JACKSON TOWNSHIP — A Tannersville couple allegedly dumped a severed cow head at a Hindu man’s property in Jackson Township hoping it would scare the victim into moving away, according to court records.
Ricky Strausser, 25, and Kimberly Ann McKee, 19, both of Tannersville, allegedly committed the hate crime in March after attending a gathering of residents who were angry with Dr. Sansar Sastri, who runs Lakshmi Cow Sanctuary from his 90-acre property on Possinger Drive, records show.
According to a criminal complaint:
State police at Fern Ridge were dispatched to Sastri’s home on March 20 after someone dumped a cow head near the front of the property.
Sastri told police he began living on the property about a month. The property is also used as a sanctuary that houses 20 cows that had been rescued from abuse and slaughter. Signs outside also identify the property as a sanctuary.
The victim told police the cows are viewed as a symbol of life in Hinduism and can never be killed.
He said he had talked to his neighbors about his religion and the protection of the cows and learned that many did not agree with his beliefs. He said some of his neighbors own cows for slaughter.
Because of the victim’s religious beliefs, police began a hate crime investigation.
During the investigation, police learned that a cow at a nearby farm had been slaughtered by its owner on March 18 and someone stole the cow’s head. The owner didn’t realize the missing head until the hate crime made the news.
Police later learned that the day before Sastri found the cow head, there had been a gathering of residents and friends who were angry that Sastri moved into the area.
Police interviewed some of the people who attended the meeting and learned that they conspired to get the head of the recently slaughtered cow and dump it on Sastri’s property.
Those at the gathering said they were upset because Sastri blocked off trails on his property for his cows. Police said those at the gathering felt that by placing the cow head on his property, it would scare him into leaving. Some thought it would be funny if the victim found the cow head, panicked and forced him to count his own cows.
Strausser and McKee left the meeting, according to court records, took the cow head and drove to Sastri’s property. Strausser dumped the head at Sastri’s property and cleaned the blood from the bed of the truck the next day.
The two were later interviewed and confessed, police said. McKee said she knew what they did was wrong and considered it a hate crime, court records show.
Besides ethnic intimidation, Strausser and McKee were also charged with harassment, loitering and prowling at night, criminal trespassing, disorderly conduct, scattering rubbish and criminal conspiracy.
They were both charged by summons.