College Students Arrested in Turkey Theft After Bird Found Plucked, Reeking of Beer

The 40-pound bird was missing for nearly 24 hours

"Tim the turkey" reeked of beer and was missing some tail feathers after two college students allegedly "bird-napped" him from a high school in Southern California, the school said Monday.

Chapman University students Steven Koressel and Richard Melbye were booked into Orange County jail in connection with the theft and animal cruelty investigation, according to police, who announced their arrests Monday evening.

Tim, a 5-year-old American heritage slate turkey, disappeared around 5 p.m.

Saturday from the Panther Farm at Orange High School. The farm, which houses 60 animals, is considered a "living laboratory" where students learn veterinary skills.

When Tim vanished, Jake — another turkey at the school — was untouched.

"There's not a feather out of place. Of course, there are feathers — little feathers everywhere from both of them and the chickens — but not those feathers," said Patti Williams, an agriculture teacher at the school.

Tim can't fly, so teachers knew he hadn't escaped on his own. They came to the conclusion that he had been stolen.

None of the locks were broken. None of the fences were compromised. The remaining animals were all accounted for, Williams said.

School officials got a break in the case nearly 24 hours later.

A woman living on Center Street near Chapman University snapped a photo of the bird, saying she found him in her neighbor's backyard.

The 40-pound bird had broken tail feathers, trouble breathing and was reportedly having a tough time regaining his alpha position on the farm.

Williams said he also reeked of booze.

"He smelled like he had beer on him," Williams said.

Tim will visit a veterinarian for X-rays of his foot and chest.

"And he's not an 'eating' turkey — he's our pet. He's our mascot," Williams said.

It wasn't immediately clear if Koressel and Melbye have hired attorneys.

Chapman University said in a statement the school would "undertake the appropriate disciplinary actions" according to its student conduct code.

"Due to federal student privacy laws (FERPA), the University cannot identify the students or reveal details of the institution’s disciplinary actions – however, the University will not tolerate any instances of theft, animal abuse or cruelty, is appalled by this behavior, and takes this issue extremely seriously," school officials said in the statement.

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