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Citizen detectives from “Don't F**k With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer” explained to a CrimeCon audience why it’s so important to stop animal abusers.
“John Green” and Deanna Thompson joined their fellow citizen detective Muervet Douglas, as well as expert Dr. Kris Mohandie, to discuss how animal abuse is a precursor to violence against humans.
Mohandie, a clinical, police, and forensic psychologist, stated clearly on Saturday that animal abusers often escalate to killing humans. He said serial killers “enjoy the suffering of other creatures" and said they frequently try it out "with a nonconsensual victim who can’t speak for itself."
That seems to have been the case with mass killer Luke Woodham as well. In 1997, the 16-year-old killed his mother before walking into his Pearl, Mississippi high school and opening fire, killing two classmates and injuring seven others. Before the attack, Woodham wrote in his journal that he'd tortured and killed his dog, referring to the incident as his "first kill," according to an LA Times story from the time.
According to Mohandie, 48% of convicted rapists and 30% of child molesters have a history of animal cruelty.
Despite that, the panel members agreed that the criminal justice system doesn’t take the issue as seriously as they would like. Part of that, they pointed out, is because it's sometimes difficult for people to acknowledge animal abuse at all.
“It’s an uncomfortable subject for many,” Thompson said, “but this behavior is so deviant and so important that a conversation needs to be had.”
With the Animal Beta Project, Thompson, Green and Douglas do more than just hold conversations on the subject. They hunt down animal abusers. The trio worked together to capture Canadian murderer Luka Magnotta, a man who uploaded horrific animal abuse videos before murdering college student Jun Lin. They then joined forces to form the Animal Beta Project so they could capture more abusers and killers.
Douglas spoke about the Ashley Nicole Richards and Brent Justice case, two people in Texas who made animal torture videos, including one in which they slowly crushed a pitbull puppy to death with heels in 2012. Douglas, who has pitbulls, called the video "the worst of the worst." The Animal Beta Project helped law enforcement capture the pair by zeroing in on a newspaper in the animal abuse video and realizing it was a Houston Chronicle. Richards and Justice eventually arrested and convicted. Richards received a 10-year state sentence and Justice got 50 years behind bars, according to local station KHOU, two of the lengthiest animal abuse sentences to date. They also received federal sentences as well.
While specifying that she supports law enforcement, Thompson expressed frustration that the judicial system doesn't take animal abuse as seriously as other crimes. She vowed, along with her colleagues to continue to raise awareness about it.
The trio gave the Austin, Texas crowd some tips for if they ever encounter animal abuse videos:
Don’t report it and get it taken down without recording all the footage first. “The internet is a crime scene,” Green said, specifying the video is evidence needed to assist the case.
Also, they recommend not attacking or criticizing the uploader. They may delete their profiles. Instead, they said you could try befriending them and get information about who they are and where they live.
CrimeCon 2021 is presented by Oxygen.
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