Vigil planned as horse death inquiry continues

Detectives have visited the Waitati paddock where miniature horse Star was stabbed 41 times by an assailant who remains at large.

Star later succumbed to his wounds, and a climate of fear and sadness prevails in the small seaside community near Dunedin, as some residents discuss moving away.

Senior Sergeant Craig Dinnissen, of Dunedin, said yesterday the case had been elevated to the Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB).

Kneeling at a vigil for slain miniature horse Star at his former Waitati home are (from left)...
Kneeling at a vigil for slain miniature horse Star at his former Waitati home are (from left) Angela Lyon, Vita Mayhem-Bullock (3) and Star's owner Mandy Mayhem-Bullock. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Waitati residents were helping officers and police were following positive lines of inquiry, he said.

Police were ''not ruling anything out'', and no arrests had been made.

Officers from the CIB and a police photographer yesterday examined the paddock at the corner of Brown and Pitt Sts.

They were shown around by Star's owner Mandy Mayhem-Bullock.

She and her husband Lee began their own inquiries earlier yesterday, scouring the paddock with a metal detector in search of a weapon.

Ms Mayhem-Bullock, a Waikouaiti Coast Community Board member, said detectives had seized a bloody piece of rope from her home.

A shrine had popped up beside Star's paddock, featuring a sign reading ''RIP Star'', and she hoped young children walking home from school would take comfort from the floral display.

''I'd rather tell kids that a dragon had swooped down hungry for a little pony than tell them a horrible human did this in our town.''

Star was buried at a property up the hill on Tuesday, under an apple tree, ''because one of his nicknames was Applejack''.

A veterinarian initially hoped Star would survive, but he died the following night, believed to be due to peritonitis after a wound punctured his bowel.

Ms Mayhem-Bullock had spoken with some in Waitati who were deeply affected by the attack.

''People have been coming to me saying they're scared and panicked, talking about moving away.''

A candle-light vigil would be held at the corner of Brown and Pitt Sts at 7.30pm on Sunday, and all in the Waitati community were welcome. People were urged to bring a candle.

It was ''to lift the bad ju-ju that's here at the moment''

-Dunedin police (03) 471-4800, Crimestoppers 0800 555-111.

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