Residents send out warning to Seminole Heights community about missing, dead pets

Police ask residents to report anything suspicious

TAMPA - Since Oct. 9 three people have been senselessly murdered in Seminole Heights.  As Tampa police search for their killer residents say their pets have disappeared or ended up dead under strange circumstances.

With few clues and no suspect information residents are even more concerned for their safety.

JJ Rivera told ABC Action News that she worries someone is killing pets in the neighborhood as well.  Rivera waited to make a post on Facebook because she didn’t want to seem insensitive to the three people gunned down over the course of 11 days.  But, when Rivera had 3 cats go missing or die in three weeks she decided it was time to make a post.

“I do want to raise the awareness,” Rivera said.  “There’s something going on in the neighborhood, not sure what it is, I hope it’s not connected.  But, something is happening and we all are a little worried.”

Tampa police confirmed they received a call for a decapitated cat on Oct. 10.  The responding officer wrote in his report that the cat appeared to be decapitated but on closer inspection noticed the head was “folded” under it’s body.  This call came into the police department a day after the first person, Benjamin Mitchell, was killed and before the other two murders.  

Rivera said at the time she just thought a cat died and was thrown in her neighbors yard.  Then, she found one of her cats dead and two others have gone missing since the beginning of October.

“I would never put a cats life against a person’s life,” Rivera said. I hope it’s not connected…when you start hearing and seeing so many more people are coming up yes I have cats yes there are cats in front of the house that are no longer here… we are all a little worried.”

Tampa police said the smallest detail could help catch the Seminole Heights shooter.  

The FBI now counts acts of cruelty against animals along alongside felony crimes like arson, burglary, assault, and homicide in the FBI’s expansive criminal database.

According to their website:
“The National Sheriffs’ Association was a leading advocate for adding animal cruelty as a data set in the Bureau’s collection of crime statistics. The association for years has cited studies linking animal abuse and other types of crimes—most famously, murders committed by serial killers like Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and the “Son of Sam” killer David Berkowitz. The organization also points out the overlap animal abuse has with domestic violence and child abuse.

Rivera wants everyone in the neighborhood with animals to be extra careful.  She prays the shooter is found as soon as possible.

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