OLYMPIA, WA — Police are searching for a serial cat killer who has been mutilating felines in Washington state and then leaving them for their traumatized owners to find.
Harley, a 20-year-old old deaf tabby owned by Kathy Harrigan, was the seventh known victim, according to Q13 Fox in Tacoma, Washington.
His owner told the news station that she left the cat in the heated outdoor shelter she had built for him on Saturday night.
The next morning, police contacted her to let her know that Harley had been found — mutilated on a neighbor’s lawn.
Officials in Thurston County have said that they believe that a string of animal deaths in recent months are connected, and are the work of a “serial cat killer.”
Erika Johnson, an animal-cruelty investigator for the county, told Q13 that the cats were cut open with a scalpel and their spines had been removed. In one case, a surgical glove was reportedly found next to a cat’s body.
The cats’ corpses have been found in the suburbs of Olympia, Lacey, and Tumwater.
After Harley’s body was found in Olympia, a cat named Olly (main photo, above) was found dead — her remains set up on display in a yard half a mile from her home. A forensic necropsy revealed that her killing fit the pattern, and investigators are working to see if DNA can be taken from her claws, according to Q13.
Jeremy Sockert, Olly’s owner, stated, “The investigators said, ‘It seems your cat was mutilated, they took the spine, choked it, and smashed its head.’”
The county animal-control service has even taken the step of warning cat owners to keep their pets inside overnight.
In Washington state, the maximum jail sentence for a first-time felony animal offense is five years, according to the Humane Society. If convicted, the offender may also be ordered to pay a maximum fine of $10,000.
Some residents in the area have voiced concerns that a person capable of this type of animal cruelty could target humans next.
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Main photo: Olly, a victim of the serial cat killer [Pasado’s Safe Haven]