UPDATE (Oct. 9, 10:22 a.m.): KGO-TV reports that San Jose police have arrested a suspect in the case. Authorities say Robert Farmer, 24, was found sleeping in a car outside a Home Depot in San Jose. They also told KGO the body of a cat was found inside the car. Farmer has been charged with animal cruelty. We hope that if Farmer is the culprit, he’s brought to justice and the kidnapping and killing stop.
Police in San Jose believe that several cats recently reported missing are connected to two cats found dead, the apparent victims of blunt-force trauma and one of which was buried in what appears to be a ritualistic fashion. Regardless of the reason, these losses are tragedies for the cats themselves and the humans who loved them. If there is a connection, and one individual (our Bonehead of the Week) is abducting and killing cats in California’s third-largest city, it represents a bigger cause for concern because the acts might herald the loss of more animals as well as human life.
KGO-TV reported the incidents now under investigation by San Jose police earlier this week. Security camera footage shows a 17-year-old cat named Gogo, owned by Miriam Petrova, being abducted from his front yard. Once KGO reported this story, other people in the same neighborhood known as the Cambrian District reported missing or dead cats.
A 15-year-old cat named Beardsley was reported missing by Janice McKimmie and found dead some five miles away buried in box that was covered up by stones, KGO reported.
Beardsley, a black-and-white American Shorthair, was last seen at home on Sept. 26.
An autopsy showed that Beardsley died from blunt force trauma, not an animal attack, KGO reporter Vic Lee said.
Later, a cat owner who asked not to be identified told KGO that her 13-year-old Siamese cat, Rayden, was found dead a mile and a half away from her home. The owner described Rayden as having suffered massive head trauma but no visible bite or puncture marks like an attacking animal might leave.
Detective Stella Cruz of the San Jose Police Department, who has two cats of her own, told the TV station, “We need to find the person who’s taking these cats from their homes and possibly torturing them or killing them.”
What Cruz doesn’t say but might be thinking is that the killings could be a “first act” or a “starter crime” that precedes the perpetrator killing other humans. The two cat killings and one abduction do not look like acts of revenge — say, by a cat owner’s jilted ex-spouse, or maybe a person wanting to silence an animal who made noise or otherwise caused aggravation. Rather, these appear to be premeditated acts on random cats that could involve a ritualistic component.
Gail Melson, a Purdue University professor emeritus whose research focuses on animals in child development, wrote an article for Psychology Today specifying that animal abuse could be a warning sign of future mass killings of humans.
“When a child of any age shows intentional cruelty toward animals that is repeated, severe, and without remorse, this should be taken very seriously,” Melson writes. “It is not only crucial to keep animals safe, but childhood animal abuse is linked to other forms of violence and psychopathology.”
She adds that “Animal abuse is often the first sign of serious disturbance among adolescent and adult killers.”
According to Ranker.com, mass murderers who killed or tortured animals before they began killing humans include David Berkowitz (the “Son of Sam”), Brenda Ann Spencer (who shot into a crowd of children, killing two), Jeffrey Dahmer (the so-called “Milwaukee Cannibal”), Alberto Desalvo (the Boston Strangler), and Ted Bundy (who killed 40 people).
We hope Gogo, the 17-year-old cat abducted from his front yard, is returned home safely, and that no more cats are kidnapped or harmed. We also hope Cruz and her colleagues at the San Jose Police Department find out who’s responsible before the deranged individual turns his dark energy on more cats, other pets, or people.
Anyone whose cat has gone missing in San Jose is asked to contact the police.
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About Keith Bowers: This broad-shouldered, bald-headed, leather-clad motorcyclist also has passions for sharp clothing, silver accessories, great writing, the arts, and cats. This career journalist loves painting, sculpting, photographing, and getting on stage. He once was called “a high-powered mutant,” which also describes his cat, Thomas. He is senior editor at Catster.