Ritual Feared in Mill Valley Animal Killings

Two Bay Area women were arrested Thursday afternoon for felony animal cruelty in connection with the killing of four chickens in the Mill  Valley area, Marin County Sheriff's Office officials said.
Shantell Herndon, 29, of Berkeley, and Beverly Wheeler, 33, of San Francisco, posted $25,000 bail Thursday and will appear in court June 1,  sheriff's Sgt. Debra Barry said.

Four chickens, whose necks were cut, were found around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in a drainage ditch at Fern Creek on property in the Marin  Municipal Water District off Panoramic Highway west of the Throckmorton Ridge  Fire Station, Barry said.

Evidence believed to be connected to the chicken killings was found in a 2008 Toyota Prius at the scene, Barry said. Herndon and Wheeler  are associated with the Prius, Barry said. Sheriff's deputies also found a  knife.

Barry would not disclose what Wheeler and Herndon said to deputies or whether investigators believe the chicken slayings were part of a  religious ritual. Animal sacrifice is practiced by some followers of the  Santeria faith.

A felony animal cruelty charge carries a three-year maximum prison sentence, Marin County Deputy District Attorney Linda Witong said. The  district attorney's office is waiting for a report from the sheriff's  department, she said this morning.

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