The mutilated bodies of seven cats have been found throughout Washington state, leading police to believe a serial animal murderer is on the loose.
In each incident, the cats' spines were removed from the body with a scalpel, with the rest of the caracasses left on display in areas they were likely to be discovered, Thurston County Animal Services officer Erika Johnson told Q13, a Seattle, Washington-based Fox affiliate.
“I feel for the animal owners because I’m an animal owner myself and just the manner these animals have died is extremely horrific. ... This is not normal, and it’s very sick behavior," said Johnson.
Johnson says that the surgical nature of the cuts, along with the discovery of a surgical glove next to one of the bodies, means that the killings are the work of a human being.
Investigators are working to see if they can find DNA samples on the animals that may lead them to a suspect.
Some residents now fear that the killer may escalate the attacks.
“My fear is, if you’re going to do cats, what’s next?” asked Patrick Swan, whose cat was found cut in half, to Tribune Media.
Police are telling locals to keep their pets indoors, according to The Washington Post.
Pasado’s Safe Haven, an anti-cruelty organization and animal sanctuary, is offering a $3,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction of the killer.
The grieving pet owners fondly remembered their slain animals.
“He was a friend to not only other cats but dogs as well,” Debbie Drake wrote on Facebook of her murdered cat Tarot. “I like to think he was like the cat sheriff of the west side. He wandered his turf and hung with his posse.”
Kathy Harrigan, owner of a tabby named Harley that was found killed on Aug. 5, also grieved.
“He was about 20 years old. He was deaf,” said Harrigan to Q13. She had been taking care of him for the last two years. “He had found a place under a tree in our yard so we took him in. Built him a house and kept him warm over the next couple of winters."
In Washington state, the maximum jail sentence for a felony animal offense is five years, according to Humane Society of the United States. The offender may also pay up to $10,000 in fines.
[Photo: Twitter @pasados]