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Death of farmer eaten by hogs investigated.

Byline: Jack Moran The Register-Guard

BANDON - Coos County authorities are trying to figure out how a local farmer ended up being eaten by his hogs.

"For all we know, it was a horrific accident, but it's so doggone weird that we have to look at all possibilities," Coos County District Attorney Paul Frasier said of 69-year-old Terry Vance Garner's death.

Garner's remains were found last Wednesday afternoon in a hog enclosure at his farm off Highway 42S, about two miles east of Bandon.

An unidentified family member who had gone out to look for Garner several hours after he went to feed his animals - which included several hogs that each weighed 700 pounds or more - made the gruesome discovery, Frasier said Monday.

First, the family member found Garner's dentures on the ground. He then noticed pieces of Garner's body scattered throughout the enclosure, Frasier said.

While investigators are certain that the hogs consumed most of Garner's body, they do not know how he died. An investigation is continuing.

Frasier said Garner may have collapsed in the hog pen after suffering a heart attack or some other type of health problem.

But it's also possible that the animals knocked Garner to the ground before killing and eating him, Frasier said. Investigators learned that at least one of the hogs had previously bitten and behaved aggressively toward Garner.

Because of the unique circumstances, foul play is another possibility being investigated, Frasier said.

A pathologist examined Garner's remains but could not identify a cause or manner of death. The remains will be further examined by a forensic anthropologist at the University of Oregon.

Frasier said he hadn't planned to issue a news release about the investigation, but decided otherwise on Monday after word got out regarding the bizarre incident.

Garner's older brother, 75-year-old Myrtle Point resident Michael Garner, said his sibling was "a good-hearted guy" who raised and fed several huge, adult sows and a boar named Teddy. When the hogs had piglets, Terry Garner typically sold them to local 4-H kids, his brother said.

"Those animals were his life," Michael Garner said. "He had all kinds of birds, and turkeys that ran all over the place. Everybody knew him."

Terry Garner was a Vietnam War veteran who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, his brother said.

"When he moved to that farm, it turned out to be a real life-saver for him," Michael Garner said.

Last year, one of the large sows bit Terry Garner after he had accidentally stepped on one of the piglets.

"He said he was going to kill it, but when I asked him about it later, he said he had changed his mind," Michael Garner said.

John Killefer, who heads the Animal and Rangeland Sciences Department at Oregon State University in Corvallis, called the incident involving Terry Garner both "very unfortunate" and highly unusual.

Although domestic hogs are not typically known to be as aggressive as their feral cousins, "there is some degree of danger associated with any animal," Killefer said. He added that pigs "are more omnivorous than other farm animals, (such as) cows."

Killefer said 700-pound pigs such as the ones that Garner kept at his farm for breeding purposes are abnormally large.

Most hogs are raised until they reach a market weight of between 250 and 300 pounds, while breeding female pigs rarely weigh more than 400 pounds, Killefer said.
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Title Annotation:Local News; Remains of 69-year-old Terry Vance Garner are found in the animals' pen
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Oct 2, 2012
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