Two PA Men, Teen Charged After Allegedly Blowing Up Turtle With Firecrackers

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. - Two men and a teen have been charged after allegedly killing a turtle by taping firecrackers to it and blowing it up.

The blast happened just before 7pm on August 3rd in Penn Township, Pennsylvania.

Police were called for a reported explosion and found a small crater with what appeared to be pieces of bone fragments, biological membrane and the remains of a large turtle in the same area.

Witnesses were able to provide descriptions of the suspects and the truck they were in.

21-year-old Taylor James Geib, 21-year-old Austin Mathew Garner and a 17-year-old boy have been charged with Criminal Conspiracy; Prohibited Offensive Weapons. The three told police they duct-taped two M-80 firecrackers to the shell of the turtle.

Forgotten Friends Reptile Sanctuary owner Jesse Rothacker couldn't believe someone would do this to a turtle.

"When you strap explosives to an animal and blow them up, that's just something that we should not accept in our society," he said.

According to Pennsylvania law, animal cruelty covers domesticated animals. Turtles are not considered domesticated. Rothacker said the law needs to be changed.

"If the laws don't reflect that it's animal cruelty, we need to change the laws and make sure people know that is animal cruelty," he said.

Rothacker said there is no reason to do this to a turtle, saying they are harmless. If you see one and don't like them, he said to just walk away. They are not going to catch you.

The state Fish and Boat Commission is investigating and more charges could be filed, including fishing without a license and the use of explosives.

According to police, there is no date set for the suspects' preliminary hearing.


  • mark

    these kids are idiots period,a harmless turtle killed with an EXPLOSIVE (not firecracker),punish them now ,what will they do next back back with explosives at a parade family gathering PUNISH THEM

  • Robert Gilboy

    An M-80 IS NOT a firecracker…….. Even calling them a firework comes across as ignorant. They are explosives, are a completely different category of illegal, and should be referred to as explosives.

  • take it easy people

    so it’s OK in everyone’s eyes to keep chickens/cows/pigs in pens their entire lives and treat them horribly and then kill them for their meat or their hides (and often it is not exactly in a humane way either) but we draw the line at blowing up a turtle?? not saying it’s a nice thing to do but think we need to take a step back and think about how we’re wearing leather belts and shoes/clothing and eating cheeseburgers and friend chicken while we sit here on our computers and call these kids sadistic and serial killers and that they should be locked up for a long time…

    • Axia

      You must be a special kind of stupid. Pointless, borderline (if not outright) sociopathic killing of an animal is completely unrelated to killing an animal for food or utility.

  • MJ

    These people didn’t blow up the turtle because the didn’t “like it”, as the man stated, they blew it up because they are sadistic (words withheld to keep it readable), and wanted to hurt the animal. THEY enjoyed it.They should be charged with any and all laws that can be used on them for harming a basically defenseless wild animal.

    • you ain't so bad MJ

      I think you need to spend a little more time in the real world MJ and less time sitting by yourself on a computer, get some actual human interaction in the real world and realize it’s a turtle and these are 17-21 year old kids… god forbid they make a few mistakes.. everyone always cries on here about how messed up our legal system is blah blah blah… so lets make it better by sending kids to jail for long periods of time for killing a turtle?? seems like a great idea…

      • Patti Lewis Ollendyke

        And giving them a pat on the back and saying ‘it’s OK son, it was just a turtle’ is what we should do instead? It was animal cruelty. Maybe next time they’ll strap a couple M80’s to your dog. “Children” (and these are NOT children) are not taught basic right from wrong anymore. They do what they please with no repercussions. If it were up to me, I’d make them do some community service at a Wildlife Rehab center.

      • Tom

        Sure, make excuses for them. That’s why, at 17 and 21, they’re blowing up defenseless animals – because all their lives, people have made excuses for their behavior. But no, I am sure you’re right, they will become productive members of society if we just ask them nicely to stop behaving like sociopaths.

      • Jay

        Agreed. I did stupid stuff similar to this as a teenager, that I certainly wouldn’t do today. But my life would have certainly taken a much different trajectory had that stupid stuff given me a criminal record. Teenagers do stupid things. That turtle could have been run over by a car 30 minutes later and no one would have cared.

      • Rachel vaughan

        This is not a harmless prank and where’s the “prank” in destroying this little turtle? These are not toddlers who don’t get the concept of “Dead” and make the mistake of pulling the fishy out of the bowl. “Kids prank” indeed!

  • boom

    Firecrackers???? How about quartersticks or m80’s/m100’s? I couldn’t even blow up my little green army men with firecrackers.

    • Boo you Stan

      you’re an idiot.. unless you know these 17-21 year old children personally, to call them future serial killers solely based on this article is just as stupid as what they did to the turtle… I had a ground hog digging up my yard and took him down w/ my 22 last week, should I be planning my stay in prison for the rest of my life now?? get a life Stan…

      • Axia

        All three are old enough to drive. Two are old enough to enlist, old enough to legally drink. You use the word “Children” and I do not think you know what this word means. They are not “Children” nor are they “Adolescents” – they are young adults. I suppose if they went and threw a rock off of an overpass, you’d be making excuses for them then, too. “Oh, they were just children!”

      • boo you boo you stan

        I hope that you understand, that when you pull a trigger on a groundhog to stop your yard from being destroyed, that you are doing that for a purpose. These idiots couldn’t think of anything constructive to do and so they just randomly killed wildlife. There should be a strict law against this type of behavior. Even your conscience knows that this instance translated to animal cruelty; law or not, it is the natural law.
        If you get your jollies off and it’s a big exciting feeling, you know you’re probably doing something wrong. What is to say that the thrill of killing someone’s pet isn’t just as exciting for these goons?

    • Bob

      What? No one remembers the tortoise with the dismembered head on it crawling toward the DEA agents and then blowing up? What these guys did was cruel, but something like it was on TV at least once.

      • bob mine

        Wait, I thought that video games and TV didn’t actually modify our way of thinking.
        The army uses video games for training.

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