By Dan Whitcomb
(Reuters) – An Indiana man who police say mailed dead skunks and a raccoon to a man chosen over him as school basketball coach has been arrested on stalking, animal cruelty and other charges, police said on Wednesday.
Travis Tarrants, 40, was also accused of spray painting the victim’s car with such messages as “you will die” in a bid to get him to resign as coach and fourth grade teacher at the school in French Lick, Indiana, which happens to be the hometown of 1980s National Basketball Association star Larry Bird.
“It’s bizarre, its just hard to believe,” said Charles Murphy, Jackson County Sheriff’s jail commander. He said the case began in June when “the post office gets these packages that smell like skunks, blood coming from them,” and called police.
It was not immediately clear if Tarrants had retained an attorney.
Murphy said an investigation by police in Brownstown, where the victim lives, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Postal Service, ultimately lead to Tarrants, director of a small museum in nearby West Baden.
Authorities believe Tarrants began a campaign of trying to get the victim fired or force him to resign because he was disgruntled about losing out on the job.
“It’s my understanding that Mr. Tarrants decided to create some false information about the gentleman who did get the job, accused him of child molestation, mailed a couple of dead skunks, mailed a raccoon,” Murphy said.
Witnesses said Tarrants had trapped the animals outside his home in West Baden.
Tarrants is also accused of calling the county department of child protective services from a phone outside his office at the museum to falsely accuse his rival of having sex with a 15-year-old boy.
Tarrants was booked into Jackson County Jail on suspicion of criminal mischief, intimidation, staking, criminal trespass, false reporting, animal cruelty and harassment.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; editing by Grant McCool)