Photos courtesy of the Deadanimalsikilled Instagram page
One day last year, a blurry photo of a dead rodent popped onto hundreds of Instagram feeds. It was taken by someone who went by Deadanimalsikilled, and the caption was simple: "Tuesday. Dead rat." No one had knowingly followed the account, so most immediately unfollowed and kept scrolling through their photos. But a few were intrigued, or too lazy to unfollow, or maybe they just hated rats.
Those who stuck around with Deadanimalsikilled were treated to regular posts from the account—mostly rats and other vermin, but sometimes a dead bird or a raccoon. Then there was a blue heron with a broken neck, a bloody squirrel with its head bashed in, and a house plant desperately in need of water. "Not an animal, but I killed it," the caption read.
The posts got zanier and less realistic—a dead cow, a murdered peacock, a bald eagle on its back in the snow. Deadanimalsikilled was a one-note joke account like Helen Keller's Instagram, which has nothing but all-black photos. It seemed destined to rattle around an obscure corner of Instagram until its owner got bored of scouring Yahoo Images for dead sheep.
But then a German girl stumbled across the account and the satire was lost in translation. Enraged, she and her friends started an all-out internet offensive against Deadanimalsikilled, spamming social media sites with a call to action against what they assumed was a budding psychopath. Over the next few months, the account's follower count skyrocketed. Every photo got at least 100 comments—most were in German or broken English, but all shared similar hateful sentiments.
I discovered Deadanimalsikilled around the same time as the European youth, but didn't pay much attention until I read one comment on a photo of a dead pig.
"In Germany we had a place for you," it said. "That place was Auschwitz. Now step in the train." Yikes.
I tracked down Deadanimalsikilled, curious about what type of person gets his kicks from stirring up that kind of hate. Is he an artist? Is this a sociological study? Is he making a statement about the internet's witchhunt culture? Nope. He's just a kid in New York who doesn't understand why people can't take a joke.
When I spoke to him, his girlfriend was on the verge of leaving because of the account, his family was against him, and his band had just been kicked off of a tour because he apparently promoted animal abuse. He says he'll never stop.
VICE: What happened to you as a child? Why do you need to make everybody hate you?
Deadanimalsikilled: Maybe I just didn't get enough attention. Maybe if people cared about me more, I wouldn't be forced to post such terrible pictures.
Where do you get the photos?
I usually get the images from Yahoo, because I thought that it would be harder for people to find them on Google and realize I was fake. I don't know if that logic makes sense. I'm just trying to troll people and make them feel really bad.
It seems like they're trying to make you feel bad, too. How long have you been doing this?
I've been doing running Deadanimalsikilled since October 2013. I started with a mouse, and I'm working my way up into larger and larger game. I feel like that's what a serial killer would do. First a rat, then a crow, and so on.
I get a lot of death threats. People want me dead.
How did people find out about you? How did you even get followers in the first place?
I had a personal Instagram account with almost 1,000 friends, but it seemed like the whole app was people bragging about themselves. I got really tired of it. So one day I just changed my name to Deadanimalsikilled, deleted all my photos, and posted the rat. I lost about 700 followers overnight, but a few stayed.
Your true fans.
And then a lot of 14-year-old equestrian girls in Germany discovered me and became very interested. They've started hashtags against me, asked Instagram to ban me, and made memes about how I'm terrible. People tweet about me pretty often. I like to screencap the best comments and feature them.
On commentor said, "You're crazy. I'm speechless really! I don't know what to write, it's just the most horrible to the world that make me so mad. You're sick."
Often when people will tell me I'm sick, I'll respond with, "I know. I need help. Please help." They don't normally respond.
Do people in your life know you do this?
People have started to find out. My family—well, my mom—she gets it. She understands that I'm making a joke. But she begged me not to talk to you or let you use my real name. She's convinced my life will be ruined. And my live-in girlfriend really hates it. She loves animals and doesn't find any humor in any of this.
Yet you continue to post photos of dead creatures.
I do it discreetly, like when she's in the shower or something. I can't mention it. If I mention it, then the whole day is ruined. She'll be in a terrible mood. My band has gotten kicked off of tours because of the account, too.
I was on my way to Boston to play a show when I got a text from the headliner. He'd found the Instagram, and he said, "It's offensive and shows a horrible side of character." He said he's glad I'm "into the killing of innocent creatures," and asked if I'd kill our mutual friend's cat. I guess he didn't think it was funny.
Ultimately, I think the funny thing is the idea that there's a young and dumb psychopath posting his journey toward becoming a serial killer on Instagram.
How often do you post?
I'm trying to post every day. I love it. It's hard to keep finding the right photos. There's a very specific dead animal photo I look for. It's got to be a POV shot, looking down over a limp body.
There are plenty of photos of eviscerated animals online. But I like it when there's barely any wounds. That way, maybe they've been poisoned. Maybe this character I've created likes to poison alpacas and bald eagles! Actually, someone was really mad about the bald eagle post because they said I killed the eagle of their country. I liked that line a lot.
The eagle one was good, because it almost looks like it got a bloody nose. Did you know that eagles get bloody noses when you kill them?
Generally I don't post blood because I get reported to Instagram about 15 times a day. I don't want them to remove my photos because of gore. So far [the administrators] have been totally amicable. They have a sense of humor, I guess.
Is there anything you wouldn't kill?
I'd feel bad posting a dead kitten today, but I'm slowly getting desensitized. I might post one in a couple months.
What are some of your favorite comments?
Let's see. "If I knew where you lived, I would kill you and take a picture of it and put it on Instagram. How would you feel, you Ass Birth." I like that. Calling someone an ass birth is pretty original.
I got a comment from a ten-year-old boy in Germany who sounded like the Dalai Lama: "There is something in this world, made you feel what this animal's had to feel, and I am the only one who posts this moment on Instagram." I pondered that one for a while.
You've been at it a year. Are you ever going to stop?
When you called me to meet for an interview today, my girlfriend was right next to me. She said, "Please don't go do that." My mom is going to hate this, too. Yet here I am. I just can't stop.
You're addicted. You're hooked.
A year from now, you're going to find out that I actually killed all these animals. Actually, can you not use my real name in this interview?
If you haven't seen enough photos of dead animals you can look at his Instagram account here.
Follow River Donaghey on Twitter.