with a blanket and left beside a bridge. The local animal hospital determined the dog, whose name was Drako, had been tortured by a human.

Earlier in the year, a dog named Blue was found shot in the same area. That dog lived, Ludwig said. In what police believe was an unrelated incident, a dog named Zeus was shot and killed in March, prior to the other three attacks. An arrest was previously made in that case.

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"Whenever something strikes fear into citizens of the heartland, people are like 'Oh my gosh, really? What kind of crazy person's living in this town?'" Ludwig said.

Ludwig, whose been with the department for 13 years, said they believe the most recent three attacks were related.

Police are looking at what appears to be a pattern: all three dogs either went missing or were found dead within a three or four block radius. The most recent two attacks both happened in December.

Drako went missing from the 1300 block of South 13th Street, near the backyard where the officer's dog was found in the 1400 block of South 14th Street.

Both dogs were killed in horrific manners.

"Officers determined that the puppy had its head sliced off with a sharpened blade at another location and then the suspects returned the body to the backyard," Ludwig said shortly after Ranger's death.

Later, an autopsy determined Drako had likely been strangled and beaten to death, police said. They believe the dog suffered severe trauma to the underside of its abdomen as well as trauma to its neck from a choke chain that was still on him when he was found.

"We don't have a lot of heinous crimes like this, but whenever we do it, really, it gets the attention of media," he said, adding that a recent national media spotlight on the crimes has led to "unfathomable" outreach.

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After the officer's puppy was found dead, the department pulled together $1,000 in reward money in the hopes it would loosen up lips.

As of Tuesday, they were at nearly $40,000 in reward money. This includes a $5,000 donation from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Ludwig said the growing reward pool has raised some eyebrows. Crimes against people don't often draw this much attention. He believes it has to do with sympathy for pets' defenselessness.

"The two biggest victims that garner this much support are those that are helpless," he added. "And most of all, that's animals and small children."

The community has come together to up the reward ante. But community members have also banned together to keep a closer eye one another's pets, especially if they are let outside. Meanwhile, officers are encouraging pet owners to report any signs of viciousness towards animals.

While no arrest has been made, the department is continuing to interview persons of interest, Ludwig said. So far they've been ruled out as suspects.

While he can't reveal much about the investigations, Ludwig remains hopeful they'll eventually make an arrest.

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©2022 The Kansas City Star. Visit at kansascity.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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