3 charged after allegedly blowing up turtle with firecrackers

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. - Two men and a teen have been charged after allegedly killing a turtle by taping firecrackers to it and blowing it up.

An explosion was reported in Penn Township, Pennsylvania around 7 p.m. on August 3. Police found a small crater with what appeared to be pieces of bone fragments, biological membrane and the remains of a large turtle in the same area.

Witnesses were able to provide descriptions of the suspects and the truck they were in.

Two 21 year olds, Taylor James Geib, Austin Mathew Garner and a 17-year-old boy were tracked down and told police they duct taped two M-80 firecrackers to the shell of the turtle, WPMT reported.  The trio has been charged with criminal conspiracy; prohibited offensive weapons.

Forgotten Friends Reptile Sanctuary owner Jesse Rothacker couldn't believe someone would do this to a turtle.

"When you strap explosives to an animal and blow them up, that's just something that we should not accept in our society," he said.

According to Pennsylvania law, animal cruelty covers domesticated animals. Turtles are not considered domesticated. Rothacker said the law needs to be changed.

"If the laws don't reflect that it's animal cruelty, we need to change the laws and make sure people know that is animal cruelty," he said.

Rothacker said there is no reason to do this to a turtle, saying they are harmless. If you see one and don't like them, he said to just walk away. They are not going to catch you.

The state Fish and Boat Commission is investigating and more charges could be filed, including fishing without a license and the use of explosives.

According to police, there is no date set for the suspects' preliminary hearing.