Investigators in Southern Carolina have been baffled by the recent violent deaths of horses.

The attacks have targeted five horses, with three dead — one dying outright and two others euthanized. The attacks were in Greenville and Spartanburg, cites in the northwest part of the state. In Greenville, one animal was shot to death, while another suffered cuts. In Spartanburg, three were found will cuts all along the hind legs and stomachs.

“What we are not sure of is whether or not the wounds are from [a] human or wild animal. That's one of the things we are investigating,” said Jamie Nelson, environmental enforcement director for Spartanburg County.

Nelson also said that these incidents were unlike any he’d seen in 25 years of working in animal control.

“Our office has also been in contact with the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED), which is formally involved at this point, and will continue to keep a close eye on the situation as it unfolds,” Gov. Henry McMaster said in a statement.

In 1993, the New York Times reported on a man who killed 13 to 15 show horses from 1982 to 1991, with the owners collecting hundreds of thousands from insurance.

Two horses graze peacefully in the playground of a school that was closed four years ago Two horses graze peacefully in the playground of a school that was closed four years ago Photo: AFP / Daniel MIHAILESCU