Investigative Policy

I retired from the FBI in May 1979 and shortly afterwards assumed the role of director of investigations for Operation Animal Mutilation. At that time I had little knowledge about livestock mutilations, although I had read accounts of the phenomenon in the newspapers. However, right at the outset I decided to be very guarded in my comments to the media, a policy I had adopted during my years as an FBI agent. I do not believe that a professional investigation should be subject to possible influence by the media. Since Operation Animal Mutilation was a law enforcement investigation, I believed it wise to adopt a similar policy.

Also, I did not want to inadvertently furnish incomplete, erroneous, misleading or irresponsible information to the public through the media. After reviewing a collection of newspaper clippings, I felt that too many irresponsible statements had already been made about livestock mutilations. I also learned that in other states, the media had played a major role in alarming ranchers and farmers to the point where some of them had formed vigilante committees. I did not want this to happen in New Mexico as the result of any remarks made by me.

Because of the beliefs associated with the phenomenon, I also felt that if it were reported I was investigating a "mutilation" -- and not knowing how each individual perceived the word "mutilation" -- the public might interpret that statement in terms of their own preconceived notions. Moreover, I wanted to see how the media would cover incidents without the benefit of my comments. In other words, I wanted to see if the media, itself, was a part of the problem. Most reporters, I believe, are sincerely concerned with accurately conveying the facts to the public; but in the case of livestock mutilations, who knew what the facts were? This is what I wanted to determine before any information was released to the media. Now that the investigation has been completed, I believe the public has the right to know my conclusions as well as the evidence on which they are based. This, then, is the major objective of this report.

s11 For the sake of brevity, the term "human-induced" mutilation will be used to designate those mutilations performed with the aid of knives or other sharp instruments.