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Arrest warrant has been issued by Linden police for Leonard L. Edwards, Jr., 41, of Wharton on charges of unlawful possession of a weapon and animal cruelty, for needlessly killing and mutilating a live animal. / Courtesy of Linden Police Department

LINDEN, N.J. ?? Police have issued an arrest warrant for a 41-year-old New Jersey man on charges related to the decapitation of chickens in a cemetery in this outlying suburb of New York City.

Leonard L. Edwards, Jr., 41, of Wharton faces charges of unlawful possession of a weapon, a fourth degree crime, and animal cruelty, for needlessly killing and mutilating a live animal, said Linden police Captain James Sarnicki.

Sarnicki said that at 4 p.m. on July 31, Edwards was seen using several machetes to decapitate and kill several chickens in the Rosehill Cemetery on Routes 1 and 9. He then placed the dead animals by some gravesites and smeared blood on the headstones, before fleeing the cemetery in his car.

Based on evidence left at the scene and information obtained during a weeklong investigation by Linden Detective Michael Burnette, an arrest warrant was obtained for Edwards, Sarnicki said.

Conviction of a fourth degree crime can result in a sentence of up to 18 months in jail and $10,000 in fines. Animal cruelty is a disorderly persons offense resulting in a lesser penalty.

Investigators believe the incident was some type of religious or cultural ritual, Sarnicki said.

Anyone with information on Edwards or this case is asked to contact Burnette at (908) 474-8535 or email crimetips@lpdnj.org.



Copyright 2014USAToday

Read the original story: Arrest after chickens decapitated in N.J. cemetery

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