A DeBary man convicted of animal cruelty in the hanging death of his mom’s Chihuahua last year is behind bars again.
David Rivera, 25, is the man who underwent a “cleansing ritual” last month through the beheading sacrifice of chickens and other animals, records show.
No one was arrested for the sacrifice. But Rivera is on community control for the dog’s death and he was recently arrested for three probation violations.
Rivera is accused of failing to check in with his probation officer twice and moving without notifying officials.
He denied violating his probation during a hearing May 31, records show.
“The defendant is unstable and a threat to society,” a probation officer wrote in a report.
Rivera is being held without bond at the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach.
A violation of probation hearing is set for June 21 before Circuit Court Judge James R. Clayton in DeLand.
Rivera entered a plea of no contest to a felony charge of animal cruelty after he was accused of hanging his mom’s dog in April 2016.
He was sentenced to five years of probation, according to records at the Volusia County Courthouse.
The attack on the dog happened April 14, 2016. Deputies were called to a home on Dirksen Drive about 11 a.m. that day.
Rivera’s mother told deputies she and her son had been arguing about his unemployment. She told him he would have to leave if he didn’t get a job, a spokesman for the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said at the time.
During the argument, Rivera climbed an oak tree and hanged her 5-year-old male Chihuahua using a metal dog chain.
He then climbed about 30 feet up the same tree and threatened to hang himself. Deputies and the Sheriff’s Office Hostage Negotiation Team responded.
He gave up peacefully and came down after 8 hours.
‘Cleansing of bad spirits’
Last month, Rivera failed to check in with his probation officer, prompting officials to look for him.
Two probation officers went to his last known address — the house on Dirksen Drive — on May 16 and found Rivera with blood on his head, a report said.
“This officer inquired about the blood and was told he and other family friends were conducting a spiritual/ritual ceremony,” a report said. The ceremony involved “a cleansing of bad spirits and talking to the dead” and sacrifice of chickens.
Rivera led his probation officer to the place where the ritual cleansing was performed, according to clickorlando.com.
Numerous headless animals were found, along with family members, where the ritual was performed, an incident report said.
A bicyclist called 911 after finding a bin with these beheaded animals: five chickens, two pigeons, one goat and one turtle.
Rivera was involuntarily committed for a mental evaluation under the state’s Baker Act on May 17 after calling a probation officer and saying he wanted to kill himself.
Call to Rivera
On May 23, after Rivera missed another probation check-in, a probation officer went to the house on Dirksen Drive. No one answered then or during a second attempt that evening.
The officer went to a neighbor’s house, where the resident called Rivera while the officer stood by.
The officer spoke over the phone with Rivera, who said he “does not and cannot live” at the house on Dirksen Drive and has been staying with a friend. The officer told Rivera to check-in at the probation office the next day, which he did.
He told the officer he had been living in a tent in Gemini Springs Park, an unverified claim. He also asked the officer if he could hear his thoughts.
The probation officer requested an arrest warrant for Rivera, saying he twice missed probation-office appointments and moved somewhere without notification.
You’ve been warned. Brain-eating amoeba season has returned to Florida.
The unrelenting heat of summer in Florida gives the deadly single-celled organism Naegleria fowleri ideal conditions to thrive in bodies of freshwater in the Sunshine State.
And with summer break right around the corner, chances are that more people, including kids, will be seeking relief from the heat during the next few months by popping into local lakes.
If you do, keep your head out of the water, experts say.
The best way to avoid infection is to avoid freshwater water during the summer.
The organisms can travel of human nasal passages, where they get easy access to the nervous system.
It consumes nervous-system tissue, causing a disease called primary amebic meningoencephalitis, or PAM.
Every case of PAM in Florida as been fatal.
The Florida Department of Health recently reminded the public about the threat from the organism.
The reminder was issued to coincide with Healthy and Safe Swimming Week, which runs from May 22 to May 28..
“As temperatures rise in Florida, swimming becomes a popular part of an ideal summer day,” said State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. Celeste Philip said in a statement. “To keep those days spent in the water carefree and fun, I encourage families to take precautions to ensure the water is safe and that an adult is keeping an eye on inexperienced swimmers at all times.”
You would think of bin of beheaded animals would fill a Florida town’s weird quota for a good long time. But the River City has a sporadic legacy of unusual animal encounters.
A woman riding her bike on Toms Road in DeBary last week spotted a recycling bin filled with decapitated animals.
“I didn’t get real close to it, but I know there was a goat and a chicken and they were all missing their heads, which I thought was kind of strange,” the woman said in a 911 call.
That wasn’t DeBary’s first brush with animal oddities. (Random bear sightings not included.)
March 2017 A woman walking her dog stumbled across a pack of coyotes — all in an area where cats had vanished, according to Orlando’s WOFL FOX 35.
March 2017 A rattlesnake bit Tampa resident Elijah Vaughn, then 5, while he and his family were at a relative’s house on Fort Florida Point Road, according to media reports.
2015 -A Super Bowl snack of five small alligators became a recipe for trouble for a DeBary man. The man was arrested and charged with possession and taking alligators without a proper tag, the Orlando Sentinel said.
1999 -Gemini Springs peacocks vanished from the county park. The only evidence left behind: piles of feathers in four separate locations around the park, according to the Daytona Beach News Journal.
2007- The big DeBary animal story this year was the hermaphrodite deer bagged by a DeBary man.