Thursday, June 13, 2002

Florida: Randall Konarik, 34, beat and tortured a peacock to death

FLORIDA -- A man has been charged with animal cruelty on the suspicion that he killed a peacock, then cut off the bird's wings, claws and feathers and stuck the carcass in his freezer for a later meal.

Randall Jude Konarik, 34, of 1220 Palm St. was arrested Monday morning on a charge of cruelty to animals. He was being held at the Pinellas County Jail on Tuesday afternoon in lieu of $10,000 bail.

Clearwater police on Saturday received a report that Konarik had captured a peacock in Dunedin, then brought it to his home, tied it to a brick and killed it.

When police talked to Konarik, he told them he struck the bird in the head with a rock, then kicked it. He told police he then picked up the bird by its wings and feet and carried it 2 miles to his home, an arrest affidavit states.

Konarik told police the bird struggled during the walk, which he said "caused the bird to die from heat exhaustion a few hours later," an arrest report states.

Konarik said the death was accidental and occurred while he was trying to relocate the bird.

Once the bird was dead, Konarik removed the bird's wings, claws and some of its feathers. When asked why, he told officers: "Because that's what hunters do," the arrest report states.

He then skinned the bird and placed it in his freezer to eat later, police said.

It was unknown exactly where in Dunedin the bird was captured.

Peafowl have recently created some controversy in one north Clearwater neighborhood. Some residents have tried to remove the birds, complaining they are noisy and messy. That hasn't gone over well with other neighbors who enjoy their beauty.

"I'm in shock to say the least," said Susan Sander, one of the peacock lovers. "To me, animal cruelty is equal to a person. They're God's creatures. I'm so saddened."

Though the birds are very pretty, some who live in neighborhoods where they roam don't appreciate their harsh squawks, particularly during mating season, which is around May. The birds also are known to tear up flower gardens, and even to peck at cars when they see their image reflected.

The birds have lived in the area of the Clearwater-Dunedin border since the 1920s, when there was a peafowl farm there. The birds were raised for their tail feathers, which were a popular fashion item.

When the farm folded decades ago, many of the birds were simply let loose. They have strutted the area ever since.

Rick Chaboudi, executive director of the Humane Society of North Pinellas, said he has never heard of someone killing a peacock, then saving it to eat.

"I have never heard of anyone ever hunting peacocks," he said. "You can't just execute them or mutilate them or things like that."

Full name: Randall Jude Konarik
Sex: Male
Race: White
DOB: 11/10/1967
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 160
Hair: Brown
Eyes: Green
Address: 2108 Palmetto St, Clearwater FL 33765

APRIL 24, 2011 UPDATE:
Randall Konarik is dead.

Konarik was riding his bike across US 19 N and East Bay Drive when he was hit by a car and seriously injured, Tuesday.

Officials said the bicyclist was riding against the traffic signal when he was hit by Skylar Martz, 26, of Largo, who was driving a 1994 Nissan Sentra. Martz was traveling eastbound on East Bay Drive through the intersection when Konarik came into his lane in a southbound direction, officials said.

According to Largo Police, witnesses said Konarik was crossing the intersection outside the crosswalk and against the traffic signal at 10:04 p.m. when he was hit.

(St. Petersburg Times - June 12, 2002)