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Teens Charged With Cooking Parrot

April 10, 1998

BETTENDORF, Iowa (AP) _ A man returned home from a night out and found someone had broken in and cooked his pet parrot, Winston, in the microwave. Two teen-age boys were held.

``He could never say Winston, but he could say his nickname, which was Winnie the Pooh Bird,″ said the grieving owner, John Freiburger Jr.

``This is sick. We considered him part of the family.″

Freiburger returned from a concert Sunday night to find that someone had gotten in and stolen a tape player and a camera. Then they saw smoke coming from the microwave and the dead Senegal tropical parrot inside.

The 6- to 8-inch bird had fit easily into the oven.

Bettendorf police detective Ted Heitz said 16- and 15-year-old boys, both of Bettendorf, are being held in the juvenile detention center in Davenport. Both face charges of third-degree burglary and animal neglect.

``Despite the shock value, animal neglect is only an aggravated misdemeanor,″ Heitz said.

Still, that could mean up to two years in jail for each of the boys, both of whom already had criminal records, police said.

Heitz said the boys admitted being in the house, ``but neither one will talk about the parrot.″

Freiburger paid $500 for the bird four months ago. Winston was supposed to live 40 to 50 years.

``There was a waiting list for the parrot,″ he said. ``I got it because they thought I would give him a good home.″