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Man’s eyes gouged out in neighbour dispute over victim’s loud rooster

A rooster is shown in this file photo from Apr. 24, 2020.
A rooster is shown in this file photo from Apr. 24, 2020. AP Photo/Matt Slocum

A West Virginia man allegedly killed his neighbour’s rooster before gouging out the older man’s eyes in a vicious dispute over the bird’s morning routine, authorities say.

Richard Wayne Ellison, 47, has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of Benny Foutch, 72, according to the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department.

He said Lucifer made him do it, according to the criminal complaint.

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Emergency crews were initially called to a home in rural Rock, W.V., on Sunday for a mental health evaluation, according to the sheriff’s department. Police were later summoned after the body of Foutch was discovered on the porch near his chicken coops.

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“The gouging out of his eyes appeared to be his cause of death,” Det-Corp. M.S. Horn wrote in a criminal complaint obtained by the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.

Horn added that there were “a large number of feathers which appeared to be from a chicken” near Foutch’s body.

Police identified Ellison as a suspect after speaking with his son and girlfriend, who both reported that he had been in an argument with the neighbour. The suspect allegedly told his girlfriend that he had killed the rooster and the neighbour, according to Horn’s report.

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The suspect allegedly described the killing in his interview with Horn.

“He went up there to kill the rooster because of a movie he had watched and because it was crowing,” Horn wrote in the criminal complaint, citing his interview with the suspect.

“He later explained that he pressed his thumbs into Benny’s eyes, he later advised that he stayed there until he knew Benny was dead,” the criminal complaint said. “He made a reference that Lucifer made him do it.”

The results of the suspect’s mental health evaluation are not known.

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Ellison was arraigned and a judge set a $200,000 cash-only bond. It’s wasn’t immediately clear whether Ellison has a lawyer.

The second-degree murder charge has not been tested in court.

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, please reach out. Resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.

The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Depression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.

With files from The Associated Press