October 26, 2015 5:18 PM EDT

A prized show jumping horse was taken from its barn in Palmetto, Fla. and led to a pasture where it was killed and butchered, apparently by someone with expert skill.

Phedras de Blondel, a 12-year-old chestnut gelding, had recently been purchased by Deborah Stephens from a French breeder, the New York Times reports. Stephens, a celebrated show jumping competitor, planned to bring Phedras to the Grand Prix next month. But when she arrived at the barn on Sunday, an employee told her something was amiss with the lock on Phedras’s stall, and that the 1,500-pound horse was missing. After searching the 31-acre property, Stephens and her assistant found the animal killed and expertly butchered.

The slaughter of horses is illegal in the state of Florida, and investigators are also treating the crime as grand theft and occupied burglary.


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