Saturday, November 25, 2006

AJC: Psychic enlisted to find pig's killer

This is one of those earnest news stories you can't help but laugh at: "Halle Berry met a grisly end in this mountain town.

Not the Hollywood star —- this Halle was a 10-month-old pet pig, a house- and leash-trained porker that loved to nibble owner Lydia Weaver's hostas and have its belly scratched.

Someone captured, killed and butchered Halle a few weeks ago, dumping the animal's remains on Weaver's land.

'Every morning at breakfast and every evening at supper I think, 'Are they cooking Halle?' ' Weaver said. 'She was more than the price of bacon or sausage. She was a family member.'

Weaver called the cops and has offered a $1,000 reward, but in case neither the law nor the cash smokes the bad guys out, she's got a pig-loving psychic on the case.

'I have never called a psychic in my life, but I am desperate' said Weaver, who lives on 38 acres with her husband, two children and 30 sheep, 12 horses, 12 dogs, 15 cats, two donkeys and eight pigs. 'I'll shake every tree I can.'

Enter Victoria Bragg of Jasper, a volunteer animal rescuer who professes a sixth sense, especially when it comes to critters.

'I can see spirits and communicate with spirits,' Bragg said.

Her senses tell her that Halle did not suffer.

'She felt a sting in her neck,' Bragg said. 'Then she was with her mother.'

That jibed with information Weaver hadn't shared: Halle's throat was cut, and the pig's mother, Harley, had died not long after Halle was born.

'I'm so upset about it, but I also know she's in a good place,' said Bragg, who occasionally finds homes for pigs that grow bigger than owners expected. 'Somebody that could do that is the epitome of evil. When I had an image of him, it just made me shake.'

Actually, Bragg's instinct tells her that more than one pig-napper was in on the crime —- and that they preserved the body before returning it to Weaver's place. 'I see a freezer,' Bragg said.

The daughter of a traveling preacher, Bragg says her special sense may have been honed on the tent-revival circuit. Today she describes herself as more spiritual than religious.

'I believe if you ask God for help, you'll get it,' she said. 'We all have this gift, it's just we don't listen to it. It's like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets.'


Weaver says a local investigator 'sort of smirked' when she brought up the idea of a psychic; the Fannin County sheriff's office did not return calls about the case. In Georgia, misdemeanor animal cruelty is punishable by up to a year in jail and up to $5,000 in fines, while aggravated animal cruelty, involving torture, is a felony punishable by up to five years and $15,000.

Bragg hopes those responsible will reveal themselves by blabbing about the deed.

'Even if we don't get justice in this lifetime,' she said, 'we will in another.'"


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