The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Department has released a preliminary report on the circumstances surrounding the mysterious death of Eric “Otter” Stratton, a former California physician, whose college hijinks were chronicled in the 1978 film, Animal House. Stratton was beaten, then shot to death near a pond in the 300 block of East Venice Boulevard in Venice.
The official report states that Morrell Denton, 96, and Christopher Janssen, 36, were treated for cuts and bruises at Venice Medical Center and released. Another man involved in the incident, Raymond Duval, 53, was not injured. Listen, if you dare, to chilling audio of 9-1-1 call.
Working from statements from the three men, police theorize that Stratton, 74, was returning to his Venice Ave. apartment around 4:30 AM Thursday morning after a night of excessive drinking and carousing, as was his custom since his college days. He stopped to urinate near a retention pond and, upon exiting through the underbrush, was startled by the presence of the elderly Denton, who was out for his usual 4:00 AM stroll around the neighborhood, surreptitiously checking for homeowner’s association violations. He began berating the drunken Stratton for such dissolute behavior and Stratton then, apparently, attacked Denton, attracting the attention of Janssen and Duval, who, serendipitously, just happened to be doing a little yard work at 4:30 in the morning that particular Thursday.
Using a Sears Craftsman bow handle rake and a Garden Weasel rotary cultivator, the two men beat Stratton about the head and body to stop his attack on their neighbor, Denton, knocking Stratton unconscious. While the two men tended their wounds, Sheriff’s Dept. deputies arrived at the scene, having received numerous calls from neighbors who were out and about, going about their normal daily routine during the time of the 4:30 AM attack.
At that point, deputies say, Stratton regained consciousness and tried to drag his bleeding, broken body into the underbrush in a futile attempt to flee. The eight deputies, fearing for their safety, as well as for that of the crowd of around 60 people who had gathered at the scene around 4:45 AM, emptied their weapons at the suspect at point-blank range, striking the prone Stratton three times in the back. He was later pronounced dead at the scene.
When informed of the tragic death of his former fraternity brother at Faber University, former U.S. Senator, John Blutarsky (R) Utah, released this statement: “I am shocked and saddened at the untimely passing of Eric. While some choose to remember Eric as a womanizer, a conniver and a drunk, I choose to remember Eric as the fun-loving “Otter” from our college days at Delta House at Faber U. The last time I heard from Eric was just after his medical license was revoked following the scandal regarding his gynecology practice in Hollywood. He asked if I could help him secure a position with HHS. Given his checkered past and unseemly lifestyle, however, I told him that I thought he would be more suited for political office. My wife, Mandy, and I express our deepest condolences to the Stratton family.”
Robert Hoover, noted high-profile Baltimore defense attorney, expressed outrage at, what he calls, the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of his friend Stratton. “I intend to delve into this matter with all legal means available. I find it highly suspicious that the current mayor of Venice is Carmine DePasto, who was the mayor of Faber, PA, when our Delta Tau Chi fraternity was involved in an unfortunate incident in the town back in our college days. It would not surprise me to find out that Mayor DePasto was involved in this killing, as Otter and Mrs. DePasto were rumored to have been romantically linked in the past.”
Sarasota County Sheriff, Tom Knight, has announced that the eight deputies involved in the shooting death of Eric “Otter” Stratton have been placed on ‘double secret probation,” pending the outcome of their investigation.
Eric "Otter" Stratton: 1936-2010 "May your last road trip be your best......"