New mysterious mutilations in Colorado’s San Luis Valley

The Sanchez mutilation, the carcass is in the bottom left of this picture. (image credit: Chuck Zukowski)
The Sanchez mutilation, the carcass is in the bottom left of this picture. (image credit: Chuck Zukowski)

A rancher outside of Colorado’s oldest town, San Luis, has been struck with a string of cattle mutilations that have left him baffled and distraught. On Oct. 25, Manuel Sanchez found two calves with their chests cored out, all of the organs seemingly carefully removed. There were no signs of struggle, and no pooling of blood, so it didn’t appear to be the work of a predator.

Inside the rib cage, all organs have been carefully removed. (image credit: Chuck Zukowski)

However, Sanchez was not able to find footprints, tire tracks, or any other indications that foul play by humans was involved either. Even if it were humans, he says he is unable to explain how a human could have cleanly killed the animals and removed their organs with no indications of their presence.

Unfortunately, this was not the end of Sanchez’s ordeal.  A few weeks later, on Nov. 9, another calf was found dead. This time, the left side of the animal’s face was removed with “laser-like” cuts. Fed up and convinced this was not the act of predators, Sanchez called the police. A deputy from the Costilla County Sheriff’s office came out and took pictures, but couldn’t provide any answers.

Finally, on Nov. 16, with another calf mutilated and the police unable to do anything to find the perpetrator or to protect his cattle, Sanchez had enough and decided to sell his remaining calves at auction before he lost them all.

Chuck Zukowski

With no answers from local authorities, Manuel’s daughter, Bernadette, searched online for other strange mutilations in the area and found my stories on cattle mutilations that took place just south of the San Luis Valley in Trinidad, Colorado earlier this year. She contacted me, and I got a hold of my colleague, Chuck Zukowski. He is an engineer and a reserve police officer that lives in the area, and he was the researcher who investigated the Trinidad mutilations. Luckily, he was able to get out and take a look.

The Trinidad mutilations took place in March, 2009 just west of town. Three ranchers had cattle mutilated, and all three were at a loss to explain how the animals were killed. Local authorities, press, and the brand inspector were also perplexed. Zukowski worked with them to look for clues and consult them on the cattle mutilations phenomena.

This phenomenon actually started in Colorado’s San Luis Valley, and became famous. The first mysterious mutilation occurred in 1967 on the King ranch outside of Alamosa, only a few miles north of San Luis. The victim was an Appaloosa horse name Lady (renamed Snippy by the press). It was found with the head and neck de-fleshed. The exposed bones were clean and white, without blood. The cuts were cauterized, leading a local pathologist out of Denver to speculate that they were done with a laser scalpel. Laser scalpels were practically science fiction in 1967.

Chuck Zukowski examining carcass in March, 2009 near Trinidad.

Since the King ranch incident in 1967, there have been hundreds of strange animal deaths in the San Luis Valley, often taking place in groups. This held true for the investigations Zukowski and I conducted in March of this year near Trinidad, and this also seems to be the case with Sanchez’s cattle.

When Zukowski arrived on the scene to the most recent mutilation on the Sanchez ranch, he noted that there were no footprints or tire marks to indicate people came to the area.  He also noted the lack of pooled blood, indications of a struggle, or any of the missing remains.  He did find a few teeth marks on the rib cage, and a missing eye ball, both of which appeared to be the work of scavengers after the death of the animal.

Tongues are often taken in mysterious cattle mutilations, and if not, they are usually hanging out of the animal’s mouth.  Since the mouth was closed in this case, Zukowski decided to take a look inside. He had to forcibly pry open the mouth with a garden shovel, and when he did, he found that the tongue had been removed.  It was cut off at least an inch behind the lower teeth.

Zukowski asked Sanchez about predators in the area. Sanchez told him that there had not been any mountain lions spotted recently, although there was a wolf sighting seven miles from the ranch in August.

There had been no military activity or helicopters seen in the area. However, Sanchez did report having sightings of strange lights in the early morning hours in July and August. He saw bright lights that drifted slowly above the pasture between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m., then mysteriously disappeared.

Sanchez calf had no unusual radiation emissions. (image credit: Chuck Zukowski)

Neither Zukowski nor the rancher believes that predators were to blame. The animal’s organs seemed to be carefully and completely removed.  The last animal’s body is twisted, and it was skinned without pools of blood, or a sign of a struggle. Zukowski and the rancher also ruled out foul play because of the lack of signs that would indicate human activity in the area.

Sanchez said that when he first found the last mutilated calf, there was snow on the ground, and the snow was not disturbed by any type of footprints at all. He says he doesn’t believe these animals were killed by predators or humans. He doesn’t know what killed his animals.

This isn’t the first time Sanchez has had to deal with this strange phenomenon. In 2006, he found one of his cows de-fleshed from the face down to the mid-torso. Luckily, in that case, he didn’t continue to lose cattle like he did recently.

More Information:

WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT: Click here to view more pictures from this mutilation, and the 2006 Sanchez mutilation, along with Chuck’s investigation notes.

Chuck Zukowski’s website:

Stories on March 2009 mutilations near Trinidad, CO.

If you have any information regarding recent mutilations in the San Luis Valley, please email:

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