Used Car Dealer in Virginia Murders Sweet Three-Year-Old Cat Named Carmen with a Rifle Shot to the Neck
Carmen was a sweet, three-year-old black cat although a heart murmur made life difficult for her. She allowed Klaus and Vanessa Wintersteiger's young children, nine-year-old Nicholas and seven-year-old Isabella, to roughhouse with her and to take her to show-and-tell days at school. She also permitted Isabella (See bottom photo) to dress her up in doll's clothing and to push her through the neighborhood in a carriage. Left to her own devices, Carmen liked to follow her neighbors around, rubbing up against their legs and begging for attention.
This lovely cat's life came to a horrible end on April 24th when next-door neighbor George A. Seymour murdered her with a rifle shot to the neck all because he had once allegedly spotted her on top of his precious car. This senseless killing has outraged residents of the wealthy Bentivar subdivision outside Charlottesville, Virginia where Carmen used to live and left the Wintersteigers' children traumatized.
Worst still, the rifle shot did considerable internal damage to Carmen and she died an agonizingly slow death. According to the May 18th edition of The Hook, the bullet "created a nickel-sized wound as it entered the left side of the cat's neck and then traveled all the way through, leaving metal fragments in her flesh and shattering bones in her right shoulder and right leg before exiting, ripping a larger, ragged hole in the leg." (See "Claws and Effect.")
Despite the severity of her injuries, the brave little cat limped home where the Wintersteigers took her immediately to the vet. After examining her, the doctor concluded that she would need to amputate Carmen's right leg and to fuse her ribs. Based upon the extent of her injuries and the estimated cost of her surgery and rehabilitation the Wintersteigers decided to allow the vet to finish off the cat.
Despite the horrific nature of his crime, Seymour, a Charlottesville used car dealer, will face only misdemeanor animal cruelty charges when he goes on trial August 22nd in Albemarle County District Court. If previous animal cruelty cases in Virginia are anything to go on, this monster will likely get off with a slap-on-the-wrist fine.¹ (See Cat Defender post of January 17, 2006 entitled "Loony Virginia Judge Lets Career Criminal Go Free After He Stomps to Death a Fourteen-Year-Old Arthritic Cat.")
Cognizant of this fact, the Wintersteigers to their credit are considering a civil suit against Seymour. "It's not about the money," Klaus (See photo below of him, his wife Vanessa, and children), told The Hook. "It's about showing people they can't just go out and shoot animals. What's next? If they have a problem with us, do they shoot us?"
If people like O.J. Simpson and Robert Blake, who have escaped punishment in the criminal courts, can be held liable in civil proceedings there is not any valid reason why this legal rationale should not be extended to cat murderers.
Carmen's murder has had a severe emotional impact upon both Isabella and Nicholas (See top photo of them kneeling at Carmen's grave). "They were devastated," Klaus told The Hook. "My daughter went from totally crying to really organized, planning the funeral. My son wanted to go over there and hurt (Seymour)."
Although he is a wealthy businessman, Seymour is a nasty piece of goods who has little respect for either morality or the law. Back in 1998, he built a forward-facing garage on his property in direct violation of Bentivar's regulations and was subsequently forced to tear it down and construct one with a side-facing entrance. Young males from the Seymour household also reportedly use the streets of the subdivision as a makeshift drag strip. Since he has money and has gotten away with illegal and unsociable acts in the past he obviously feels that he can get away with murdering Carmen.
The laws against abusing and killing cats and other pets must be strengthened. The law should not make any distinction between the taking of the life of a cat and killing a human. In fact, a strong case could be made for stiffer penalties for individuals who kill and abuse innocent animals.
Although cat murderers rarely serve any jail time, this may be about to change. On March 23rd, William Buske, 34, of the Oasis Mobile Home Park in Des Plaines, Illinois (28 kilometers outside of Chicago) was sentenced to one-hundred-eighty days in jail and ordered to perform one-hundred hours of community service at an animal shelter for the savage murder of a nine-week-old kitten named Orangie. (See Des Plaines Journal, March 29, 2006, "Feline Fatality Results in Jail Time, Felony.")
As a practical matter, cat owners like the Wintersteigers and the Fagones on Long Island (See Cat Defender post of June 15,2006 entitled "Serial Cat Killer on Long Island Traps Neighbors' Cats and Then Gives Them to Shelter to Exterminate.") need to be on the lookout for monsters like Seymour. Before buying a house, cat owners should have their prospective neighbors investigated in order to make sure that they are not moving in next door to either an ailurophobe or a homicidal maniac.
If they should later discover that they have a cat-hater as a neighbor they should immediately sell out and move if it is at all possible. Cat-haters are bad people and living next door to them can be lethal not only for cats but for humans as well.
The staggering number of incidences involving the unprovoked abuse and murder of totally innocent cats is one more indicator of just how violent American society has become of late. This is a bad country comprised of bad people.
Photos: Jen Fariello of The Hook.
¹Sure enough, Judge Steven Helvin sentenced him to only ten days in jail and an unspecified amount of community service.