The dispute took a decidedly sinister turn last Thursday morning when Christine Månsson (whose real name has been withheld at her request) woke up and walked out to the family's garden to feed their pet rabbit at their home in Landskrona in southern Sweden.
The scene she stumbled across at the house's front gate left the mother of two in shock.
The rabbit's decapitated head. It's feet and limbs cut off; its entrails strewn across the ground.
“I see the remains of my rabbit’s body…it’s in my mind all the time,” Månsson told The Local. “It’s cruel and it’s cowardly. But it’s too late.”
Police who examined the scene concluded that the rabbit was indeed killed by a human, most likely someone with knowledge about hunting, as the dismemberment was clean-cut and precise.
“I cannot imagine who could do such a horrible thing,” Månsson said. “It’s disgusting.”
The family's garage had been broken into the same night, and Månsson's husband ran outside just in time to see a man biking away in dark clothing, wearing a hat and a jacket with the letter T emblazoned on the back. Thus far that is the only clue.
The brutal butchery of the animal is the latest development in a dramatic dispute between local figure skating clubs that has shaken the coastal town of roughly 40,000 inhabitants. Skates have been stolen, club members have received anonymous threat letters. And now a pet has been killed in an unlikely feud between the town's two figure-skating organizations, GF Sport Figure-Skating, and the Landskrona Figure Skating and Sport Club (LKSK).
For many years, GF was the only place in town for aspiring figure-skaters to learn the finer points of the sport. But in late August, LKSK began training young skaters, creating a second option for disgruntled GK members who began to question the way the town's original club was run.
“I was involved in the other club last year, and I didn’t like its methods,” said Månsson, who thought GF placed too much emphasis on competition and achievement. “I wanted to create a club that was open for everyone, where kids can just have fun without stressing. So we started LKSK. And that’s when things began to happen.”
Shortly after the club’s opening, Månsson purchased skates for the school, realizing that many parents would want to let their kids first try the sport without investing too much.
“It was an advantage for LKSK,” Månsson said. “No other club has skates and helmets available to loan. But then they just disappeared.”
The skates vanished from Månsson’s car, while her Apple laptop was left untouched – leading her to conclude the theft wasn't the work of an ordinary burglar.
And the mystery is not one-sided. Meanwhile at GF, treasurer Pauline Kronvall received a menacing message.
"I found the first letter in my mailbox in September, right after we had opened the skating school for the year," Kronvall told the local Helsingborgs Dagblad newspaper. It said I should leave the club's board, or my kids would be murdered."
Police attempted to investigate the matter but the investigation was dropped when they could not find any clues. Since then, Kronvall has received two addition letters threatening her family.
"I started looking over my shoulder when walking alone in the ice hall," Kronvall said. "I don't know if these are empty threats, or serious."
The death threats were reported to police and members GK and officials with the city were informed. However, the police investigation was later dropped due to a lack of evidence.
Members from both clubs have been threatened, and it is in unclear if there is any connection between the burglaries, the letters, and the rabbit murder. But vendetta or coincidence, Månsson said there is definitely bad blood between the clubs. One 14-year-old skater with LKSK was reportedly threatened by a member of GF, although the exact nature of the threat has not been confirmed. But Månsson intends to carry on as always.
“I don’t know who this is, but I believe the goal is to scare us. The only thing I can imagine is that they want us to quit the club,” Månsson speculated. “But I cannot live my life being afraid. You can’t watch your kids or your house all the time, and you can’t just lock the doors and stay inside all your life.
“I’ve taken what precautions I can. Now my main goal is just stay positive and focused.”