No Cat Is Safe Any Longer in New Hampshire Resort Town after a Local Court Sets Free Molly's Shotgun Murderer with a Trivial $200 Fine
"It kills me that he (Eiras) had the audacity to shoot a little animal because it was in his yard. All he had to do was stomp his foot and the cat would have run off."
-- Susan McGee
At around 5 p.m. on November 8, 2009, fifty-four-year-old Jeffrey Lee Eiras of Winnacunnet Road in Hampton, New Hampshire, shotgunned to death a gray cat with black stripes named Molly when she strayed into his yard. He then nonchalantly tossed her ensanguinated corpse into the trash. (See photo above of her with her kittens.)
He sans doute would have gotten away scot-free with this heinous crime if he had not been observed by an unidentified employee of Comcast. In fact, Eiras was so brazen that he proudly announced his intentions beforehand by telling the conscientious observer, "I hope you're not an animal lover." (See photo of Eiras on the right below.)
Not about to be buffaloed, the employee promptly telephoned the Hampton Police. "We responded to the residence in question and he confirmed that he did, in fact, destroy a cat with a shotgun," Deputy Police Chief Richard Sawyer told the Portsmouth Herald on March 2, 2010. (See "Man Shoots Cat with His Shotgun.")
Despite that incontrovertible evidence, the dregs that comprise the ranks of the Hampton Police failed to take any action against Eiras. Since he had maintained from the outset that Molly was homeless, it can only be surmised that the police accepted Eiras's story at face value and dropped the investigation.
In doing so, their dereliction of duty points to the inescapable conclusion that they do not see anything either inhumane, illegal, or morally repugnant about citizens gunning down cats that allegedly do not have owners. Sawyer gives the game away when he uses the morally neutral word destroy in order to characterize Molly's unprovoked, cold-blooded murder.
In his diseased mind, snuffing out the life of a cat is not altogether different than dismantling inanimate objects, such as houses and model airplanes. With such an abhorrent philosophy, it is doubtful that he and his fellow officers would so much as stir themselves in order to protect the lives of orphans and homeless adults.
Like Eiras, the Hampton Police ultimately were done in by their own prejudices and callousness. The chain of events that ultimately led to that denouement began when Molly's distraught owner, Susan McGee, read about the incident in the Hampton Union and correctly surmised that the murder victim was her beloved companion.
"I knew something was wrong because every time I would drive in my driveway she would run and meet me at the door," she related to the Portsmouth Herald on January 6, 2011. (See "Owner Claims Killed Cat Was Pet, Not Feral Feline.") She accordingly took a photograph of Molly to Police Officer Peter MacKinnon, who doubles as the tiny seaside resort's Animal Control officer, and he duly confirmed her worst fears.
"She was not a feral cat," McGee added in the January 6th article. "I had the cat since she was a baby. This whole ordeal has truly been heartbreaking."
No longer able to shirk their responsibility both to protect cats and to uphold the anti-cruelty statutes, the totally worthless Hampton Police finally arrested Eiras on February 19, 2010 and charged him with animal cruelty and the unauthorized use of a firearm. Although press reports fail to indicate exactly when McGee came forward with her suspicions, the petit fait that it took the police three and one-half months in order to arrest Eiras constitutes prima facie evidence that they look the other way when cats are killed and abused.
"The problem is you can't shoot feral cats," Sawyer belatedly told the Portsmouth Herald in the March 2, 2010 article cited supra. His prior abdication of duty paints an entirely different picture, however.
Despite McGee's initial success in eventually getting Eiras charged, the short shrift that both she and Molly later received from what masquerades as the Hampton judicial system illustrates the myriad of obstacles involved in obtaining justice for murdered and abused cats. To begin with, prosecutors right off the bat gave Eiras a sweetheart deal whereby the charge of animal cruelty was reduced to disorderly conduct.
C'est-à-dire, they do not think any more of individuals killing cats than they do of either public drunkenness or pissing in the street. On January 5th of this year, Eiras pleaded nolo contendere to disorderly conduct and the unauthorized use of a firearm and was fined an insultingly measly $200 by an unidentified judge in Hampton District Court.
Despite the fact that all cats have an inalienable right to live, this case makes it perfectly clear that homeless cats are not provided an iota of protection by the Hampton Police and that even the lives of domesticated ones are valued at only a couple of hundred bucks by local jurists. Since it is impossible to determine the socio-economic status of a cat except under extremely rare circumstances, the net effect of such patently inhumane policies is to declare it to be open season on all cats in Hampton.
The only satisfaction that McGee received for her steadfastness and perseverance was $3,000 in damages that Eiras agreed to pay her after she threatened him with a civil lawsuit. Even though that is small potatoes in return for the life of a beloved family member, it is still substantially more than the $1 that Margaret Reynard of Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, received on January 8, 2010 from the Delaware County SPCA after it had stolen and murdered her eight-year-old cat, Keecha, earlier on April 11, 2006. (See Cat Defender post of March 19, 2010 entitled "Trapped and Killed by the Delaware County SPCA, Keecha's Life Is Valued at Only $1 by a Pennsylvania Arbitration Panel.")
Of course, it goes almost without saying that it is primarily the poor and uneducated who are punished whenever they disobey the law. Police officers, shelters, Animal Control officers, vivisectors, the United States military, governmental agencies such as the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the USDA's Wildlife Services, as well as professors involved in anti-cat research are allowed to abuse and kill millions of cats each year with impunity.
As part of the plea bargain arrangement, Eiras also agreed to fork over $1,000 to the local SPCA. Instead of rejecting his blood money and insisting that he be given a lengthy jail term, the shameless SPCA greedily snatched up his offering without demur.
Since he was so willing to part with $4,000 plus whatever he doled out to his shyster, Eiras obviously is a man of considerable means. In spite of the moral imperative that no animal killer be allowed to buy his way out of jail, this case demonstrates conclusively that justice is for sale to the highest bidder in Hampton.
Furthermore, there is absolutely nothing in the record to suggest that Eiras ever has either apologized to McGee or uttered so much as a syllable of contrition. Consequently, there is a good chance that he has killed other cats in the past and, tant pis, will do so again in the future.
"He wouldn't even look me in the eye at court," McGee told the Portsmouth Herald in the January 6, 2011 article cited supra. "If I could say something to him, it would just be 'Why would you do this?' She was just the sweetest little cat."
Molly's cold-blooded murder not only has taken a heavy toll on McGee but also on her other cat, Matty. "Matty and Molly were very close," she told the Portsmouth Herald. "I miss Molly. This has been going on for over a year and I'm just glad it's over."
That is by no means meant to imply that she feels that justice has been done. "It kills me that he had the audacity to shoot a little animal because it was in his yard," she added. "All he had to do was stomp his foot and the cat would have run off."
That is not the way that cat-haters like Eiras operate, however. Just as it is inconceivable that they would use lethal force in order to rid their yards of birds, Feldmäuse, dogs, squirrels, rabbits, and other animals, it is equally unimaginable that they ever would humanely shoo away a cat.
The only hero to emerge from this sordid affair is the Comcast employee. "I got to thank him, which was nice," McGee told the Portsmouth Herald on January 6th. "He could have just ignored what happened but he didn't."
History continues to demonstrate that municipalities that steadfastly refuse to enforce the anti-cruelty statutes invite further abuse and the commission of even more despicable crimes and that certainly is the case in Hampton. For example, on May 12, 2008 an obese, ten-year-old dark-gray domestic cat suffering from heart disease was sealed up in a black Spalding gym bag with between forty to fifty pounds of rocks and abandoned on the beach.
Once the tide came in the doomed cat drowned when the bag became submerged in four to six feet of water. "I was horrified," MacKinnon protested at that time. "I deal with live and dead animals all the time. I never saw anything like it."
MacKinnon's moral outrage apparently did not translate into any action because, as far as it is known, no arrest ever was made in that disturbing case. (See Cat Defender post of May 20, 2008 entitled "Malice Aforethought: Upstate New York Cat Is Saved from a Watery Grave by a Dead Tree and a Passerby; New Hampshire Cat Is Not So Fortunate.")
Anyone curious as to why cases of animal cruelty are continuing to escalate need not look any further than Hampton. In fact, any other result would be unthinkable so long as the police refuse to investigate and arrest, prosecutors do not prosecute, jurists do not punish abusers, and humane groups continue to be as corrupt as hell.
If Molly has received a small measure of justice, it is due only to the diligent and unstinting efforts of her aggrieved owner. Even then all of her efforts were opposed at every step along the way by the political and legal establishment.
Apparently, Molly's remains eventually were returned to McGee who in turn had them cremated and buried. Hopefully, that has provided her with a measure of closure that is so often denied to other cat owners who lose their beloved companions to the despicable crimes of ailurophobes.
Photos: Susan McGee (Molly) and Portsmouth Herald (Eiras).