Marine experts remain baffled by the sudden and unprovoked assault on the trainer. Detectives, however, are piecing together the killer's sordid past and are shocked to discover his extensive rap sheet:
- April, 1985: A young orca whale sticks up a bait shop on a dare near Seattle, WA, tail-whipping the owner and two employees, one critically, in the process. He was later arrested in Puget Sound after being identified by distinctive gang tattoos on his dorsal fin. He is charged with assault, robbery and attempted manslaughter. Mother claimed that he'd been swimming with the wrong pod lately, that he's really just a nice, quiet killer whale. Sentenced to 8-10 years, lawyer pleads term down to 2 1/2 years since he is a first-time juvenile offender.
- October, 1990: The orca's probation officer helps him secure a job with Sealand of the Pacific, where he takes on the stage name of "Orville, the Orca" and begins his show business career. He seems to be a natural and is soon the headliner at the now defunct marine park.
- June, 1991: In a fit of rage, Orville drags trainer Keltie Byrne underwater to her death in front of a crowd of spectators. The two were said to have been inseparable since Orville's earliest days at the park and their friendship had blossomed into romance. In recent days, however, Orville had become increasingly agitated, accusing Byrne of seeing other mammals, sparking the attack. Awaiting trial, Orville jumps bail and flees the country.
- December, 1995: While living off the coast of Florida under an assumed name, Orville, now broke, homeless and surviving off the handouts from local fishing charters for turning a few tricks, wangled an interview with SeaWorld in Orlando under the alias of "Raoul." He is hired for a supporting role in the show, but quickly rises, once again, to the role of headliner. He is known throughout the SeaWorld Park system as a lothario and goes on to father 13 offspring. Renamed "Tilikum" by a SeaWorld publicist.
- May, 1999: After a night of drinking and inhaling sardines, park workers the next morning find the lifeless, naked body of one Daniel Dukes sprawled across the back of Tilikum. Rumors of homosexuality send the orca into despair and deep depression, which he combats with excessive amounts of prescription drugs, eventually becoming addicted to the medications. He would spend the next two years trying to shake the demon of drugs, suffering frequent relapses along the way, eventually becoming clean and sober with the help of the park's medical staff.
- The 2000s: Tilikum enjoys several years of relative peace and prosperity at the Orlando theme park, relishing his role as stunt double for various Shamu whales at the park and continuing to sire calves with prodigious regularity in his role as the "Stud of SeaWorld." "Having a whale of a time--ha ha," he would write to his mother.
- February, 2010: Tilikum now swims accused in the drowning death of trainer, Dawn Brancheau.
PETA and the Humane Society will be handling Tilikum's defense, citing mitigating circumstances for his recent behavior, including harrassment by the trained seals and longer working hours. Legal experts agree that the defense will have its work cut out for them, as the witnesses and accompanying amateur video all seem to point to an unprovoked attack by the whale, although PETA does have a history of getting perpetrators of animal against human attackers reduced charges and lesser sentences.
PETA has long claimed that orcas and other marine mammals should never be subjected to the grueling performance schedules and confined living conditions that are prevalent in today's marine amusement parks. "It was only a matter of time before one of them snapped," said a PETA spokesperson. "Why do you think they call them "killer whales?" Everything seems to be fine, then one day one of these creatures gets a bug in his blowhole and all hell breaks loose. He was a loaded spear gun just waiting to go off. So, whose fault is it, really?"
Tilikum, a.k.a "Tilly", a.k.a "Orville, the Orca," a.k.a "Raoul," a.k.a "Tillah, The Killah," a.k.a "T-Doggy-Dogg."