The mutilated corpses of cats began appearing in February. In August, seven cases were reported and on Wednesday, a homeowner found the 13th victim. The cats' spines were reportedly removed from their bodies and some cats were dismembered. Investigators say it appears that a scalpel is being used in the killings.
Thurston County Animal Services officer Erika Johnson is leading a task force of ten people, including a homicide detective, in an effort to locate the killer. Johnson told the New York Times that the mutilated cats have been displayed to be seen.
“Kind of like an arsonist goes back to the scene of fire. They want people to find these animals," said Johnson. “It’s for shock value, It’s like a trophy.”
While the killer has not been caught on video, he did leave behind a surgical glove by the body of one of the victims in Olympia. Investigators hope to match DNA from the glove, and from that cat's nails — she was named Ollie and put up a fierce fight against her attacker. If the killer is located he or she could face up to two years in prison for each of his feline victims.
Violence against animals is a well-known indicator of potential violent crimes against humans. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey conducted by the CDC found that "71 percent of domestic violence victims reported that their abuser also targeted pets."
The New York Times reports that Ben Elkins, a major crimes detective with the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office, and his team is taking the killings very seriously.
“There have been past cases where perpetrators were caught that turned out to be serial killers,” he said. “Is that the case in this? We don’t know, but we’re not taking any chances.”
At least two Facebook groups have been created to locate the killer with members swapping, tips, theories and even conducting their own late night sweeps of the neighborhoods where the cats' bodies have been found.
As of this morning the reward for any information leading to the person responsible for these sick crimes had increased from $36,000 to $41,000.
If you would like to report a tip, call Animal Services at 360-352-2510.