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LAWRENCE, Kan. –Lawrence Police are investigating the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity at Kansas University after responding to a call of animal abuse.

According to two members of a Kansas City-based jazz band, who played at the Beta Theta Pi house during a winter formal on Friday night, fraternity members tossed a turkey around and handled it “like a rag doll,” until the animal died.

“Someone threw it like a football in the ballroom,” band member Chad Boydston said. “The turkey was running for its life — gobbling — and feathers were everywhere.”

Boydston and fellow band member Lisa McKenzie said they asked multiple times for the torture to stop.

“They said ‘No, it’s our turkey and we can do what we want’,” McKenzie said.

The band members guessed there were close to 200 people at the party and plenty of adults, yet nothing was done, according to Boydston.

“Out of all of these adults, including alumni, no one said anything,” he said.

McKenzie said she called police after seeing one fraternity member break the turkey’s neck on the front porch. Today the front steps to the house have feathers scattered about.

Lawrence police released a statement today about the case.

“On December 14, 2012 at 10:46pm officers from the Lawrence Police Department responded to the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, 1425 Tennessee Street, in regards to a cruelty to animals situation.  Officers determined the fraternity had a live turkey in a cage during a party at the house.  The animal had allegedly been poked by individuals through the cage and heckled during the evening.  At some point the turkey was freed from the cage.  Witnesses report the animal being chased and abused by several individuals present at the party, seriously injuring the animal.  One individual allegedly then killed the turkey, stating he did so to end its suffering.

Officers took statements from several individuals and prepared an offense report for Cruelty to Animals, case #02-12-15989.  The case will be forwarded to the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office for charging consideration once the investigation is complete.”

No one answered the door at the Beta house on Monday, students are on break. The national Beta chapter says it is aware of the allegations and is working with the local chapter and KU to find out what happened.

The university released a statement late Monday afternoon in response to calls for comment.

“A case of possible animal cruelty at a KU fraternity is under investigation by the Lawrence Police Department, the fraternity national chapter and the KU Interfraternity Council. The university expects anyone with information about this incident to cooperate fully.  Behavior such as that reported is reprehensible and is not what KU would expect from its students.”

No arrests have been made, the investigation is ongoing. Once it is finished it’s up to the prosecutor to determine if charges will be made.

On Tuesday, December 18, the national chapter of the Beta Theta Pi suspended the Kansas University chapter indefinitely.

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