A year-long investigation into a Tennessee cockfighting operation ended on Tuesday as authorities finally tied the alias of ringleader Mama Bird Cretin to a real person and moved in for the capture. Troubled pop-country singer Martina McBride was apprehended after a brief shootout at her Nashville home.
McBride’s behavior had grown increasingly erratic over the past couple years, from early reports of drunkenness at public appearances to deliberately inciting riots at some concerts. Recently, she even agreed to tour with the guy who recorded “Badonkadonk” and “I Got My Game On.” “That was when we knew she really had a problem,” said friend Faith Hill. But none of McBride’s prior conduct hinted at cockfighting, or at the pistol-waving confrontation with authorities that transpired at her sprawling Tennessee country estate yesterday.
Detective Jack Barker characterizes the lengthy investigation leading up to the arrest as a series of missed opportunities.
“In hindsight, we might have overlooked a few clues as to Mama Bird’s identity. One of the first guys we arrested expressed fear that the operation’s leader ‘might go all Independence Day on my ass’ if he revealed the name to us. This being Tennessee, we took the song reference as being common parlance rather than a veiled hint. It didn’t even cross our mind to question Martina McBride. She always seems so sweet on TV.”
“Later, an informant who claimed to have seen Mama Bird offered to do a sketch for us. At the time, we didn’t know what a picture of a kid with a bag of leaves had to do with anything. We thought the guy was yanking our chain, you know… or Mama Bird was employed as a gardener. We did question a few leaf-blower operators.”
The major breakthrough came when McBride showed up for a Shape magazine cover shoot with her face and arms covered in scratches and peck marks. Although she claimed to have fallen into a thorny bush, the photographer spotted a bloody feather stuck to the heel of her shoe and contacted authorities.
“Once we got that tip, all the pieces started falling into place, and we began seeing stuff we had missed the first time,” explains Detective Barker. “For example, the known dates of cockfights all matched up with holes in Martina’s tour schedule, and many of the gamecocks were named after Pat Benatar songs.” Just days after receiving the photographer’s tip, police moved in for the arrest.
Although he’s glad to finally have the mastermind of the cockfighting operation behind bars, Barker can’t help but wish the investigation had gone a bit differently: “We could have gotten to the bottom of this a lot faster if we had just run ‘Mama Bird Cretin’ through an anagram solver. But you live and learn, I guess.”
With this case behind him, Barker will next set about tracking down the mysterious Nashville-area fast food holdup man known only as Gravely Ox. “I don’t even know where to start with that one,” he confesses.
Concept by Farce the Music