Following two years of incarceration for perpetrating a series of fish kills on the East End, prolific mehaden killer Reb Raymer is back on the streets this week. The Hampton Bays resident, who holds a longstanding grudge against the baitfish, also known as bunker, is responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of menhaden between June 2015 and November 2016 when he was finally arrested for his crimes.
Raymer was convicted of ecoterrorism and cruelty to animals in Hamptons Superior Court early last year, where he was sentenced to two years in prison. He was released early thanks to good behavior and time served before his conviction, and returned home Monday morning.
“I’m not sorry for what I’ve done,” Raymer said as he entered his house near Shinnecock Canal on Monday. “Perhaps I was a bit glib in taking responsibility for all those initial fish kills,” he continued. “I should have kept my mouth shut, but who knew a man could be imprisoned for terminating those monsters, which get fished legally and eaten by other fish, en masse, on a daily basis, I might add.”
The fish slayer first came to the attention of Hamptons Police Department after he claimed responsibility for a pair of fish kills in Riverhead’s Peconic River during the summer of 2015. Raymer left tens of thousands of bunker dead, explaining at the time, “First I started picking them off with my 30 ought six, but those buggers kept comin’, so when I ran out of shells I went after ‘em with my fishing knife. And when the knife slipped and I dropped it into the river, I went to work with my bare hands.”
Later, when a third fish kill knocked off even greater numbers of menhaden in Shinnecock Canal last November, police knew where to look for the culprit. A search of Raymer’s nearby residence revealed a home made gadget marked “oxygen depleter device”—along with hundreds of photos and articles about bunker fish, as well as scrawled ravings decrying the aquatic species—hidden in a secret room above his garage.
He told anyone who would listen that his hatred for the fish stems from the death of his father, who drowned after a school of bunker knocked him out of his boat when Raymer was just nine years old.
When asked on Monday if he’d kill again, Raymer merely grunted and entered his house, slamming the door behind him.
“We’ll be keeping a very close eye on Mr. Raymer,” Greater Hamptons District Attorney Gil Harris said on the Friday before his release. “If he so much as looks at a bunker fish wrong, we’ll have something to say about it,” Harris continued. “Should his thirst for bunker blood remain, I’d suggest Mr. Raymer take up with a commercial fishing outfit and do his killing above board. If another fish kill pops up in the coming months, you can be sure he’ll be the first person we visit.”