Diane Gerino enjoys looking out at the lake behind her Sabal Lakes home. It was one of the selling points when she bought the property ten years ago. On Friday, January 24, the 63-year-old was on the phone with her daughter in Connecticut when she gazed out her sliding glass doors to watch the sun set. But what she saw next made her drop the phone.
"An unknown juvenile hit a Muscovy duck with a blunt object," a police report states. "The duck had several puncture wounds."
"I witnessed it!" Gerino tells New Times. "I was looking out back and saw a child pick up a stick and a golf club, and he beat down the duck, and I was flabbergasted." She says she ran outside next to yell at the boy to stop. He did but ran away before Gerino reached him. He looked about 10 or 11 years old to her.
When she reached the duck, it was not moving. "The duck had to be euthanized," Gerino remembers. "Its back was broken, its legs were paralyzed, and the duck was alive when I saw him. He was bleeding from the little holes in his bill. I've never seen anything like it before, and I hope I never do."
Gerino promptly called police and animal control, but she knew once the professionals put the feathered waterfowl out of its misery, there was little she could do to hold the perpetrator to account. The following day, she went to the local elementary school, Banyan Creek.
Gerino was successful and even spoke to the boy's parents. After hearing from the boy and his family, Gerino explains she doesn't wish to disclose his name. "They were surprised, and so were the other people that knew him," she says. "No one ever thought he would do something like that and that it wasn't his normal nature. He isn't a bully. He is going through some stuff."
Gerino donates to different animal rights organizations, and even though she admits she was angry at first, her main concern when she saw the bird's condition was to find the boy. "If I wasn't a witness and [he] got away with it and didn't get the help he needs, [his problem] could get a lot worse," Gerino explains. "Now, we caught it in the beginning and can teach him how to react to his anger in a different way."
Anyone who has watched Dexter knows torturing defenseless animals is just one predictor of homicidal behavior. Crossing our fingers that bed-wetting and pyromania aren't also in the mix.