THURSTON COUNTY, Wash. — Law enforcement officials are investigating a string of brutal feline deaths in Washington state that authorities say could be the work of a serial cat killer.
Five cats have been killed in Thurston County, Washington, since February, according to officials with the Thurston County Joint Animal Services. Local media outlets have reported as many as two other cats that have been found killed.
Erika Johnson, an animal cruelty services investigator for Thurston County Animal Services, said the pets were found cut open, with their spines were removed, in a similar fashion to the other cases. The cats were apparently cut with a scalpel and placed in areas where they were likely to be found.
"The cats are usually left in public places after they are killed," a release from Pasado's Safe Haven said. "Investigators believe these cases are linked due to similar mutilations done to the cats' bodies (removal of the spine)."
The latest killing involved a deaf tabby cat named Harley, whose body was found by a neighbor in West Olympia on Sunday, not far from where another cat was found mutilated on Friday.
“I went to bed and then in the morning, he’s usually right there at the door waiting for me and he wasn’t there,” Harley’s owner, Kathy Harrigan told local station KCPQ. “Shortly afterwards, the police came by and asked if we were missing our cat and it turns out that he was dead on our neighbor’s lawn and had been mutilated.”
Law enforcement officials in Thurston County went door to door on Saturday and Sunday, warning pet owners and looking for possible surveillance footage.
Authorities said there were two similar cases in February and two last month near Olympia. A case from last October is also believed to be connected.
Harrigan, Harley’s owner, said she plans to install security cameras on her property.
“It’s really kind of terrifying; does it stop with cats? And, then the fact that this person had laid his body out for everyone to see is really disturbing,” Harrigan told KCPQ. "So, people are going to start keeping their cats indoors now. A lot of people had felt free to let their cats be outdoors but not anymore.”
Pasado's Safe Haven is offering a $3,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.