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Special Investigation : Monster Pig
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Alabama's Monster Pig Hoax, one year later

Consequences of infamous youth pig kill still being played out
By: Rhonda Roland Shearer
May 03, 2008 12:00 AM EST
 
Alabama's Monster Pig Hoax, one year later
 
 

Editor's Note : Rhonda Roland Shearer is the director of Art Science Research Laboratory, which she founded with her late husband Stephen Jay Gould. The New York-based think tank promotes cross-disciplinary studies and supports a journalism ethics program that publishes StinkyJournalism.org, a site bent on debunking erroneous media. She and her colleagues have put hundreds of hours into investigating the claims around a "monster" pig kill in Alabama last year, which they see as a case study in how to create an international media hoax. Because the investigation involves hunting law and ethics, she has written this second report for ESPNOutdoors.com, to be published simultaneously on StinkyJournalism.org.

Exclusive to ESPNOutdoors.com In January, a Clay County grand jury was to decide if the Monster Pig hunters committed animal cruelty. The public never heard that the District Attorney who was to prosecute the case suddenly canceled . Now in April, another surprise. A National Geographic UK film crew is in Alabama filming "Anatomy of a Hoax" about the monster hog killing. With all the unexpected twists and turns in this case, what else should the public know? Fred the pig may be dead but the consequences of his killing continue.

On May 3rd 2007, an eleven year old boy, Jamison Stone, from Pickensville, Alabama,  made international news that spread like wildfire over the Associated Press wire services. The now infamous photograph shows a fresh faced boy kneeling behind a monster-sized pig. The hog was shot in the backwoods with a giant 50 caliber Smith & Wesson hand gun that later turned out to be, like the hunt itself, a hoax.


"Fred" in his pig pen, April 3, 2007, exactly one month before being shot

Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries quickly revealed that it was a farm animal, and not a wild boar, that was shot in the 150 acre low-fence area. It was an overfed pet, and gentle domestic Duroc swine, named Fred. My investigation uncovered the darker tale that went mostly unreported by mainstream media.

The owner of Lost Creek Plantation-- the canned hunting operation-- Eddy Borden, along with owners of Southeastern Trophy Hunters Keith O’Neil and Charles Williams, modeled their marketing scheme after the enormously successful Hogzilla shooting in Georgia that National Geographic turned into a 2005 record-breaking documentary. Their flimflam plan was to buy a dark hairy fat farm hog, and sell it to a greenhorn as a “once in a lifetime” opportunity. The advertisement promised that a 1,000 pound monster boar was “roaming the wilds” of the Lineville plantation even before they picked Fred up from the farm.

To save face, Mike Stone, Jamison’s father, continued to tell a heroic tale about what happened on May 3, 2007. However, the ugly bottom line still showed --and the public noticed. Mike Stone said that for three hours, Jamison repeatedly wounded the hog with no kill shot. Stone told me that a local TV station said to the hunters that "if they wanted a news story, only the boy could shoot the pig-- no adults." So the three professional hunters, Borden, Williams and O’Neil, armed with rifles, stood by for hours and watched as the hog eventually bled out in order to, ultimately, promote their hunting business.
 

SPECIAL REPORT

Exclusive: Follow the Bacon: Part II
12 year old faces possible Grand Jury charges for animal cruelty.

Hog Washed!: Part I
Stinky Journalism investigation debunks AP and FOX News: “Giant Hog with Small Boy” Photo

   [RELATED]

Citizens, including hunters, from around the world were outraged. Greed had sadly replaced the long-held hunters’ ethic of a quick and humane kill, and put hunting itself and Alabama’s global reputation in the cross-hairs. Clay County District Attorney Fred Thompson, in response, asked the sheriff to investigate the hunters for possible animal cruelty charges. As I reported in a January ESPNOutdoors.com exclusive, Lt. Steve Cotney, of the Clay County Sheriff’s office was ready to testify in a secret grand jury the week of January 28th.

Consistent with the unexpected twists and turns in this case, and what the public has yet to learn since my story that a grand jury would convene, is that Lt. Cotney-- to his great surprise-- never got to testify. He found out on the day he was suppose to report to the grand jury that after many months of hard work, DA Fred Thompson, without explanation, canceled the grand jury.

“We’re just going to leave that alone,” Thompson told Cotney .

Since then, Alabama’s Attorney General, Troy King, reviewed the Monster Pig case and told me there was too little time for his office to pursue the case before the one year statute of limitations ran out May 3, 2008 following the DA’s cancelation. He was also unsure whether or not Alabama animal cruelty laws would be applicable to the killing of a farm animal suddenly transposed into a hunter's quarry.

Allen Andress, Chief Enforcement Officer for Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division, also declined to do any enforcement. He told me they had no jurisdiction. Fred may have been hunted, but he was not a wild animal.

Pet? Hunting quarry? Farm animal? Who was Fred? Facts support that one time or another he was all three. Authorities, so far, have not drawn the moral line, that the willful participation in the unnecessary slow and painful death of an animal--no matter if it’s a pet, prey or agricultural -- is unlawful in the US or the State of Alabama,.

Meanwhile, National Geographic’s UK film crew, Tigress Productions, is filming “Anatomy of a Hoax” to further delve into the ugly side of the monster pig killing. Producers told me that Mike Stone has agreed to be interviewed. Their 2005 documentary on Hogzilla, the Georgia plantation giant hog shooting, was for a long time, the second most watched program in the channel’s history.


Eddy Borden, on left with hunting client at the now defunct Lost Creek Plantation, Lineville, Alabama. Note: Borden poses a considerable distance back from the hog. This "forced perspective" photo trick is often used by hunters and fishermen to create the illusion that the fish or, in this case, the pig, is larger than life.
Photo Credit: Clay County Times

The New York Times recently reported that many states are trying to combat the steep decline in hunting (as judged by the reduction of purchases of licenses). The further airing of this hoax in another round of negative international press exposure is a public relations disaster for Alabama as well as for hunting.

What these three con men did on May 3, 2007 was not sport. They should not be allowed to give Alabama’s hunters and hunting traditions a black eye.

I asked two vet pathologists and a doctor with expertise in pig surgery conducted for human research to examine the photographs of Fred’s carcass. All three stated in their reports that there was no evidence of a kill shot among the many wounds up and down the animal’s two sides.

Dr. Melinda Merck, a vet pathologist, writes, “Based on the lack of a conclusive kill shot and the prolonged time to die, the cause of death is most likely shock and exsanguinations [bleeding out] primarily from the injuries to the abdominal organs.” Dr Yi-Horng Lee, a surgeon, agrees that the abdominal injuries sustained from the ill- placed gun shot wounds “would have caused extreme pain and anxiety for a prolonged period of time.”

A single well-placed higher velocity rifle shot by any one of the professional hunter guides would have quickly killed the animal.

Now, it is up to Alabama US Attorney of the Northern District, Alice H. Martin. She is the last resort for justice for Fred and the hunting tradition of Alabama.

 

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Just to put this in context after reading some of the comments left here, I'm a conservative and a hunter and what these "hunters" and "preserve" operators did was pathetic. I think most of the people who have posted here either miss the point or are just complete idiots. This kids dad seems to have went out of his way to promote himself for personal gain at the expense of his kid, and the "preserve" operators palnned this for their own benefit. Does it upset me that someone hunted an animal? No, of course not. But there are so many things here for even a half-assed ethical hunter to be disgusted by, I can't believe some of these posters can't get it. Let's consider just two points here:


1) Prolonging the hunt to sell a story/get an endorsement, at the expense of a wounded animal. If you can seriously say you are a hunter and not find this disturbing, you're just white trash with a gun.


2) Buying what amounts to a pet pig and shooting it on a "hunt" to be able to sell your preserve as some kind of Mecca for the Big 'Uns. I mean, pheasant preserves raise and release birds for hunting, and wild game preserves provide a suitable environment for the animals to live in, but these guys bought a pig, claiming they wanted to use it as a breeder, and then pulled this crap. Even if I bred pigs for slaughter I'd take exception to someone buying from me and shooting/hunting the pig for 3 hours for "sport".


If you think either of the above constitutes either hunting, or you believe because it's an animal, i.e. "It's where meat comes from so it doesn't matter if you treat it like nothing", then you have serious issues and need help, or at least please consider sterilization so that you stop poisoning the gene pool and making little "hunters" like yourselves.


BTW, I have no clue who this lady is who runs this site, and while if I read more of her stuff I may dislike her like some of you seem to, in this case she's on the spot.

Comment by Chuck | Feb 21, 2009 at 08:03 PM EST

Wow Chuck i like what you say because i hunt alot and i cant stand how some people claim to be "ethical" and do the right thing because most of them don't like in PA i know many people who shoot more deer than they have tags and like you said i think are more white trash with gun hunters than most realize but also if they hunted it with a high power rifle one well placed shot would have done it and they did the whole thing for personal benefit and i would like to see the movie the anatomy of a hoax to see more facts of this.

Comment by Shawn | Jun 7, 2010 at 06:17 PM EST

To all those that read the Fox News and Birmingham News reports. There is no evidence that what has been claimed by the father is true. If the hunt is a big lie, are we to believe that these death threats are true from the same source?

Go to monsterpig.com the father's web site. There are close-up photos of the boy. If there were really deaths threats would Mike Stone leave the site up and provide photos so that bad people can more easily identify his son?

Where are these emails with the routing information? Do they exist? How many death threats? One from a year ago or 100 from last week? Where are the police reports? Do they exist? The Birmingham News did not check I bet. They falsely stated that I was behind the wildlife investigation and have now been forced to correct it .

See the Birmingham News correction and the Fox News correction. The claim that I started the wildlife investigation was an error. See their corrections---Fox News and Birmingham News


Comment by Rhonda R Shearer | Aug 1, 2008 at 06:55 AM EST

YeaH!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank the good Lord that there are hunters out there that follow the laws and rules of hunting. What a great trophy that boy has and a very proud moment for his father. Wild boars are not native to the south. The population of the wild boar is a danger to native wildlife and native plants. Hunters look to preserve what is native and natural and to keep in check the population of all animals. Because of hunters, the population of white tail deer is stronger and healthier than a century ago. People are living further into what was just a decade ago considered wild and woodland areas. The mamangement of America's wildlife keep everyone safe and wildlife strong.


Comment by Stephanie | Jul 30, 2008 at 05:09 PM EST

What an ignorant, idiotic thing to do, embellish a story to enrage the public for what? To stroke your own view of what's right or wrong without any facts and then embellish the story all to hell that results in death threats to an 11 year old boy and his family? what an idiot! You run a group that holds the media to a higher standard but you can tell lies to promote your own agenda or your view of right and wrong which seems to me like you're just as stupid as any journalist that writes articles on subjects they haven't a clue about. Rhonda ... go crawl back into a hole ... we don't want to hear any more of your stink.!!!

Comment by Tiny | Jul 31, 2008 at 02:54 AM EST

I have 150 hours of taped interviews and documents to prove every fact I have asserted said.


Comment by Rhonda R Shearer | Aug 1, 2008 at 06:27 AM EST

More speculation and conjecture from someone who has never even bothered to visit the scene or interview the parties involved.

Comment by Ricketts | Jul 30, 2008 at 03:36 PM EST

I have interviewed every player involved. I have 25 hours ON TAPE with Mike Stone alone.

Comment by Rhonda R Shearer | Aug 1, 2008 at 06:28 AM EST

Why advocate animal cruelity charges is the story if a hoax. That doesn't make any sense at all.

Comment by steve | Jul 30, 2008 at 01:50 PM EST

The hunt was a hoax but the cruel manner in which Fred died is very real. The hoax was the pig was a wild beast as well as the faked photo that made the pig look bigger than life. .

Comment by Rhonda R Shearer | Aug 1, 2008 at 06:31 AM EST

The child was hunting legally and from what I hear the animal was processed and helped feed the family. I am sure that the hunters did what they could to ensure a speedy death to the pig and still remain safely out of harms way. Advancing on an injured half ton pig would be foolhardy at best and I imagine that they waited 3 hrs to ensure that the danger had passed before moving the animal. Who knows when the pig actually died? It could have been relatively quickly. Either way, I would doubt anyone who opposes the great tradition of hunting would have the intestinal fortitude to hunt an animal this big with a short range weapon such as a pistol.

Comment by Josh | Jul 30, 2008 at 01:47 PM EST

The truth is Mike Stone could not eat the meat he told me as it had "boar taint" --a terrible smell that adult uncastrated male pigs have.

The hunters and Mike Stone all said the hunt took them 3 hours and 16 rounds with 9 hitting. The publicity materials sent to the media said it . It was an overweight farm pig . Read about big pig contexts at county fairs --the only place you see such big pigs as they are useless for both breeding and eatting. The hogs at 1,000 pounds are too heavy to even walk--let alone run.

As I wrote the reason why the adult hunters did not shot the pig right away according to Mike Stone--ON TAPE--was they were told by a local TV station if anyone else but the boy shot the hog they would not get a news story. Also, Stone was looking to get a Smith&Wesson endorsement deal--according to their PR person Stone kept calling them. So they need the hog to die from the big hand gun--not the professional hunters high powered rifles.

This may be just a pig, but it feels pain and real hunters respect game--or pigs. This hoax was not hunting. I am a hunter and certainly know right from wrong.



Comment by Rhonda R Shearer | Aug 1, 2008 at 08:58 AM EST

Its a PIG!!

NO its bacon>>>>

A truck load of pork chops..

Let Alabama take care of its self. We don't need the world telling the south how to live. If you don't like it

STAY out of Alabama

Comment by mick | Jul 30, 2008 at 11:04 AM EST

Well, it's good to see how far the twisted left is willing to go in the name of their frivolous agendas. Calling for prosecution of a 12 year old for a legally shooting a pig. Saying there is worldwide support for your braindead stupidity because you found a few idiots in Portugal to sign some petition. This is the United States. Hunting is legal. Hunters rights are protected. The fact that some teenage girl from Portugal is as retarded as you are doesn't change this. I doubt you get many signatures from locales where the population does much hunting. Much easier to get a knee-jerk reaction from people who are completely ignorant on the subject, isn't it?

Your persecution of this 12 year old boy has lead directly to his receiving death threats. While hunting is legal in this country, cyber-bullying is not. Rounding up foreigners to threaten a law-abiding American child, that is really quite impressive, Rhonda. This reeks of terrorism. At a minimum, you have committed cyber-bullying and are responsible for the communication of death threats. I think there is a good chance that you have incitited terrorism. I would like to see you held responsible and tried for your crimes. You deserve to spend the rest of your natural life in prison.

Comment by Sick of the Left | Jul 30, 2008 at 12:22 PM EST

There is no evdience that what has been claimed by the father is true. If the hunt is a big lie, are we to believe hat these death threats are true from the same source?

Go to monsterpig.com the father's web site. There are close-up photos of the boy. If there were really deaths threats would Mike Stone leave the site up and provide photos so that bad people can more easily identify his son?

Where are these emails with the routing information? Do they exist? How many death threats? One from a year ago or 100 from last week? Where are the police reports?


Comment by Rhonda R Shearer | Aug 1, 2008 at 06:41 AM EST

Did you read the articles on this site or ESPN before jumping to conclusions? I clearly said that only the adult hunters should be held accountable. See my article to learn the truth.

I wrote:

" Stone, now 12, may not have known better. He’s the young man you remember holding the .50 caliber Smith & Wesson pistol behind the large, hairy hog he shot at a “hunting preserve” called Lost Creek Plantation in Lineville, Ala., in May

"He no doubt had placed trust in his father, Mike Stone, who arranged the hunt with Keith O’Neal and Charles Williams, owners of Southeastern Trophy Hunters. They brokered hunts with Eddy Borden, who owns Lost Creek.


"Those men assured young Jamison that hog he killed was wild. The truth is, the animal was in fact a docile breeding swine named “Fred.”


"The boy’s trust in these four men turned out to be misplaced. O’Neal, a professional hunter, persuaded the father to fork over $1,500 to guide Jamison on the rigged hunt. Their actions that day could lead Jamison to face charges in court.

quot;How did three trained hunters and the boy’s father lead him around a fenced-in, 150-acre plot for more than three hours, allowing Jamison to repeatedly shoot – but merely wound – a 1,000-pound animal? Not one of them thought to say: ' Look, son, you had your chance, but those belly shots have wounded the animal and it is in distress. We have to put the creature out of its misery.' Instead, they allowed the hog to bleed out from injury. Mike Stone told me during several phone interviews recorded over numerous hours that no kill shot was ever taken. ' I regret that it didn’t die the first shot,' he told me on June 5 last year. ' But that’s all I can say. That’s all I’m going to say.' ”

Comment by Rhonda R Shearer | Aug 1, 2008 at 10:42 AM EST

Hunters know right from wrong. It is wrong to stand aside and let an animal suffer for three hours because you want a news story.

Comment by Rhonda R Shearer | Aug 1, 2008 at 06:33 AM EST

The family traditions of hunting are endangered . This hoax gives hunting a black eye. I am confident that the good people of Alabama would never call what happened on May 3rd hunting. The press--except ESPN-- has not told the truth about this case. Please read all the monster pig reports before you think you know the truth. I have taped recorded all my interviews and have documents that prove my factual claims . I lived in the South when growing up, have farming on both sides of my family. So I think your jumping to conclusions (and hurtful stereotypes) based upon a media report --that they now admited was inaccurate---is unfair.

Comment by Rhonda R Shearer | Aug 1, 2008 at 09:13 AM EST

I only eat porkchops carved from the flanks of living, humanely sedated pigs. :) Some other comments that really bring this petition to light: obviously animals are better than humans. Way to go! Make 'em pay. Then lets get the rest of the hunters, then on to the meat-eaters.

We signed the "Pet and Former Farm Pig Canned Hunted" petition!

# 860: 10:44 am PDT, Jul 30, John Henderson, Illinois
Someone should shoot the fat "monster kid".
At least he will be cursed with that ugly mug his entire life.

# 857: 10:24 am PDT, Jul 30, Josef Mengele, California
THis young criminal ought to be vivisected - and I am just the fellow to do the job!

Comment by Rick | Jul 30, 2008 at 10:59 AM EST

I bet that pig was delicious! I bet he and Rhonda's husband are rolling in the mud in pig heaven right now!

Comment by vic webster | Jul 30, 2008 at 10:47 AM EST

Another vote that RSS is a despicable idiot. Her unrepentant attitude about the cyber-bullying that has been instigated by her ridiculous left wing crusade is unconsionable.

Comment by Tod | Jul 30, 2008 at 10:37 AM EST

I'm reading through the posts here and on other sites as well and can offer a little solace to all of us logical (at least as far as this story is concerned) people...out of the rougly 1.5 billion internet users across the globe these idiots have garnered a little over 800 petitioners. So, I think the dumb ass to normal ratio is extremely "normal" heavy...besides, this story wouldn't be deemed news-worthy if it wasn't completely idiotic. This is media's way of outing just how stupid these people are!

Comment by The Angry Redneck | Jul 30, 2008 at 09:35 AM EST

So, who are the idiots...the hunters who let a pig suffer for 3 or 4 hours? Or the ones who are outraged that hunters let a pig suffer for 3 or 4 hours?

Comment by Nan | Aug 1, 2008 at 10:17 AM EST

Man, I could go for some pork chops right about now. Yall are making me hungry. FRED probably made an awesome pulled pork sandwich! I wish I could have had some.

Comment by Craig | Jul 30, 2008 at 09:19 AM EST

Ya'll need to get a life! You harbor so much hate for people and have not publicly denounced any of the threats YOU have perpetuated through your petition for prosecution of this boy. This was a legal hunting trip...unlike the witch hunt you're on. You are absolutley no different from prosecutors of the Salem witch trials of 1692.

Comment by Larry "The Angry Redneck" | Jul 30, 2008 at 09:15 AM EST

Are you really that stupid? I bet you would eat every porkchop and piece of bacon that came from that pig if you did not know the circumstances of it's death!

Comment by Mike | Jul 30, 2008 at 09:09 AM EST

Rhonda, are you really this stupid? You are probably an vegan who has voted liberal for her whole life.

Comment by Terry | Jul 30, 2008 at 08:56 AM EST

Comment by Jason | Jul 30, 2008 at 08:55 AM EST

I completely agree with most of the people posting comments on here. . It is rediculous that this story even gets on the news. We are supposed to be upset because the kid killed a pig and it may, or may not have suffered. IT'S A PIG! It's an animal, not a human being. Now this kid is recieving death threats! Give me a break. Something is really wrong when we put an animals safety and wellbeing above another humans. If this trend of "animal rights over human rights" continues, we are all going to end up suffering from the consequences in the end.

Comment by Heywood | Jul 30, 2008 at 08:37 AM EST

I know I will be seen (or rather read) here as another Southern Hick, but it is utterly amazing that you have time to fight for the rights of a Pig. Where do you find the time? My guess is that from the documented weight of this pig he lived a more fruitful life than you currently do. Don't you have an iceberg to stop from melting or something?

Comment by Joe | Jul 30, 2008 at 08:12 AM EST

Mind your own business. We don't care for your opinion. Go worry about global warming or some other hoax and quit ruining our lives.

Comment by david | Jul 30, 2008 at 07:48 AM EST

You stupid ass people will worry more over a damn pig than the sorry ass mother in jail that wont tell where her child is. Don't you think this is a little backwards?

Comment by ken | Jul 30, 2008 at 07:35 AM EST
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