Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Emma Dilemma

Everyone whom I spoke to insists that Katie Masterson is a good person and would never intentionally bring harm to others. Her neighbors, friends, and the people she worked with are stunned by last week's mauling death of Heather Carter by Emma, a Sumatran orangutan from the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens.

Yet the details of the case, currently under investigation by the Cincinnati Police Department, remain murky. Masterson, a 13-year veterinarian at the zoo, is reported to have taken Emma from her enclosure and to her own Pleasant Ridge home, a clear violation of the zoo's policies.

Several cell phone videos of the incident that have appeared online [WKB5 has chosen not to link to or broadcast the videos], which depict a woman screaming and running from Masterson's home and then being tackled by what looks like an ape, are chilling.

I was able to speak with an EMT specialist on the condition of anonymity who described Heather Carter's injuries:

"Her whole [expletive] face was ripped off, man. No skin. No lips. All I could see was teeth and eyeballs."

Masterson was taken into custody shortly thereafter, but the search for Emma continued for several days. She was finally captured in Mt. Airy Forest two days ago. Sources at the scene have described her as being weak and dehydrated.

"She was about dead," one official was heard to say.

"There's no motive yet, but maybe we just found our murder weapon," another official said.

"Like a mystery novel plot"

Not much is known about Heather Carter, a former Washington school teacher. Her social media accounts show that she was acquainted in some capacity with Katie Masterson, but the nature of their relationship remains vague.

"I saw her at the house for the first time probably two months ago," neighbor Dennis Jurgen told me. "Then a few times after that. It didn't even register to me. Why would it? If Katie was in a lesbian relationship, good for her. But a [expletive] orangutan? Nope. I definitely never saw that."

Another neighbor, Terry Kearns, has a different account.

"Katie was taking that monkey home a lot. She'd walk him on the front lawn, and I'd be like, "Seriously? This is going to end badly."

"I mean, I've read my share of mystery novels, and the best murder weapon would be an animal that can't stand trial or an icicle used as a dagger and then it melts."

"There's some shit going on in the media now, and it's probably clogging the toilet of the actual police investigation."

Yet another neighbor was quick to express his opinion.

"What's that gorilla who had the cat? Kiko? Koko? She had a little kitten called All Ball. They're both probably dead now."

Can a primate stand trial?

That is for a grand jury to decide. Is there testimony that an orangutan could provide to shed light on this murder, or would it be considered inadmissible? Currently, there is an online petition to have Emma hanged on live television.

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