PARIS (Reuters) – Two people suspected of killing and mutilating horses across France have escaped a manhunt launched after a horse owner near Dijon sounded the alarm, and their trail is turned cold, police said on Monday.
Police launched a major search operation in eastern Côte-d’Or, involving 40 officers and a helicopter, after a man spotted two people in his pasture on Saturday night, but the suspects escaped.
“The operation is over, now we are investigating our findings. For now, there is no clue, ”said a police spokesperson.
The murders involve the mutilation of the bodies of animals, which are often found with severed ears, gouged out eyes and severed genitals. No meat is ever taken from the carcasses.
From the beginning of the year to the beginning of August, there had been a dozen cases across France, but in recent weeks, and despite intense media attention, murders and mutilations have multiplied and the French media reported more than 20 murders.
Police released a facial composition of a suspect, a male, and advised horse owners to monitor their meadows daily, not to leave halters on horses in the field, and install cameras if possible. He also called on owners to report any suspicious behavior near horse pastures.
Later Monday, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin and Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie will visit a horse breeder in the Oise region north of Paris where horses have been attacked. They will meet with horse breeders and investigators and discuss plans to stop the attacks.
Police said they had no idea what was behind the attacks and that it could be a satanic rite, a grisly trophy hunt or an internet challenge.