The dead baby goats left tied to wood pieces during a church service had their necks broken, a Lodi animal shelter employee said Tuesday.
There was no outward sign of mutilation to the three goats, other than a pinkish mark on one goat's head, said Animal Services Supervisor Diane Barney. She acknowledged that it could have been from what police believe was a purple felt-tip pen that was used to mark on the wood.
Police had no updates on possible suspects, two days after the goats were left on the lawn at United Congregational Christian Church, 701 S. Hutchins St. It was unknown if there was any connection between the church and the incident, which included words like "Holly" and "Ghost" written on the stakes used to hold up the small goats.
"We're a very opening and welcoming congregation," said Pastor Jack Dawson.
The goats' legs were attached to the pieces of wooden dowel by wires and plastic zip-ties. The goats hadn't been dead long, Dawson said.
The goats still had remains of umbilical cords attached, so someone is missing three kid goats - one brown and two white.
They were only about a foot high at the shoulder, Dawson said, and he speculated that's why nobody driving down well-traveled Hutchins Street called police to report the pranksters. The goats were left on the north side of the church, which borders Tokay Street, and people in the congregation discovered them after the service ended around noon.
Suspects soughtAnyone with information on suspects, where the goats came from, or any people seen at the church between 10:30 a.m. and noon Sunday may call Lodi police at (209) 333-6727. Anonymous callers may contact Lodi-area Crime Stoppers at (209) 333-6771 or (209) 369-2746.
Roughly 75 people were at the service, which starts at 10:30 a.m.
"We've been a church that has really seen no graffiti, no hate signs on our property. The graffiti has been limited to one time on a door that I'm sure was kids being kids," Dawson said. "It wasn't even real slang or swear words."
Unless things change, such as getting new information on the suspects' intentions, Dawson said he doesn't want it to be overblown. He plans to talk about it with the congregation, and any other church members who have concerns, but he hopes it's an isolated incident.
The goats were placed in the animal shelter's freezer as evidence, where they may remain as long as necessary, Barney said. If suspects are found, further testing could be done on the goats.
"I hope they died quickly," said Barney, who was obviously disgusted and upset after looking at the goats' carcasses.
"I hate to think of them suffering, but if (the goat killers) didn't get it right the first time," she said, her voice trailing off.