Police tape

They thought it would be funny — dumping four deer carcasses and a dead rabbit in a woman’s yard was just a prank, a group of Abbeville teens told state officers, according to a report.

On Dec. 6, Abbeville High School head football coach Jamie Nickles said some of his players were involved with a situation that led the state Department of Natural Resources to file 36 charges against a group of teens. The agency charged four male teens with night hunting, road hunting, shining, littering, trespassing and deer tag violations. As all four are younger than 17, DNR officials wouldn’t release their names.

Law enforcement became involved when on Dec. 2 Abbeville’s E-911 received calls from one man who heard shots fired outside his house, then two calls from people who discovered the animal carcasses.

The first call came in at 12:17 a.m. Dec. 2, where a man living on the 300-block of Noble Drive called to say he and his wife were awoken by the sound of gunfire.

“All of a sudden we heard a gunshot right outside almost in front of our house,” he said. “At first I was kind of stunned to hear it, and by the time I got over there to the window there was people outside of the truck ... with flashlights, looking around.”

He said he saw the truck parked across the road from his house, but after hearing the shot and seeing the flashlights he went downstairs to get his pistol. He didn’t know what was happening, but soon heard the truck driving off, he told dispatchers.

“They may have pulled up to that stop sign and spotlighted a deer, shot it and thrown it up in the truck,” he said to the dispatcher, “but I told my wife just to put our minds at ease we need to go ahead.”

Later, at 8:56 a.m. that morning, a caller from the 600 block of Pecan Road expressed his disbelief to dispatchers after seeing the animal carcasses.

“My neighbor has got four deer, four dead deer, laying in their yard, and a dead rabbit,” he said. “Definitely a game warden and a deputy, somebody needs to come out here and check this out. This is the weirdest thing we’ve ever seen in our life.”

That day, a DNR officer went to the residence where the animals were found and spoke with the woman who lives there. She said her neighbor told her about the carcasses, according to a report. Officers found several different sets of boot prints in a nearby muddy area, along with what appeared to be drag marks.

The woman told officers she believed this situation was connected to something that took place at Abbeville High School that involved a relative of hers.

The officer went Dec. 3 to the high school, finding a pickup truck in the parking lot that had blood on the rear steps and in the truck’s bed. He later spoke with a boy at his home and asked where he was that Saturday night, the report said. The boy said he was at someone else’s residence and didn’t go anywhere else that night, and also said he didn’t hunt deer.

After the deputy asked why there was blood in the boy’s truck bed, he said he had shoot a deer at night. He said he drove several others around to spotlight deer, and after they all shot deer they decided to place them at the Pecan Road house as a prank.

Other teens the officer spoke with corroborated the story, saying they shot the deer and rabbit and made the decision to take them to a specific house.

“He advised that there was no reason why they took the animals there, besides they thought it would be funny,” the report said.

The 8th Circuit Solicitor’s Office could not comment on the status of the charges the teens are facing because they are juveniles.

News of the teens’ charges came the day before Abbeville High School won the 2A state football championship game, and although three of them were facing charges they showed up for the game.

District Superintendent Betty Jo Hall declined to say whether any of the students were disciplined by the district, citing their status as minors.

“I have had no contact at all with DNR — they don’t have to follow up with me or with the district because it happened off school grounds,” she said. “I’m not free to talk about any students that are minors, whether any kind of discipline did take place.”

Contact staff writer Damian Dominguez at 864-634-7548 or follow on Twitter @IJDDOMINGUEZ.