who is the cat killer?

af­ter 400 deaths – and count­ing – the cul­prit still avoids cap­ture...

Pick Me Up! - - CONTENTS -

Most cat own­ers wouldn’t think twice about let­ting their pet go out­side. Open the door and out goes Mr Whiskers.

Tragedies can hap­pen, of course. A fight with an­other cat, maybe. At worst, they could be hit by a car.

But the past three years have seen a new threat hit the head­lines.

A cat se­rial killer has butchered hun­dreds of beloved fam­ily pets and then left the mu­ti­lated bod­ies out in the open for the own­ers to find.

Re­ports of hor­ri­fy­ing cat mu­ti­la­tions first started cir­cu­lat­ing around south Lon­don in 2014.

Now, over 400 deaths later, the killer re­mains on the loose, with the dis­cov­ery of a new body be­ing re­ported every few weeks.

When the cat corpses be­gan to be found in dis­turb­ing num­bers, a pat­tern was spot­ted fairly quickly.

Firstly, the killer seemed to make no ef­fort to hide the bod­ies. In­stead, the corpses were dis­cov­ered in parks, schools and even in gar­dens.

Many had also been de­cap­i­tated, or had limbs or the tail miss­ing, and there was usu­ally very lit­tle blood.

A lot of the early cases were re­ported in Croy­don, earn­ing the cul­prit the nick­name of The Croy­don Cat Killer. But he had also struck in other ar­eas of Lon­don, in­clud­ing Charl­ton, Peck­ham, Mitcham, Streatham and oth­ers.

It was cat-res­cue char­ity South Nor­wood An­i­mal Res­cue and Lib­erty (SNARL) that first took 12 cases to the Metropoli­tan Po­lice.

And in late 2015, an of­fi­cial task force called Op­er­a­tion Takahe was set up to bring the killer to jus­tice.

‘Some peo­ple may scoff at this,’ De­tec­tive Sergeant Andy Collin, the man in charge of the op­er­a­tion, told the BBC, ‘ but the loss that own­ers are feel­ing is very real.’

It was true – the killings have left a trail of sor­row. One cat owner was over­whelmed with grief when the re­mains of her beloved pet, Scooter, were found on a neigh­bour’s lawn.

She’d been sliced open from head to ab­domen, her tail was miss­ing and her en­trails had been ripped out and placed be­side her body. Talk­ing about the atroc­ity, the owner said, ‘I’ve never been jit­tery in my en­tire life.’ But now she’s ner­vous about let­ting her other cat go out­side. ‘I didn’t think to lock my cats up at night,’ she said. ‘But if I had, Scooter would still be alive.’ SNARL founder Boudicca Ris­ing agrees that cat own­ers con­cerned about the killer strik­ing in their area are faced with a tough de­ci­sion.

‘It’s hard to take away a cat’s free­dom,’ she said. ‘But I’d ad­vise keep­ing your pets in­doors at night for their own safety.’

Boudicca added that the own­ers of the dead pets have been af­fected by a vi­o­lent crime, and the trauma can be over­whelm­ing.

‘They go through a very tragic griev­ing process,’ she said.

In fact, through SNARL, many of these own­ers have man­aged to form an on­line sup­port net­work to help each other through their losses.

In June 2017, SNARL ar­ranged a me­mo­rial ser­vice for own­ers who’d lost their pets.

The group gath­ered at a meet­ing hall in Croy­don to sing songs and light can­dles for the vic­tims.

Even­tu­ally, the killer branched out to other ar­eas, mostly within the M25, the mo­tor­way that rings Greater Lon­don.

This prompted the use of a new nick­name – the M25 Cat Killer.

But the bod­ies of cats who’d clearly suf­fered sim­i­lar fates popped up across the coun­try, even as far away as Birm­ing­ham, Manch­ester, Sh­effield and Portsmouth.

Where pos­si­ble, Boudicca and her SNARL co-founder Tony Jenk­ins are called to the scene to as­sist and di­rect po­lice us­ing their knowl­edge of the case.

‘The first cat we brought in was called Am­ber,’ said Boudicca. ‘The vet

Po­lice have spent more than 1,020 hours in­ves­ti­gat­ing the killings since De­cem­ber 2015

found that she’d been killed by blunt-force trauma, and her head and tail had been cut off with a knife.’

Other bod­ies re­cov­ered showed sim­i­lar re­sults.

Thanks to the ini­tial post­mortems ar­ranged by SNARL and the RSPCA, po­lice have been able to build up a pic­ture of the killer’s meth­ods.

He strikes mostly in sub­ur­ban, res­i­den­tial ar­eas, and usu­ally at night.

In sev­eral cases, cer­tain types of food have been dis­cov­ered in the dead cats’ stom­achs that the own­ers def­i­nitely hadn’t given them.

The killer clearly lures the an­i­mals with food be­fore killing them quickly with blunt-force trauma.

The lack of blood on the scene sug­gests that he waits for the blood to co­ag­u­late be­fore start­ing to dis­mem­ber the bod­ies. The killer’s blood lust ap­par­ently also ex­tends to rab­bits and foxes, as sev­eral were found in a sim­i­lar con­di­tion to the slaugh­tered cats. SNARL and po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tors are cer­tain that their cul­prit is a man, if in­deed it is just one per­son.

‘Sta­tis­ti­cally, it tends to be male se­rial killers who mu­ti­late their vic­tims,’ said Boudicca.

Pos­si­ble sight­ings have de­scribed the wanted man as in his 40s with short, brown hair, dressed in dark cloth­ing.

It’s been sug­gested he may have a job that means he moves around the coun­try.

The Na­tional Crime Agency cre­ated a pro­file sug­gest­ing that the killer’s rea­son for at­tack­ing fe­lines could come from a deeper prob­lem with women, or a sin­gle woman. Det Sgt Collin agrees.

‘Cats are tar­geted be­cause they’re as­so­ci­ated with the fem­i­nine,’ he said. ‘The killer can’t deal with a woman or women who are trou­bling him.’

Dr Adam Lynes, a lec­turer in Crim­i­nol­ogy at Birm­ing­ham City Univer­sity, also drew up a pro­file of the killer.

He ar­gues that the killer slaugh­ters the cats and dis­plays the car­casses in such a pub­lic way to get the at­ten­tion of the own­ers and at­tack the idea of sub­ur­ban fam­ily life.

Dr Lynes asks, ‘Could the Croy­don cat rip­per be tar­get­ing and mu­ti­lat­ing these cats as a means to gain the at­ten­tion of oth­ers that they in some way per­ceive as a source of their own frus­tra­tions?’

But with no CCTV footage, and no DNA, the killer still roams free.

Det Sgt Collin ad­mits be­ing ‘mas­sively frus­trated’ by the lack of an ar­rest.

For Boudicca and Tony, it’s a mat­ter of when rather than if.

‘Sooner or later, he [the killer] will make a mis­take,’ Boudicca says. ‘We just have to act quickly when he does.’

Poor Am­ber fell vic­tim in Croy­don

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