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Local News -

March 20, 2008

Letter says activists caused blaze

DELHI _ A letter has claimed animal-rights activists are responsible for the fire that destroyed Perkins Taxidermy on Jan. 25.

The blaze at the Arbor Hill Road taxidermist shop in Delhi was reported at about 11:20 p.m., and the 911 call was believed to have come from a motorist on state Route 10, Delhi Fire Chief Dan Brandenburg Sr. said at the time.

Two to three weeks after the fire, owner David Shaw said, he found a letter that had been dropped off in the mailbox at the shop.

"Greetings Human," was the salutation on the typed letter that bore no postmark, Delaware County Undersheriff Doug Vredenburgh said Wednesday.

"The letter took credit for the fire in the name of animal rights," Vredenburgh said. "It talked about humans overpopulating the earth and indicated that the fire was just a warning.'"

The letter, which has been turned over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for examination and testing, was signed ARF, which may be the acronym for the Animal Rights Front Inc., a group based in New Haven, Conn.

Vredenburgh said it has not been determined whether the letter is "legitimate or not or if it has any connection with the fire.

"The letter was vague, and we have not determined whether or not the ARF is a legitimate organization or even what the initials actually stand for," Vredenburgh said. "Anybody can write a letter claiming anything, and at this time, there is no way to verify it."

Shaw said he considered the contents of the letter threatening.

"Let me just say I took it serious enough that when I leave the driveway in my truck, I have a friend with me," Shaw said. "There are a lot of lunatics running around out there that no one can stop."

Vredenburgh said that based on the rhetoric in the letter, he believes it was written by an animal activist. However, because of the lapse of time between the fire and the delivery of the letter, he questions whether the person who wrote the letter was actually connected with the fire.

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