Tortoises decapitated, others stolen from nature park in Weslaco

Tortoises decapitated, others stolen from nature park in Weslaco

Weslaco police want to find those responsible for terrorizing tortoises at the Valley Nature Center.

Police believe two Texas tortoises were killed by intruders last Tuesday. One of the animals was drowned and the other mutilated.

« They had to crack the shell here to gut it, » said park director Daniel Cordova as he showed Action 4 News the empty shell of a Texas tortoise. « What if a kid had come along and seen that? What kind of long-term memories does that have on a kid? »

The Valley Nature Center, a sanctuary for threatened species, was invaded by alleged perpetrators who are believed to be three juveniles.

« One of our specialities is the fact that we do have Texas tortoises free roaming here and that have developed territories here that have been thriving off of our land and for kids to come in and just kill them because they get kicks out of it or they have fun doing that, I mean, it’s gruesome, » Cordova said.

Surveillance video showing three males trespassing in the park led police to identify one of the minors, according to Weslaco Police spokesman Bernie Garza.

However, no arrests have been made. Investigators believe three more tortoises were stolen and have yet to be located.

« What makes us successful is that everyone around us, our neighbors, takes a part in helping with the security, blowing that whistle to protect our nature center, » Cordova said.

If arrested, the suspects could face charges of burglary of a building, criminal mischief and cruelty to animals.

Anyone with information is urged to call Weslaco police at (956) 968-8591.