Oregon farmer 'was eaten by his own pigs'

Oct 2, 2012

Dentures and body parts of Terry Vance Garner were discovered by a relative in his farm's pigsty

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IN A scene reminiscent of Thomas Harris's serial killer film Hannibal, a 69-year-old farmer in Oregon, US, is thought to have been eaten by his own pigs.

Terry Vance Garner, a former serviceman who served in the Vietnam war and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), was last seen when he left his farm in Riverton to go out to feed his swine, some of which weighed in excess of 700lb, the Associated Press reports.

An unidentified member of Garner's family went to look for his relative several hours later, concerned at his disappearance, and discovered the farmer's dentures and parts of his body in the pigsty at his small farm.

Investigators believe that Garner may have suffered from a heart attack or had some other health problem while tending to his swine, and been knocked to the ground, killed and then consumed by his own animals. A pathologist has yet to ascertain the farmer's cause of death.

"For all we know, it was a horrific accident, but it's so doggone weird that we have to look at all possibilities," Coos County District Attorney Paul Frasier told The Register-Guard, suggesting that local authorities were considering whether foul play was also a possible cause of death.

Garner's brother Michael, 75, said his brother had told him that one of the sows had bitten him last year after he had stepped on one of its piglets. “He said he was going to kill it, but when I asked him about it later, he said he had changed his mind,” Michael Garner told The Register-Guard.

He added that his sibling had been a "good-hearted guy" for whom the animals "had been his life".

John Killefer of the Animal and Rangeland Sciences Department at Oregon State University said the incident was "very unfortunate" and highly unusual. Noting that domestic pigs are not known as aggressive animals, like their feral cousins, "there is some degree of danger associated with any animal."

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No big shakes. Pigs are omnivorous, I was raised in a farming area 50 years ago. A dead chicken used to be thrown into a sty and guzzled down in no time. Stories of strange disappearances were legion down through the years. This sounds like one of the same. A pig's bite is to be feared.