A Northern Virginia woman has been accused of sacrificing as many as 12 to 15 chickens each week in her townhome in suburban Sterling, Virginia.
Mercy Carrion was arrested May 5 after a confidential informant working with Animal Control officers witnessed her slaughtering the chickens, according to the Loudoun Times-Mirror, which first reported the charges.
Carrion was charged with three misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals, the Times-Mirror reported.
Authorities believe the sacrifice was part of a religious offering.
"It's one of our more interesting cases,” said Officer Patrick Breslin of Loudoun County Animal Control.
“Any time we see any sort of violence with any animals it’s alarming for the community," Breslin said. "But this one in particular is a little more alarming.”
The details of the case are disturbing. The informant told Breslin that Carrion would carry out the sacrifices on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday of each week at her home in the 100 block of Sherwood Court.
In some instances - while the chickens were still alive, Carrion would bury the chickens in the back yard, or burn them.
Breslin said authorities seized two cauldrons from the home, as well as instruments that he described as "various animal torturing devices."
The Times-Mirror reported that Animal Control officers saw blood spatter on the walls of Carrion's living room.
Neighbors described hearing the chickens frequently. "Every morning," said neighbor Aurora Gutierrez.
"The fact that these animals were killed in an inhumane manner -- that's what we’re focusing on here," Breslin said.
But there was one piece of good news: As police searched the home, they found one rooster still alive. The rooster is now at the Loudoun County Animal Shelter until a court decides what’s next for him.