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By Miriam Raftery


August 1, 2013 (Lakeside) – Lakeside resident Dennis Richardson was shocked to find a gift-wrapped box outside his home left around 1:20 a.m. on Tuesday,  July 30 with a hand-scrawled threat reading “Someone’s gonna get beat with my bat!”  He called the Sheriff, who dispatched a Bomb-Arson team to blow up the box as a suspicious device. 

After the explosion, they found a dead rabbit in the box with a red ribbon tied around its neck. Surveillance video showed four male suspects in light-colored clothing—and they left behind clues, including a shoebox for men’s athletic shoes, size 13, white Active Performance Succeed- manufactured by Champion and sold locally at Target.  A video of the suspects has been posted on the Lakeside Eucalyptus Hills Facebook page at

Richardson, whose photos and stories have been featured in ECM, said of the threat, “I react and take it serious…This is a federal offense—making terroristic threats.”  He has offered a $200 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspects. 

He told ECM that he was visited yesterday by Sheriff’s investigators, has spoken to federal authorities, and that Animal Control has also launched an animal cruelty investigation.

Richardson said the incident reminded him of a scene from the movie The Godfather, in which a dead horse head was left in a bed as a therat. “It sends a clear message to me that if they're willing to kill an animal and put it in a box that they're willing to kill me," he told ECM news partner 10 News. View video report from 10 News.

He believes the threat may have been prompted by details he has posted on his community’s Facebook page, where he has shared information about reckless drivers and “kids up here running wild.” In the past, he has posted videos of mail thieves and more.

“Anything that goes on in our community, we all know about it like a big family,” he said. “That’s important because we are able to deter crime and if there is something going on, we are able within minutes to share with a couple of hundred people on Facebook and that’s powerful.”

There are more clues. The shoebox was wrapped in gift wrapping with balloons.

It is unclear whether the brown-grey rabbit was wild or domesticated, or whether it was dead before the Bomb squad blew it up.

ECM has learned that the crime has an eerie similarity to a scene from a mystery novel titled Chief Among Sinners by Lois K. Gibson. In that book,  a dead rabbit with a red ribbon around its throat is left in a shoebox by an unidentified suspect, one in a series of mutilated animals. 

ECM tracked down the 85-yaer-old author at her home in another state.  “Only about 300 copies of the book have been sold,” she said, adding that the book is sold on, Barnes and Noble and E-Bay.  The book is first in a series, she said, adding that she hopes her book did not inspire such a horrific action.

Asked if any books had been sold in the San Diego area, Gibson said “Not to my knowledge,” but added that she has a relative living in the area who has not read the book, as far as she is aware. 

Richardson told ECM that there is a Gibson family in his neighborhood, though it is unclear whether they may be related to the author, or whether the similarities to the novel’s plot are mere coincidence or not.


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