Around 9:30 p.m. on Aug. 26, Marci Ballard completed a routine check of her Randle farm before going to bed.
Early the next morning, she awoke to find one of her goats laying down in its pen, completely unresponsive.
“I thought it was just her but then I went down and saw two of my goats, just not the rest of them,” said Ballard.
She soon found her missing goats lying beside the fence, all deceased. A return to the house revealed that Chester — a beloved 5-month-old rescue goat who was kept in a pen near the house — was also dead.
“It was personal with him (Chester) because I raised him from a day old,” she said.
In total, six of Ballard’s eight goats — along with some poultry — had died overnight.
Ballard requested that some details of the violent attack be withheld due to the ongoing investigation.
An autopsy was performed on one of the goats, which confirmed that nothing in the animal’s food or water had caused its death, and since more than one of the deceased animals had wounds that suggested they’d been killed by a person, Ballard suspects foul play.
“I feel like somebody came into my home and violated my safe space,” Ballard said. “It makes me angry that people would do something like that.”
Only two of Ballard’s goats survived the night of Aug. 26, but both were killed the following night in a wild animal attack — even though the farm had never had problems with wild animals in the past.
“We believe it was the smell of death that lured them in,” said Ballard.
“Those goats were everything to me,” she said. “I’ve lost everything that I’ve worked so hard to build up.”
The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office responded to Ballard’s farm in the 800 block of Peters Road around 9:15 a.m. on Aug. 29 and an investigation into the animals’ deaths is ongoing.
Ballard is offering a reward to anyone with information that leads to an arrest.
“I can’t afford much, but I’m going to put a reward out there and keep fighting,” she told The Chronicle. “I just want to find the person who did this and get some kind of justice for them.”
Ballard’s family has set up a fundraiser to raise money for the award. To donate, visit www.facebook.com/donate/210562954431646/. If no arrest is made, all money will be donated to Pasado’s Safe Haven, a nonprofit that investigates animal cruelty crimes, provides rehabilitation to abused animals and advocates for animal protection laws.
Anyone with information pertaining to the investigation is encouraged to contact the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office at 360-748-9286.