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Saturday, Sep 16, 2006County: Cambria
» David Richard Sebulsky
» Brian John Bloom
» Joseph Michael Stefanowski
Case Updates: 5 update(s) available
Central Cambria football players and other teens stole and brutally killed two lambs, an Internet revelation that swept through the district Monday.
Parents and students reacted with rage and disgust in calls to the newspaper.
Central Cambria Principal Ken Bussard said that, although he knows about the incident and who was involved, it is not school-related and no one will be disciplined.
"It's no different from when a kid would shoplift something from Wal-Mart," he said Monday.
"We're involved in a lot of things, but we're not parents. It's not a school issue," he said.
The slaughter took place late Sept. 16, said state troopers at the Ebensburg barracks.
The theft of two lambs was reported by a farmer along Cunningham Road in East Carroll Township, and the lambs were located in a wooded area along Winterset Road, state police said.
"Said lambs were skinned out with parts missing," according to the state police incident report.
The East Carroll Township farmer who owned the lambs has settled the case privately for restitution and criminal charges will not be pursued, state police said. The farmer's wife declined to comment on the incident.
Now, just days before Central Cambria's homecoming weekend, a gruesome report of the animal killing, presumably written by students protesting the action, is posted on a popular Web site frequented by teenagers.
Included in the bulletin on MySpace.com is the accusation that the football players bragged that they videotaped the slaughter, and that two of them were allowed to be nominated for homecoming honors despite their actions.
Parents contacted The Tribune-Democrat and said their children told them they were being asked for money to help pay restitution for the dead animals.
Principal Ken Bussard dismissed that charge as "complete bunk" and said that the sheep slaughter was being exaggerated.
"If a parent chooses to call a newspaper rather than the principal, that's their problem," he said.
"The boys involved are not just football players," Bussard said. "I have talked to the parents of these individuals, and that's all I can do. Our function is to educate kids.''
He said the football players would not be benched as a result of their actions.
Bussard was wary of the account posted on the Web site.
"But I'm not going to tell you what the truth is," Bussard said. "I can only talk to parents about their own kids."
The bulletin posted on MySpace.com is graphic about the slaughter and the alleged bragging, and critical of school officials and police for not taking action.
The Web site, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., often is monitored by parents and law enforcement officials as a window into the teen world.
|Three high school students accused of slaughtering two lambs on a lark will spend up to 23 months on probation in a program for first-time offenders.|
In all, eight Central Cambria High School students were charged in the incident Sept. 16 in East Carroll Township, but five were minors so the charges against them were not made public.
David R. Sebulsky, Joseph Stefanowksi and Brian J. Bloom, all 18, were accepted into the first-time offenders' program by a Cambria County judge yesterday. If they complete the probation without incident, their criminal records will be erased.
The students chased, killed and butchered the lambs and were charged with theft, defiant trespass and animal cruelty, among other crimes, state police said. They have already repaid the farmer for the lambs.
|Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - April 18, 2007|
Update posted on Apr 18, 2007 - 4:29PM
|Three Central Cambria High School students, all 18 years old, will stand trial in Cambria County Court on criminal charges in the thrill-kill of two lambs.|
The case outraged the community and even drew national attention.
Brian J. Bloom of Cambria Township and Joseph M. Stefanowski and David R. Sebulsky, both of Ebensburg, have waived a preliminary hearing on the charges.
The hearing was set for Tuesday before District Judge Fred Creany. His office said Thursday that Stefanowski, who is represented by Ebensburg attorney Kevin Persio, waived the hearing Jan. 18.
Bloom, represented by Ebensburg attorney James Stratton, and Sebulsky, represented by Carrolltown attorney Kenneth Sottile, waived on Jan. 23.
All three are charged with cruelty to animals, theft, conspiracy and criminal mischief, all misdemeanors, and a summary charge of criminal trespass.
In addition to the three students who are adults, five others who were juveniles at the time also faced juveniles charges.
Under state laws, the juvenile court proceedings, including the identity of the juveniles, remain confidential.
The state police charged that the eight students chased, killed and then butchered the lambs on Sept. 16 in East Carroll Township. The remains were discarded later that same night elsewhere.
The state attorney general's office is prosecuting the case. County prosecutors had asked the state to step in after learning that a staff member's child reportedly was involved in the slaughter.
|Source: The Tribune-Democrat - Feb 1, 2007|
Update posted on Feb 5, 2007 - 4:36PM
|State police have charged eight Central Cambria High School students – three 18-year-olds and five juveniles – in the lamb slaughter that outraged the town and drew national attention.|
Charged as adults are David R. Sebulsky of Ebensburg, Brian J. Bloom of Cambria Township and Joseph M. Stefanowski of Ebensburg.
All three are charged with criminal mischief, trespass, criminal conspiracy and cruelty to animals.
Sebulsky turned 18 just one day before the Sept. 16 lamb killings.
Bloom is the son of a Central Cambria teacher, Richard Bloom, and Stefanowski is a member of the Central Cambria football team.
The names of the five juveniles are confidential, and charges against them will be handled in separate, confidential documents, state troopers said.
The filing of charges caps two months of controversy and a monthlong investigation by the state Attorney General's Office, which now will follow through with prosecution of the case.
School officials said the criminal charges will not affect the district.
"We've spoken with the students involved, we've investigated and taken action, and it's now in the hands of other authorities," said Schools Superintendent Susan Makosy.
The state police charges seem to contradict various versions of the lamb-killings publicly told by parents of the accused, including one that the boys were coyote hunting and were "charged'' by sheep.
State police documents filed with District Judge Frederick Creany describe the incident this way:
"The (defendants) were traveling in two vehicles on Cunningham Road in East Carroll Township. The (defendants) observed lambs in a fenced field belonging to David Shoemaker.
"The (defendants) exited the vehicles and entered the fenced field and chased down two lambs and killed the lambs," the statement says.
"The (defendants) removed the lambs from the field. The (defendants) took the lambs and skin and butchered the lambs in a wooded area. The (defendants) then discarded the remains of the lambs in a wooded area on Winterset Road."
The farmer who owned the lambs accepted restitution from the young men, and some worked on his farm to pay him back.
But the public outcry continued, with many calling for school discipline and a criminal prosecution.
On Oct. 3, county prosecutors turned the case over to the state Attorney General's Office after learning that a staff member's child allegedly was involved with the slaughter. The AG's office will follow through as prosecutor in the case.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 2:15 p.m. Dec. 19 before District Judge Frederick Creany at district court offices, 401 Candlelight Drive, Ebensburg.
|Source: The Tribune Democrat - Nov 16, 2006|
Update posted on Nov 16, 2006 - 11:06AM
|The state Attorney General's Office is investigating whether criminal charges should be filed against teens who allegedly stole and slaughtered two lambs in East Carroll Township.|
Cambria County District Attorney Patrick Kiniry has referred the investigation to the state office to avoid a possible conflict of interest in the case, which has become a scorching debate among Central Cambria School District residents.
"Last Wednesday, I learned one of the alleged perpetrators is a child of one of the people who work for my office," Kiniry said. "I called the attorney general's [regional] office in Pittsburgh because I thought we shouldn't be involved in it.
"Contrary to popular belief, we don't get involved in every investigation that occurs in this county ... but we want to do this so there's no appearance of a problem or conflict," Kiniry said.
Facing pressure from residents, Central Cambria officials also have taken action in the matter but are keeping the punishment private, citing confidentiality.
At least eight teenagers - all of them Central Cambria students - apparently snuck onto a East Carroll Township farm Sept. 17, corralled two lambs and killed them.
A farmer reported the livestock stolen but then quickly settled the matter with the teens and their parents, state police said last week.
He was reimbursed $500 for his loss and withdrew charges.
But while state police closed the case, stories began to spread throughout the district about what happened.
Some residents have urged the school to punish the students. They've accused the school of protecting them because they are athletes, popular or from influential families.
Superintendent Susan Makosy said reports of the incident spread to administrators about a week after the theft.
District officials said little about it the first few days afterwards, mainly because of the "difficult situation" it presented, she said.
The incident occurred over a weekend and off school grounds.
Later, administrators learned it included a growing list of students with varying degrees of involvement. Some are in school activities and some aren't, she said, noting that students can lose privileges for poor conduct.
Action has been taken against eight students, three of them football players, Makosy said. Administrators have met with each of them and their parents, "and we have been assured that they are being disciplined appropriately at home."
The students have been referred for counseling, but citing confidentiality, Makosy did not elaborate about any possible school-related punishment.
"When it comes to matters of school discipline, we've always protected the students' privacy," she said. "Students are punished all of the time."
But Makosy said the school does not condone what happened, and that no matter what the facts are, the incident has become a distraction.
There has been debate among students, and off campus, it's worse, she said, pointing to nearly 50 e-mails from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a well-known animal rights group.
"People are incensed," Kiniry said, adding that he also has been fielding calls from across the country - many from animal rights activists. "We're not getting involved. I don't want there to even be an appearance of a conflict.
"We'll let someone totally independent look at it."
Kiniry said he first learned about the incident through news reports Sept. 26.
He began handing over the investigation to the Attorney General's Office the next day when he found out one of his three dozen staffers has a child who may be involved.
An explanation and request had to be sent in writing, Kiniry said. On Monday, he was told the state had taken over.
"It's probably the best way to go," Makosy said of the news.
The lamb story has taken on a life of its own - one where fact and fiction are blurred, she said.
The state investigation "will start from ground zero" to determine if enough evidence exists to warrant charges, attorney general spokesman Nils Fredricksen said.
"Criminal prosecutors and agents from our Bureau of Criminal Investigation are involved," he said. "Our goal in every case is to make a determination as timely as possible. We don't set timetables ... and obviously, just because there is an investigation doesn't mean a determination of guilt."
Fredricksen said conflict of interest referrals are common. The second, and less likely circumstance, occurs when a district attorney's office doesn't have the resources to handle a investigation.
In many cases, investigators turn cases over to avoid public perception that there are ties to the case.
"We probably deal with hundreds every year," Fredricksen said.
|Source: Altoona Mirror - Oct 7, 2006|
Update posted on Oct 23, 2006 - 5:08PM
|A Cambria County mother said teens beat farm animals to death during a hunting trip.|
The mother of one of the accused says the teens admitted to killing two lambs. The parent of one of the teens addressed rumors in the community, saying the incident was not a satanic ritual and was not school related.
Central Cambria School Officials said, "The school district only has the authority to impose discipline on students when the alleged misconduct occurs on school property or under district supervision."
According to the parent and school, several teens went coyote hunting over the weekend, but were unsuccessful. On their way home, they were surprised by two sheep that came charging at the group.
The startled teens beat the farm animals with a firearm and field-dressed them.
The parent, who doesn't want to be identified, said, "They did and cut them up, but just as they would have if they were hunting, they felt it was a sin to waste the meat and they didn't know what to do."
Channel 6 News found out the teens involved apologized to the farmer and made restitution. They are to work on the farm to pay off the rest of the debt to the farmer.
|Source: WJAC - Sept 26, 2006|
Update posted on Sep 28, 2006 - 12:28PM
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