Fears are growing that a Satanic-style cult is roaming a national park after sheep and cattle were found slaughtered and sprayed with pentagrams.
In the space of five days there has been a spate of apparently cult-inspired attacks on animals within a few miles of each other in Hampshire’s New Forest National Park.
Two sheep were found fatally stabbed and marked with pentagrams, three cattle were brutally knifed to death, a heifer was injured and a church was sprayed with Satanic symbols.
The mysterious incidents have all taken place over the last week causing serious concerns for residents and farmers.
Two sheep were found fatally stabbed and marked with pentagrams in Hampshire’s New Forest National Park
Police are investigating the ‘unusual’ attacks, three of which happened in the quiet village of Bramshaw.
Judy Rudd, who has lived in the New Forest for 40 years, was out walking her two dogs in Bramshaw when she came across the dead sheep.
Mrs Rudd said: ‘It had purple and green aerosol symbols sprayed on it. It was a pentagram and a cross. It had been stabbed to death. The wounds were in the side of the body by the rib cage.
‘It was very unpleasant… Some people think it’s sinister.’
The mysterious incidents have all taken place over the last week causing serious concerns for residents and farmers
Her husband Julian added: ‘I think it’s reasonable to say it’s not just lads messing about. The owner’s very cut up about it and very worried.
‘There’s a certain amount of concern, it’s unnerving – we’ve lived here 40 years and there’s been nothing like this before.
‘I don’t agree that it’s done to shock – you don’t go around knifing animals simply to shock people.
‘It’s related to something other than simply a desire to injure animals – it’s either witchcraft or whatever. It’s rather worrying.’
Reverend David Bacon, vicar at St Peter’s Church in Bramshaw, suggested the spate of killings could be a result of ‘witchcraft’ or ‘black magic’.
Rev Bacon said: ‘People are concerned. I’ve been here 15 years and seen a lot of stuff, but nothing like this.
Police are investigating the ‘unusual’ attacks, three of which happened in the quiet village of Bramshaw (pictured)
‘It could just be kids, but I don’t think it is, given the context.
‘There’s been witchcraft round here for hundreds of years – the New Forest is well known for witchcraft and black magic happening, and this has obviously gone up a level.
‘The symbol drawn on the sheep is a Satanic symbol, that’s quite well known.
‘It could be kids, but I don’t think it is.’
Jessica Sloley, 79, who lives near the church, said: ‘We don’t know who did it. I have no idea who would be capable of letting a sheep bleed to death.
‘I think it’s outrageous. Whether it’s just somebody being wicked, I don’t know.’
The farmer whose heifer was stabbed said: ‘I’m very concerned for my animals. I’ve also got a grandchild and we’re out and about in the dark.
In the space of five days there has been a spate of apparently cult-inspired attacks on animals within a few miles of each other in Hampshire’s New Forest National Park (pictured)
‘It’s quite scary to know that somebody’s going around doing this.
‘Why injure and kill animals and put symbols on them?
‘I think it’s more than one person. I reckon it’s a group of people.’
A farmer from Bramshaw, whose heifer was injured and required veterinary treatment, said: ‘I went out in the morning to let them in and I’ve seen this abrasion on the side of its neck.
‘Obviously I was quite concerned so I studied it and called the vet to find out what happened.
‘It looked like a stab wound and after what’s been going on in the village after the last few days I was very concerned about the situation.
‘I’m very concerned for the welfare of the animals and the people out there in the forest.
‘People should be very vigilant and keep their eyes out for anything that they think is suspicious because it’s quite concerning.’
Days later, the part-12th Century St Peter’s Church, also in Bramshaw, had been sprayed with an inverted cross and the number ‘666’ painted on the door.
Reverend David Bacon said: ‘I’ve been told one of the symbols was a 666 which of course is a biblical sign of the devil, or Satan, so it could have [sinister overtones].
‘The only security we have is people’s eyes and ears.’
Three calves were also found brutally stabbed in nearby Linford.
Tony Hockley, chair of the New Forrest Commoners’ Defence Association, warned the attacks will have a profound impact on the community for years to come.
He said: ‘We look out for each other. There are 700 commoners always looking out for each other and each other’s animals.
‘Things like this will deter people from carrying on the tradition of grazing animals on the forest and that hurts everyone.’
Sergeant Andy Williams, of Hampshire Constabulary’s Country Watch team, said: ‘These incidents are unusual in the New Forest. We are looking at the circumstances of each one to see if they are linked, and to see how these animals came to be injured.
‘We would also urge anyone who uses the Forest, including Commoners, to be vigilant. Please contact us if you see anything suspicious.’
Animal charity RSPCA today said: ‘We are very concerned about how these animals died so would urge anyone with information to contact police who are investigating.’
Residents of the New Forest have long been associated with livestock, having common rights dating back to the 13th Century to allow their animals to graze in the open forest.