UPDATE, 4:17 p.m.: After this post was published, the Outpost spoke with the man who neighbors suspect of posting the Craigslist ad. See the bottom of this post for details.
“The job is simple … “
So began the ad posted to Craigslist on or around June 13. It appeared in the “wanted” section under the title “Someone to get rid of a peacock,” and it specified “by any means necessary.”
The unidentified author of the post complained that the animal had been waking him at dawn with its noisy call. “The bird came here about 4 months ago, no one knows from where, and no one here owns it,” the post claimed.
Included with the listing was a crudely annotated satellite image of McKinleyville’s Azalea Heights neighborhood with detailed instructions on how to locate the animal.
“Please contact me so we can form a strategy to eliminate this bird, and also to agree on how much you will be compensated,” the ad read.
On Wednesday, the peacock was found dead, covered in blood with an apparent gunshot wound in its lower breast. The news of his death spread quickly among the small group of neighbors who had loved and cared for the bird over the past few years. Those who’d seen the Craigslist ad immediately suspected who the culprit must be.
Melissa and Mike Glass say the peacock, who they named Azul, adopted them about six years ago when he showed up at their house on Melissa’s birthday. The vibrantly plumed bird kept returning to their property, roosting in nearby trees and coming in close to receive bits of bread.
“He comes for the company but stays for extra treats,” Melissa told the Outpost on Thursday. The bird’s death was so recent that in describing his habits, Melissa and Mike kept switching between past and present tense.
“He taps on our sliding glass window,” Mike said. “We gave him bread.”
Kelsey Radant and her daughter knew the bird, too. They’d often see him when they went to visit Kelsey’s father, Ben, who lives in Azalea Estates, a seniors-only mobile home park just up the road from the Glasses’ property.
“It was a very communal peacock,” Radant said in a phone interview Thursday. “It makes the rounds and says hi to everybody.”
Radant’s dad and other residents of the mobile home park called the bird Mr. P. Her daughter called him Peony. Several park residents had grown very attached to the bird, including one elderly woman who regularly fed him cookies. “My dad fed him sourdough bread every morning,” Radant said.
Mike Glass said one of the trailer park residents, a woman named Meredith, found the peacock’s body in her yard early Wednesday morning and immediately headed over the the Glasses’ property to tell them the news.
“She ran over and could barely talk,” Mike said. He went over to her place and inspected the area, finding a large amount of blood on the roof and more in the yard where he eventually fell.
“It’s really sad,” Melissa said. “It looks like he was up there for a while.”
Mike inspected the body and found an entry wound but no exit wound. He suspects it was shot with a .22 or other small-caliber gun. “The bird just bled out slowly for a couple hours,” he said.
Remembering the Craigslist post, the Glasses checked to see if it was still online. [CORRECTION: The Glasses learned of the Craigslist post while speaking with neighbors after the bird’s death.] It had been deleted, but on Facebook they found that a friend had linked to the ad days earlier, preserving the title and the satellite image that accompanied it, and they noticed a telling detail in that image: a little blue place marker hovering above one of the houses.
When you search Google Maps with location services turned on, it automatically places that little blue indicator above your own location. And if you’ve saved your home address on your device, Google Maps will indicate the location with a home icon.
Mike and Melissa Glass knew exactly which house was indicated in that Craigslist ad, and they know who lives there — a man who they’ve had issues with in the past, including arguments about the peacock.
“He knew it’s ours,” Melissa said. The man had approached the Glasses and another neighbor last month to ask if they’d be interested in relocating the peacock.
“We all said no,”Melissa said, though she added that at one point Mike offered some alternate solutions, which the man declined rudely.
The man also reached out to neighbors via email and in person, describing himself as an “animal lover” but seeking a solution to the bird’s morning clamor. If he was indeed the author of the Craigslist post calling for the peacock to be eliminated “by any means necessary,” then he was lying, the Glasses said, because the ad refers to the bird as “a wild peacock” belonging to no one when this man knew full well that the bird had been around for years and was loved by neighbors.
“He’s kind of the community mascot,” Melissa said.
[Note: The Outpost is choosing not to reveal the man’s identity unless and until we can get his side of the story, or if he gets charged with a crime. We managed to reach his former employer Friday morning, and a woman there said she’d text him and have him call. We’ll update this story if we hear back from him.]
Radant came across the Craigslist post last month while browsing the site, which she does regularly, and when she realized the ad was calling for the death of Mr. P she took screenshots and forwarded a link to her dad. On Thursday she said her dad is now very upset.
“He feels really responsible, like he should have done more when [we saw the post] — called the sheriff then,” she said. “We didn’t think anybody would do it, but we were wrong.”
Here’s text from the screenshots Radant took:
Several of the neighbors did call the authorities on Wednesday after the peacock was found dead, but it’s not yet clear what laws were broken, if any.
“It’s a really sticky situation,” Melissa Glass said, “because when [Mike] talked to Fish and Game [meaning the local office of the California Department of Fish & Wildlife], they asked, ‘Was it your pet? Do you have a cage for it?’”
The Glasses do have an enclosure of sorts that the bird used, though it lacks a roof. That was by design. They figured it was safer for Azul to roost in the nearby trees, which he did. “We get bears out here,” Melissa explained.
Peacocks are not protected by the state’s fish and wildlife laws. The CDFW has no regulations regarding trapping, selling or killing them. However, the agency’s website does caution people, “Check with your local animal control as peacocks are domestic animals.”
Mike said he spoke with someone at the sheriff’s dispatch center who also asked if the bird was caged and upon finding out that it wasn’t said, “There’s really nothing we can do.”
But he and other neighbors have pursued the matter, and the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office has gotten involved.
“We have a deputy looking into it and will be doing some follow up today,” spokesperson Samantha Karges told the Outpost via email on Friday. “Depending on the facts of the situation, if the peacock was found to indeed be shot, whoever [is] responsible could face charges of discharge of a firearm near a residence and even animal cruelty if the peacock was shot out of malice.”
Melissa isn’t especially hopeful about the killer being brought to justice. “I talked to a deputy last night,” she told the Outpost via email on Friday. “It was discouraging because while he said we may make a case (although he didn’t think strong), he was pretty transparent that it would be a lower priority [given] the backlog of cases … .”
The Glasses also contacted an attorney who told them they could maybe file a civil suit, but it would be limited to monetary damages.
Mike said the incident has left neighbors worried about their other pets. “Like, what if they have a dog that [this neighbor thinks] is too loud?” he said.
Melissa remains distressed about the whole incident. “It is appalling to me that there are no consequences for someone taking a hit out on our pet,” she said. “And the person who lives under that map marker knew very well that it was loved by many.”
Karges said that if anyone has information about this case, they should contact the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 and reference incident #2106300068.
UPDATE: As noted above, shortly after this post was published we managed to get in touch with the man whose house appears to be indicated in the now-deleted Craigslist ad. His name is Ragen Tilzey.
We’d left him a voicemail saying we wanted to ask about the peacock that had been found dead in his neighborhood. When he called us back he asked us to confirm that the peacock was indeed dead. We said yes and asked if that was news to him.
“Yes, it is,” he responded.
We then described the Craigslist ad and told him that neighbors could identify his house in the image. Did he post the ad?
“Well, let me ask you a question,” he replied. “Has a crime been committed?”
We said we didn’t know whether a crime had been committed and again asked if he’d posted the Craigslist ad.
“I’m not answering anything unless you can tell me if a crime has been committed,” Tilzey said.
We explained that the Sheriff’s Office is investigating the matter and said that a crime may have been committed if a firearm was discharged in a residential area.
“I don’t own a firearm,” he responded.
Okay, but the ad appeared to be recruiting someone else to shoot the bird.
“If a crime has been committed then I’m consulting an attorney,” Tilzey said. “I believe that would be prudent.”
We mentioned that neighbors reported having disagreements with him about the peacock in recent months.
“Legally that’s called circumstantial evidence,” Tilzey replied.
He then said we don’t have permission to identify him or quote anything he said. (Reporters don’t need permission to quote people, especially if they’ve identified themselves as reporters.)
We asked a few more questions but he declined to offer more information.
“Again, I’m not answering any questions,” he said. “Thank you for your questions, and I’m hanging up now.”
And hang up he did.