A few days ago, I was working with an intern. We had a really hectic day (4 shoots–ugh!) and she asked if this was as crazy as it got for me.
I laughed. Because yes, it was intense, but not even a little bit as crazy as some of my past events.
It was at that moment that I remembered one of my craziest days. A day I refer to in my mind as “The Day of the Chicken Lady.”
I will now retell the story, as much as I can remember, from over a year ago.
It was a summer day, at around 4pm. I had already done a couple stories and was mentally ready to go home.
One of the anchors called me to tell me to check out a weird story. He had seen something about shots fired in a Bay Terrace home and then got a bunch of calls from a tipster about it. According to the tipster, one of her neighbors had shot at another neighbor’s child.
Without knowing the ridiculousness of the scenario I was about to behold, my intern and I got in the car and headed to Bay Terrace.
We pulled up to a crowd forming in front of a house. These were the people who had called–they were expecting us. The main tipster was a woman who my intern called “Blonde Big Ang,” although to me the only commonality between the two of them was chest size. Blonde Big Ang was wearing a leopard print bathing suit that left almost nothing to the imagination. You couldn’t help looking at her boobs, and it didn’t help that whenever she got excited, she began touching them erratically.
“I’m so glad you came!” she exclaimed, hands on her chest, “You’ll never believe what happened here!”
And so, she began to tell us. Her neighbor (the one who allegedly fired the gun) was crazy. She had threatened every single one of the neighbors. Every neighbor seemed to have their own horror story about this woman, which they told us loudly, with crazy gleams in their eyes.
Also, they kept telling us, she kept over a dozen chickens in her backyard.
The altercation in question had occurred when a neighbor whose backyard was attached to the Chicken Lady’s was sitting outside with her 11-year-old daughter. The daughter decided to throw pieces of chalk at the chickens. This set the Chicken Lady off. She began screaming and cursing at them about harming her beloved chickens.
Later that day, the daughter’s bike was vandalized. They believed the Chicken Lady was the culprit.
But the fight didn’t end there. That night, when the daughter was outside on the porch, Chicken Lady opened her window, took out a gun, and shot at her.
Blonde Big Ang told the story so animatedly that it seemed unreal. I’m still not sure I believe it.
The daughter hadn’t been hurt, but the neighbor called the police. They found an illegal gun and ammunition inside the Chicken Lady’s house, but she was nowhere to be found. They took the chickens inside and informed animal control of the situation.
By this point in the story, one of the neighbors was sobbing. Turned out it was the woman whose daughter had been fired at. She told me she had sent her kids away with a family member to keep them safe until Chicken Lady was arrested.
I asked to interview her, since she was the only person there who saw the whole incident. She said she was too distraught to be interviewed, and her sister offered to talk. But her sister wasn’t a firsthand witness. I needed the neighbor to go on camera.
After I begged for about 20 minutes, she agreed. But she wouldn’t do the interview in front of her neighbors, so she offered to take me to her backyard, where the shooting had occurred, to do a one-on-one interview.
I began to follow her, my intern trailing dutifully behind me. But when the neighbor saw him following us, she told me she would not be able to talk if he was there. It had to be just us.
I’m not sure why, since she didn’t know me any better than she knew him. I wasn’t sure if she was insane or just really distressed about the situation. Against my better judgment, I instructed my intern to wait behind with Blonde Big Ang and the rest of the crazy neighborhood. I took him aside and told him that if I didn’t come back in 20 minutes, he should go into the house and make sure I hadn’t become the victim of some kind of crazy ritual sacrifice or something.
The lady took me through her house to the backyard, where she showed me what may have been bullet holes in her deck. I began interviewing her, but she was half crying the entire time and her answers were fairly erratic. I wasn’t even entirely sure that she was telling the same story as Blonde Big Ang.
I did notice that Chicken Lady’s yard, which you could see from the porch I was on, was a hot mess. Furniture everywhere, overgrown weeds, a kiddie pool half-filled with murky water. I could believe that the woman was crazy, but then again, so were her neighbors.
After a while, I suggested we go back outside. As I walked out, my intern looked relieved. I don’t think he had it in him to break down a door and save me from a voodoo mating ritual.
The neighbors continued to talk to me, even though I had told them that we were leaving. We had been there about two hours at this point. Finally we lied and said that the anchor had told us that we absolutely needed to get back to the station.
As we got in the car, my intern turned to me and said, “Those people were crazy!”
I nodded and gunned it out of there.
A few weeks later, I got an email about a hazmat incident at the same address. The assignment desk wanted me to go. I told them no.
I never found out if they charged the Chicken Lady with anything more than illegal weapons charges. But I do think of her every time I drive through Bay Terrace.
Mostly I wonder what happened to the chickens.