Clarendon County Sheriff Randy Garrett said Wednesday he is not going to stop or slow down his investigation into the deaths of more than 300,000 chickens throughout Clarendon County until the suspects are caught.
“When we nab them, I’m going to let the world know,” Garrett said. “If we keep this in the media people are going to start talking and someone may slip up, and we will get the missing piece of the puzzle we need.”
Garrett said after receiving reports of 16 farms throughout the county being attacked, his sheriff’s deputies stepped up patrols around the farms and notified other farmers to be prepared for anything.
Although several tips have come into the sheriff’s office regarding the case, Garrett said none have shown promise yet. But, sheriff’s deputies and investigators are taking each tip seriously and pursuing it to the fullest.
The suspects could be former or current employees of Colorado-based Pilgrim’s Pride, the nation’s larges poultry producer, according to Garrett. All of the farms attacked so far are contract farms associated with the company.
“You don’t want to exclude anybody,” Garrett said. “But, one thing that everyone knows is that you have to have a lot of knowledge on how (the chicken houses) work.”
Many of the farms that have been attacked had the alarm systems – which notify the farmers of any changes in temperature in the chicken houses – rerouted, something that a person without knowledge of the industry probably wouldn’t be able to do, Garrett said.
Even though many of the farms attacked have their own security surveillance systems in place, the only thing recorded on them are Clarendon County sheriff’s deputies’ patrol vehicles, Garrett said.
If anyone has information regarding the attacks, call Crime Stoppers at 1 (888)-CRIME-SC or the Clarendon County Sheriff’s Office at (803) 435-4414.