Winter-Spring 2013 Poultry Press NEXT
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Students Tortured a Turkey to Death at a Fraternity Drinking Party
University of Kansas Beta Theta Pi Fraternity is Under Criminal Investigation
men of principle

On Friday evening, December 14, 2012, University of Kansas fraternity Beta Theta Pi, in Lawrence, rented a turkey for a fraternity house drinking party. A fraternity member kicked in the padlocked cage in which the turkey was confined. When the cage broke, the turkey was chased, thrown like a football, and choked by the neck. The Kansas City Star reported on Dec. 17, 2012: “When the turkey’s wing snapped, and then its leg, the animal began screaming, witnesses said.”

Witnesses said the brutality they observed was “nauseating” and “horrible.” Lisa McKenzie, whose blues band Grand Marquis was hired to play at the party, begged a fraternity member, who she said was “carrying the turkey down the steps upside down by her feet while squeezing her by the throat,” to give her the turkey, but was told it was none of her business. The band stopped playing and called the police.

The KU Beta Theta Pi complaint is under criminal investigation. The National Beta Theta Pi parent organization has put the KU fraternity on suspension. KU fraternities are governed by the campus’s Interfraternity Council which will do the initial investigation using information from the police. The University of Kansas has influence over the Council. University Relations told Lawrence activist Judy Carman, “We’re not going to let this go away.”

naragansett turkey
Narragansett turkey hen.

Kansas Cruelty to Animals Statute 21-4310 defines Cruelty to Animals as “Intentionally killing, injuring, maiming, torturing or mutilating any [vertebrate] animal.” (Wantonly, that is, as opposed to abusing animals for “legitimate” purposes.)

A key word in the anticruelty law is INTENTIONAL. The fact that the fraternity rented the turkey for a drinking party shows their intention to put this bird in a destructive situation certain to cause injury or death to her by intoxicated students. By all accounts, Beta Theta Pi members rented this helpless, unoffending bird in order to make her suffer.

In phone conversations with United Poultry Concerns, McKenzie said the turkey appeared to be a Narragansett female weighing about 15 pounds. She said the band’s trumpeter, Chad Boydston, watched the turkey die on the front porch of the fraternity house. The turkey was not killed “to end its suffering,” as police were told at the scene. Boydston described the fraternity member holding the turkey by her neck and shaking her violently until she was dead. McKenzie said the fraternity’s violence was unbelievable. She said, “You could see the fear in the turkey’s face.”

what_can_i_do (10K)

Urge Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson to conduct a thorough criminal investigation and, as findings warrant, to prosecute the offenders to the fullest extent of the law. Witnesses who called the police from the fraternity house told them exactly which students they observed torturing the turkey.

Urge the National Beta Theta Pi organization and the KU Interfraternity Council to investigate the complaint and discipline the KU Beta Theta Pi fraternity in keeping with findings of intentional animal cruelty at the drinking party. Urge adoption of a Fraternity Code of Ethical Conduct prohibiting the presence of nonhuman animals at all fraternity functions. The Code should also include enforceable standards of humane conduct for Beta Theta Pi and all fraternities. Animals should be banned from all fraternity functions. Violations should mandate expulsion of the fraternity from the campus and its parent organization.

Urge University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little to adopt and enforce strict policies prohibiting and penalizing animal cruelty at The University of Kansas. Penalties should include expulsion of students and failure to graduate. Urge Chancellor Gray-Little to adopt a Code of Ethical Conduct for all campus residents including students, faculty and other staff, showing the leadership that is needed to prevent animal cruelty in the future. Nonhuman animals should be banned from all campus social functions as these functions almost always involve alcohol and other substances and conditions likely to put a defenseless animal in danger.

An example of faculty attitudes that contribute to cruelty and disrespect toward animals was reported in The Kansas City Star Dec. 27. Jim Lichtenberg, Associate Dean of the School of Education, received an email from an Indiana resident, Jennah Dibiase, deploring the turkey’s mistreatment. Instead of a sympathetic reply, he sent an email “that made fun of the whole animal abuse incident and used a slang term describing masturbation.” He later said his message was meant only for his colleagues and was copied to Dibiase by mistake. Fortunately, Dibiase shared his message with the newspaper. She said: “The dean has a doctorate degree. He’s educated. He should be outraged. But the way he responded makes me think of him as a thug.” A university spokesperson responded, “The disrespectful levity used in this email does not reflect the opinions or actions of the university on this issue.” Let us make sure The University of Kansas means business.


District Attorney Charles Branson
Douglas County DA’s Office
111 East 11th St, First Level
Lawrence KS 66044
Office: 785-841-0211
Fax: 785-832-8202

Justin Warren, Director of Chapter Operations
Beta Theta Pi Foundation and Administrative Office
5134 Bonham Road, PO Box 6277
Oxford, OH 45056
Phone: 1-800-800-2382, ext. 264
Fax: 513-523-2381

univ of ks logo

IFC Executive Board
Interfraternity Council
University of Kansas
1301 Jayhawk Blvd
Room 424, Kansas Union
Lawrence, KS 66045
Phone: 785-864-4643

Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little
Chancellor’s Office
The University of Kansas
230 Strong Hall
Lawrence, KS 66045-7518
Phone: 785-864-3131
Fax: 785-864-4120

To view UPC’s correspondence with these offices, go to, and click on Turkey (Allegedly) Tortured by Students at Fraternity Drinking Party: Take Action! 21 December 2012.

Winter-Spring 2013 Poultry Press NEXT