By Brian Chasnoff
Wolfie Blackheart is not an ordinary 18-year-old.
She believes she is a wolf – technically, a werewolf – and so she wears a tail. She also wears a harness in case someone special wants to drag her around.
And last week, she used a pocketknife in her kitchen to decapitate a dog – already dead, according to Wolfie – that had been missing since Jan. 5.
“I severed the head, boiled the head,” Wolfie said. “People make the mistake of hacking the spine, which will fracture the skull.”
She added, “You also have to put (the head) outside for the brains to leak out.”
Before the teenager carted the cranium to the woods, someone held it up and snapped a photograph of it inside her Northwest Side house – a shot that ended up on the Internet.
Within days, the photo had spurred an aggressive animal cruelty investigation by Animal Care Services and the San Antonio Police Department.
It also inspired at least one so-called troll – a savvy, anonymous Internet user – to hack into Wolfie’s personal accounts, engage in amateur sleuthing and issue threats to those deemed responsible for the dog’s fate.
Bearing the brunt of these attacks, Wolfie – born Sarah Rodriguez – says she’s guilty of nothing more than an abiding love for taxidermy.
“I would never kill a canine,” she said. “I am a canine.”
Lisa Rodriguez, Wolfie’s mom, said she supports her daughter’s career goal.
“I say, ‘Don’t sever heads in front of me,’” she said. “She usually does it in the woods.”
Wolfie cares lovingly for two huskies in the backyard.
Her room is a cluttered den plastered with posters of anime characters and howling wolves. On a high shelf, she collects heads, including the cleaned skulls of a coyote, ram and wild boar.
When a car ran over Pixie – her “best friend” – Wolfie cut off the chihuahua’s tiny head, cleaned it and placed it in a jar.
“I get requests on cats and stuff,” she said.
Wolfie also has collected more than a dozen swords, including a “two-handled war sword” made of carbon steel and a katana blade from Japan.
She said investigators knocked on her door Friday with a search warrant.
“When they saw her room, they had to call every single cop to her room,” said her mother, who lives in the home. “The spots on the wall, they thought it was blood. It’s catsup. The kids had a fight. They’re teenagers.”
She added, “Wolfie does have a bloody refrigerator, but they’re all dead animals.”
Crime scene investigators swabbed the walls. Authorities confiscated the dog’s head. No one could find the body.
‘The sweetest dog’
A friend dropped off a stray dog last year at the Northwest Side house of Kathy Silva, and the mother of four wasn’t enthralled.
“Don’t get too used to him,” she told her daughters.
But the black-flecked chow mix won the family members’ hearts. They named him Rigsby, after the road on which he was found.
“He started being real protective of the kids and our house,” Silva said. “He was the sweetest dog ever.”
Her 14-year-old daughter promised to care for the new pet. She even offered her own birthday money to pay for the dog’s shots.
But on Jan. 5, Rigsby went missing from the family’s backyard.
Two weeks later, on Jan. 20, a teenager – likely a troll – stopped Silva near her home. Clutching a crumpled piece of paper, he told her he was conducting a survey on dogs in the neighborhood.
“We used to have a dog,” Silva told him, “but he ran away.”
That same day, a neighbor showed Silva a Web site with the photo of a dog’s severed head. That site and others included inflammatory and convoluted theories about who had done it.
“My heart pretty much sank,” Silva said, “because when I saw that picture, I said, ‘That’s Rigsby.’”
She called police.
Investigators studied the Web site, noting a post from a user who wrote that the dog had been hit by a car and “it would be fun to desecrate the corpse,” according to an affidavit for a search warrant.
Authorities also noted the criminal history of Wolfie, whose name appeared on the site.
A dropout since ninth grade, Wolfie walked onto a campus in the Northside ISD a year or two ago with a “large curved blade” that “looks like it’s used to cut someone’s head off,” according to the affidavit.
She was arrested and charged with possession of the weapon.
“I can explain that,” Wolfie’s mother said. “That was a skinning knife.”
Wolfie has Tourette’s syndrome, which causes her to yip – a result of head trauma suffered in a car crash about a decade ago, her mother said.
And she’s into a lifestyle that involves bondage, which necessitates a dog collar.
“The collar means I belong to someone,” she said. “It’s not a fashion statement.”
She’s also a member of a “wolf pack.”
“I’m a wolf, and I have a group of other friends who are canines,” she said.
Wolfie said a friend called her last week and asked her to decapitate a dog that had been hit by a car.
“He was gone. His tongue was dried,” she said. “The cause of death, I’m almost 100 percent sure, was blunt trauma.”
Wolfie placed the animal on her kitchen counter and severed the windpipe, tendons and spine. She said a friend photographed the head while she was boiling the water that would melt off the skin.
“I wouldn’t have allowed” the photo, Wolfie said.
Her friends left with the body, Wolfie said, and she put the head in the woods.
Lisa Norwood, an ACS spokeswoman, said the investigation is ongoing. It’s not illegal to cut off the head of a dead dog, she added.
“You can prove that a number of ways forensically,” Norwood said.
At home, Wolfie and her mother are dealing with online smears, threatening phone calls and obscene text messages.
“The Internet’s gone crazy,” Lisa Rodriguez said. “We thought somebody was on our roof last night.”
But she said the wrath is misdirected.
“Wolfie would never harm an animal,” she said. “She likes road kill.”