Summer 2013 Poultry Press NEXT
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Update on the Torture and Killing of a Turkey by Members of The University of Kansas Beta Theta Pi Fraternity, December 14, 2012


In the last issue of Poultry Press, Vol. 22, No. 4 (, we reported the brutal torture and killing of a turkey rented for a drinking party by members of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity at The University of Kansas on December 14, 2012. The turkey was described by Grand Marquis band leader Lisa McKenzie, who called the police, as a female bird weighing about 15 pounds.

Fraternity “men” kicked in the turkey’s cage and proceeded to chase her, throw her like a football, carry her upside down by her feet, squeeze her throat, and choke her by the neck. In the process of being attacked, the turkey’s wing snapped, then her leg snapped, and she began screaming, according to The Kansas City Star on Dec. 17, 2012 citing eyewitness accounts. The band’s trumpet player watched as a fraternity member violently shook the injured, suffering turkey by the neck until she died on the front porch of the fraternity house.

As we go to press, the Lawrence, Kansas Police Department has completed its criminal investigation and forwarded its report to the Douglas County District Attorney. According to the Office of District Attorney Charles Branson, the filing of criminal charges under Kansas Cruelty to Animals Statute 21-4310, which makes it a crime to “Intentionally kill, injure, maim, torture or mutilate any [vertebrate] animal,” is currently awaiting “a charging decision.”

turkey visitors oregon
Photo by Gay Bradshaw of turkey visitors at her home in
Jacksonville, Oregon, right after a spring rain, April 2013.

Meanwhile, University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little wrote to United Poultry Concerns on March 8, 2013: “I share your feeling that this incident is reprehensible and not what KU expects of its students.” However, she did not indicate what if any steps the University is taking to punish the students and prevent such episodes in the future.

On February 27, 2013, Justin Warren, Director of Beta Theta Pi Chapter Operations for the Beta Theta Pi Foundation & Administrative Office in Ohio, wrote to United Poultry Concerns President Karen Davis as follows:

Ms. Davis,

At this time, I am happy to provide you an update from the perspective of the General Fraternity on some of the things that have happened since the chapter’s activities were suspended in December. As you will see below, the internal investigation is complete and the chapter is in the process of holding members accountable for their direct actions in releasing the turkey from his cage that evening. The chapter is still working with authorities on whether or not legal ramifications will result from the event for any individuals. Therefore, there could be further developments if any further issues arise:

The internal investigation being conducted by a private investigator (in no way connected to the DA’s office) has recently been completed. Until we receive final word on sanctions given to individual members, the chapter has been placed under “Suspension” with limited privileges to operate as a chapter on KU’s campus. Judicial guidelines have been put in place that anyone who is found guilty of animal abuse by a court of law will be expelled from the fraternity. Any non-criminal wrongdoing may still result in punishment up-to and including expulsion.

There will be no live animals permitted at any future chapter events. In addition, Beta Theta Pi’s Board of Trustees is discussing the rewording of a statement currently in our risk management policy that prohibits chapter pets to include the prohibition of any live animal, regardless of campus affiliation.

The men will host a chapter-wide service project or fund-raiser with all proceeds going to a charitable society benefitting an animal related organization.

An animal rights/abuse speaker will be invited to the house for dinner and asked to execute a presentation with all chapter members.

More broadly, the men have made adjustments in their operations to reduce the chances that acts like this will occur again due to alcohol and have committed to increase member attendance at leadership development programs in hopes to avoid any instances of bystander apathy in the future. The chapter recognized the need for a number of these directives on their own and have worked very cooperatively with the General Fraternity to make these changes.



beta theta pi
what_can_i_do (10K)

First, we take this opportunity to thank our members for your outpouring of letters to the District Attorney, KU Chancellor, and Beta Theta Pi on behalf of the turkey who suffered and died helplessly at the hands of this fraternity on December 14, 2012. Please keep up the pressure!

  • Urge Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson to prosecute the turkey abusers to the fullest extent of the law under the Kansas Cruelty to Animals Statute, which makes it a crime to intentionally torture an animal. Demand justice for the turkey and punishment of these criminals.

  • Urge Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little to enforce strict policies prohibiting and penalizing animal cruelty at The University of Kansas. Merely “sharing our feelings” is not enough. Tell Chancellor Gray-Little you want to know exactly what steps the University is taking.

  • Thank Justin Warren for the specific steps he says Beta Theta Pi is taking to prevent future animal abuse by Beta Theta Pi members, including avoidance of “instances of bystander apathy in the future.” Please emphasize that while you are encouraged by Beta Theta Pi’s actions thus far, the issue of animal abuse should not be treated primarily as a problem of alcohol-fueled savagery. The fundamental issue is the fraternity’s character, policies, and attitude toward living creatures. This is the problem the Beta Theta Pi leadership must confront and correct through its ethical policies and procedures.


    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: 1-800-800-7591 (Justin Warren ext. 264)
    Fax: 513-523-2381 Email:

    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

Summer 2013 Poultry Press NEXT