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Man accused of goat killings: ‘People may have been next victims’

Staff report

EL DORADO COUNTY, CALIF. – A man who allegedly admitted to strangling 10 Nigerian dwarf goats at a ranch in Shingle Springs, Calif., told investigators if he had not been caught, he might have started killing people, according to police reports.

“It’s probably a good thing that you caught me now,” said 22-year-old Ryan Troyer, according to the report. “I might have started killing people. I’m not saying that I wanted to or had any plans to. I’m just saying.”

Meanwhile, animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has asked District Attorney Gary Lacy to require Troyer to undergo psychoanalysis followed by mandatory counseling and be banned for life from contact with animals.

“Mental health professionals and top law enforcement officials consider cruelty to animals to be a red flag,” reads the letter to the DA’s office from PETA researcher Dan Paden. “The American Psychiatric Association identifies cruelty to animals as one of the diagnostic criteria for conduct disorders, and the FBI uses reports of these crimes in analyzing the threat potential of suspected and known criminals. Experts agree that it is the severity of the behavior – not the species of the victim – that matters.”

Troyer, a Folsom, Calif., resident, was arrested early March 19 at his workplace in Cameron Park, Calif., hours after he allegedly told his ex-girlfriend that he had strangled her family’s goats.

His arraignment was March 21 and at that time the El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Jerald M. Lasarow bumped his bail from $150,000 to $1 million and also ordered that Troyer not “own, possess, care or be around animals.”

The family first believed a mountain lion was killing and dragging off the prize-winning Nigerian dwarf goats, valued at $500 to $1,000 each, according to the Mountain Democrat. The family called out the county trapper three times to look for the mountain lion and put up an 8-foot electrified fence around the goats’ area on their property off Green Valley Road, but the goats kept disappearing.

In addition to the 10 goats killed, he said, three others were injured.

Frustrated with the losses, the family moved the remaining goats (kids and impregnated females) into the garage. On the night of March 18, Troyer’s ex-girlfriend walked into the garage to find Troyer petting a goat, according to an El Dorado County sheriff’s report.

As she entered the garage, the goat ran from Troyer, which aroused her suspicion.

Troyer then allegedly confessed.

When approached by deputies at the Circle K on Cameron Park Drive at 12:30 a.m. on March 19, the report states that Troyer at first denied knowing what happened to the goats but later admitted to killing them.

“I got issues,” Troyer allegedly told deputies.

Troyer explained that the first goat was “a mistake” and things escalated from there, according to the report.

He was dating the daughter at the time of the killings. They reportedly broke up a couple weeks prior to the arrest.

The report states that Troyer also told deputies, “I just acted on what I was told to do inside and something inside told me to choke them. It’s an urge.”

Animal control is assisting the sheriff’s department in the case, recovering some evidence, according to Chief Animal Control Officer Henry Brzezinski. The animals’ carcasses were found in different areas of the county, including a residential neighborhood in Camino, Calif., and in a graveyard near Union Mine High School.

• Noel Stack, city editor at the Mountain Democrat in Placerville, Calif., contributed to this story.