If you’ve been paying any attention to the court trial for Johnny Depp’s defamation lawsuit against ex-wife Amber Heard, you’ve likely heard his claim that the nail in the coffin for their marriage was a revenge poop Heard (or one of her friends) allegedly dumped on Depp’s side of the bed. Heard blamed the dogs, but Depp disputed this justification given the size of the shit pile. Regardless of who was to blame, this mystery has perhaps been one of the only relatable details to come from the widely sensationalized legal spectacle so far.
Most of us have likely never been on the receiving end of a revenge poop, but who among us hasn’t heard of someone leaving a burning bag of shit on someone else’s doorstep? Or read a headline about, say, a scorned woman dropping a deuce in her cheating boyfriend’s car? As MEL’s Miles Klee puts it, “everyone has a poop bandit in their lives.”
And occasionally, there are legal consequences for such shit-stirring behavior. In 2014, Kimberly Capdevila faced up to $625 in fines and 30 days in jail for sending a quart of cow dung to her neighbors as a response to their complaints about her dog’s barking. The matter was eventually settled after nearly three years, but the prolonged proceedings revealed another juicy surprise: Capdevila had purchased the revenge poop from a third party, PoopSenders.com, an elusive and controversial company that allows people to buy and anonymously send grossly realistic cow, elephant or gorilla shit in the mail.
Per their website, Poop Senders has been covertly sending realistic-seeming animal shit through the U.S. Postal Service since 2007. While they’ve maintained that what they’re doing is totally legal, the disclaimer on their site warns: “You may NOT use our service to threaten, constitute harassment, violate a legal restraint or any other unlawful purpose. The customer agrees this is a gag gift, novelty service for entertainment ONLY and that is their only intention. PoopSenders.com liability to the customer is limited to the price of the product. Customers ordering any items from this web site agree to release PoopSenders.com, its agents, officers and employees of any and all liability associated with the use of our services.”
And according to attorney Brett Snider, “like the classic ‘flaming bag of poo’ prank, it’s the intent behind the poop that counts as far as the law is concerned.” In other words, if you can convince the court the dookie was sent as a practical joke, you can get away with it.
Poop Senders suggests on their website that the gift of shit is a great item to send an ex, a terrible boss or that rich friend you want to “knock down a peg.” But not everyone is in on the “joke” of opening a package of fake shit from an anonymous sender. For example, prosecutor Lilie Schoenack, who received a package of feces while running for State’s Attorney in Barnes County North Dakota in 2018, reported feeling harassed by the gesture. “I feel threatened, and I feel intimidated. That’s what the purpose of sending this was,” Schoenack told local news outlets at the time.
Beyond the information available on their website, very little was known about Poop Senders until an internal dispute within the USPS led to the postal inspector receiving a poop package. As VICE reported, the USPS Office of the Inspector General issued a subpoena for records to PoopSenders.com in November 2019 as a result. Through this, court documents pointed to a father and son in Pittsburg, John and John Edward Santonastaso, as the shit heads. The United States of America v. Poop Senders case was eventually dismissed in December 2021 after the Santonastasos eventually complied and turned over their records.
But the whole legal debacle hasn’t appeared to slow down business. In fact, the company is offering a spring 2022 special: three whole pounds of animal dung for the low, low price of $49.95, marked down from $99.95 — just in case you haven’t come up with an idea for a Mother’s Day present yet.