Between July 2021, and the writing of this article on August 14, 2021, at least thirty-seven cats have been murdered around the Manenberg Township in Cape Town, South Africa.
This article highlights the recent string of feline mutilations and sprees in the past few years, and the killers responsible.
In 1963, J.M. Macdonald, a researcher and psychiatrist, discovered an interesting link between serial murderers. In his research paper, The Threat To Kill, Macdonald associates a triad pattern of animal cruelty, fire-setting, and bedwetting (enuresis), with many serial murderers.
Although this link does not apply to every serial killer, the implications of this theory in association with cat killing sprees should motivate law enforcement to capture the offenders. The main implication being the killer may eventually escalate from cats to human homicides.
Research compiled by the Chicago Police Department discovered, “up to seventy-five percent of domestic violence victims report their assailant have threatened to harm their pets.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) has been including animal violence in their statistics because they believe that “animal cruelty was an early indicator of violent crime.”
Manenberg, Cape Town, South Africa has been the recent victim of a spree of feline murders that has its residents devastated. All the cats that have been discovered have been house cats belonging to local residents.
Manenberg is already crime-ridden and poverty-stricken with large areas controlled by local gangs. To the locals of Manenberg, violence is nothing new, but the citizens see the slaying of family pets as repulsive and sick. Rightly so.
A pathologist employed with the Animal Welfare Society (AWS) stated that “most cats were maliciously and brutally killed by a person or a group of individuals. Some of the animals were severely beaten before being sliced open with a sharp blade and disembowelled. Others had parts of their ribcages, hearts and lungs ripped out.”
Perhaps even more disturbing than the condition was the public displaying of organs as trophies.
Many of the cats have been exhumed, and have had autopsies. An autopsy can help medical examiners determine that the animal was not attacked by another predator (a fox for example), because of the precision and surgical cuts in the bellies of the cats.
The mutilations even seem to increase in depravity. On August 6, Manenberg residents were shocked to find three more mutilated cats. According to the AWS, “They all bore the classic signature of the killer dubbed the Manenberg Cat Serial Killer except this time the nature of the injuries were even more horrific than before.”
“One of the cats was chopped in half - only the top half could be located.”
Another resident discovered a “pregnant cat” butchered and splayed out by her dead kitten fetus.
Alan Perrins, a representative from the Animal Warfare Society, has been vocal about the lack of enthusiasm in solving the recent cat killings.
Although Perrins claims not to know the true motive of the killings, he believes the local police should pursue stronger action.
The Manenberg Police Department is small and perhaps understaffed. Of course, this should not be an excuse for a cat serial killer to go unabated, but the truth is the local police are given very little thought, time, and resources to catching this depraved individual.
Perrins claims that police refused to even pursue the crimes until a “credible witness” came forward. This lack of enthusiasm to solve cases may not just be associated with animal killings either. The Western Cape government set up a speciality office designed to “investigate why SAPS (South African Police Service) refuses to act.”
Cat mutilations aren’t just an international problem. An unknown killer rocked Thurston County in Washington State by mutilating at least ten feline victims.
A medical examiner stated that the “cuts were clean” showing a violent human attack. Many of the corpses were found dismembered, and body parts were displayed in public places such as in the front of churches, front lawns, and children’s parks.
Many cats had had their spinal cords removed and their organs displayed beside their bodies.
Erika Johnson, an animal cruelty investigator, said that the animals were “displayed for people to see. They want people to find these animals. It's like a trophy.
Olly was one victim that fought back against his attacker. They pulled human DNA from under the cat’s nails. Olly was a slightly overweight and cross-eyed fluffy white cat. The cat's owner, Ms. Stockert, remembers that Olly loved sleeping indoors and recalls him as one of the family.
Olly's body was found strangled to death in August 2018. Found at the scene was a surgical glove, which contained feline DNA of another cat named Tubby.
The DNA has provided no match for a suspect.
Thurston Police Department helped in raising a $56,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest of the elusive cat killer. They also formed a ten person task force, equipped with a former homicide detective to chase down any leads.
The killings abruptly stopped in the Thurston cases, but Did the killer stop all together?
Maybe he or she is incarcerated, or perhaps graduated to bigger game, such as humans.
Many people believe the cats are being attacked not by humans, but by foxes, coyotes, or wolves. And sometimes, this is the case.
For over three years, the elusive ‘Croydon Cat Killer’ killed nearly 500 cats and foxes, causing an outrage which escalated to a near moral panic. Media renamed the Croydon moniker to the “M25 Cat Killer” because the murders spread to Manchester, Birmingham, Brighton, and the Isle of Wight.
Police even put out a description of a suspect to look out for, a “white man, in his 40s, short brown hair, dressed in dark clothing, possibly with acne scarring to his face.”
In the Croydon cases, police determined, to vast public skepticism, that the real cat killer was foxes.
With the Brighton cat mutilations, the killer, Steven Bouquet, was caught on CCTV. Between October 2018 and June 2019, Bouquet, a 54-year-old shopping center guard, mutilated and killed at least nine cats.
Slayed were Hannah, Tommy, Alan, Nancy, Gizmo, Kyo, Ollie, Hendrix, and Cosmo. Luckily, many of the victims survived, including Wheatley, Alistair, Rigby, Gideon, Samson, Jasper, and Maggie.
Catherine Mattock found her cat right after the attack, “dead but warm in my arms, covered in blood.”
Emma Sullivan found her cat Gizmo lying dead on the pavement at her front door. She says she was “completely distraught” and wailing in tears after finding the body.
Steven Bouquet also took Cosmo’s life, whose owner feels a “definite sense of guilt over [their] decision to let him outside.”
TThe evidence found in Bouquet's apartment was overwhelming. Detective Inspector Chris Thompson said "His laptop computer showed that he had repeatedly accessed a website in relation to lost cats in the city, paying particular attention to a cat that was killed."
"He had also viewed numerous dog killing cat-related videos, and two photographs of a dead cat in a front garden, taken at different times of the day, were recovered from his devices and believed to have been taken by him."
The District Crown Prosecutor, Sally Lakin, was determined to have Bouquet be locked up for his brutal crimes against these cats. Unfortunately, the animal cruelty laws, like in many countries, don’t provide lengthy sentences, and in some places, no prison time at all.
In the Bouquet case, animal cruelty would only bring a measly maximum sentence of six months.
Realizing this, Lakin charged Steven Bouquet for ‘criminal damage’ charges, instead of animal cruelty, which allowed the possibility of a much longer sentence. For Bouquet’s punishment, Judge Jeremy Gold sentenced him to five years and three months.
He is currently serving his sentence at Hove Crown Court.
Yuichiro Hirata, a 49-year-old city worker, was arrested on April 14, 2021 for killing many cats with an air pellet gun.
Hirata claimed, he “felt like [he’d] conquered a vulnerable cat,” and that he has killed “about 100 cats” before police finally apprehended him. Hirata would often lure cats in with food, capture them, and then pour boiling water on their heads.
Hirata is still waiting for his conviction and sentencing at the time of this writing.
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