The Corpses of Eleven Cats Are Found Locked Inside Pet Carriers That Were Dumped Alongside North Carolina Roads but the Authorities Are Unwilling to Go After Their Killer
|One of the Dump Sites|
"The animals had been very decomposed which leads you to believe they had been dead for several months."
-- detective Tim Handy of the Madison Police Department
Employees of the Public Works Department (PWD) in tiny Madison Township, fifty-three kilometers north of Greensboro, made an horrific and disturbing discovery when they arrived at work just before 6 a.m. on May 4th. Dumped alongside a service road near Old Covered Bridge Road were six pet carriers which later were determined to contain the remains of seven cats.
Later that same morning at around 11:30 a.m. an unidentified park ranger stumbled upon the bodies of four additional cats trapped inside an unspecified number of carriers a little more than two kilometers south of the first site on U.S. 220 near Janet Road and Phoenix Auto Sales and just outside the Madison city limits in the manufacturing town of Mayodan. As was the case with the first set of victims, their cages were lined with newspapers and contained several inches of rotting cat food and accumulated feces.
News reports are rather sketchy and somewhat contradictory, but apparently the only differences between the two sites other than the number of victims was that a plastic trash can also was found at the first one whereas at least two feeding dishes were found at the latter one. It accordingly is not known if the cats had been supplied with water because it could have been either previously consumed, evaporated on its own, or spilled during the bandying about of their death chambers.
Since employees of the PWD and the park ranger apparently frequent both locations on a more or less daily basis, it is believed that all of the eleven cats were dumped at their respective locations sometime between 6 p.m. on May 3rd and the following morning. Determining when they were killed is a considerably trickier proposition.
"The animals had been very decomposed which leads you to believe they had been dead for several months," detective Tim Handy of the Madison Police Department (MPD) theorized to WGHP-TV of High Point on May 4th. (See "Crates with Decomposing Cats Inside Found on Sides of Rockingham County Roads.")
While that certainly is a possibility it is by no means conclusive in that the carcasses of cats decompose at varying rates depending upon where and under what conditions they are either maintained or dumped. For instance, corpses that are stored indoors in either freezers, air conditioned rooms, or in unheated areas disintegrate at a rate far slower than those that have been left outdoors and thus exposed to the torrid rays of the sun. The freezing cold likewise acts as a preservative while scavengers and maggots will make quick work of most any dead animal.
A necropsy therefore is the only sure way of determining how long that they had been dead. The newspapers that lined their carriers might possibly however furnish some clues as to the approximate date of their incarceration. That is true even if their publication dates are missing because it is rather easy to match up news stories and advertisements to their counterparts on the web.
Most important of all, a necropsy should be able to determine exactly what killed each of the victims. Whereas kidney failure due to dehydration is a distinct possibility, they apparently did not starve to death. Besides, if their gaoler was thoughtful enough to have provided them with food that individual likely gave them water as well.
A post-mortem most assuredly also would be able to detect the presence of sodium pentobarbital and other lethal drugs in their systems and such a finding would serve to not only orient law enforcement officials in their investigation but it also would narrow down considerably the list of potential suspects. Even if that ultimately proved not to be the case, the law enforcement community would still have numerous forensic tools at its disposal.
First of all, the pet carriers and feeding dishes should have been immediately dusted for fingerprints and vacuumed for microscopic evidence. After making a note of their brand names, manufacturers, and relative ages, they next should have been photographed.
All retailers in the vicinity that sell pet carriers and food dishes should have been contacted next. Considering the large number of carriers used in the commission of these diabolical crimes it is entirely possible that a merchant just might happen to recall making either a single sale of that quantity or a series of smaller ones to a particular individual or organization.
|The Other Dump Site|
Secondly, the food found in each carrier should have been analyzed in a laboratory in order to have determined both the brand and its age. In order to follow through on that thread, investigators would have needed to expand their dragnet from pet stores to supermarkets, drug stores, and other retailers that sell cat food.
Even the feces as well as the urine that had collected in the newsprint needed to have been scrutinized in a laboratory for clues. If the cats were either beaten, tortured, or used as guinea pigs the telltale signs of such abuse likely still would be detectable in their bones, skin, and fur.
Both locations where the cats were found should have been cordoned off and treated as crime scenes. Molds and photographs should have been taken of any and all footprints and tire tracks.
The police additionally should have canvassed door-to-door all residential dwellings and businesses located anywhere near both crime scenes. That is a real long shot but it is always conceivable that someone may have either seen or heard something suspicious during the evening hours of May 3rd.
Piecing together a profile of either the individual or group evil enough in order to have committed such dastardly acts is an equally demanding task. Nevertheless, several issues are not in dispute and the authorities actually have quite a bit of data to work with if only they could be prevailed upon to act.
First of all, the perpetrator had access to a rather large number of cats and considering that the population of Rockingham County is only ninety-three-thousand-six-hundred-forty-three, it would not seem likely that the area is overrun with an inordinate number of them. Secondly, since pet carriers are not cheap, the culprit is quite obviously either an individual or a group with disposable income.
Thirdly, the fact that carriers, as opposed to large, heavy cages, were used is a rather strong indication that the guilty party regularly moves around cats. Fourthly, considering the large number of carriers employed, either a truck or a van likely was used in the commission of the crimes. Whereas it is theoretically possible that the carriers could have been crammed into a station wagon, that is unlikely owing to both the smell associated with the decaying bodies and the porous nature of the contraptions.
Fifthly, the selection of such conspicuous dumping sites is an indication that the culprit was in a hurry to have gotten rid of the cats and was not particularly concerned that they would be found so quickly. Otherwise, it would have been much easier and safer for the killer to have placed the cats' corpses in black trash bags and then either burned or deposited them in Dumpsters and no one likely ever would have been any the wiser. That individual then could have either held on to or disposed of the carriers and food dishes in any number of ways.
Sixthly, the selection of the service road as a dumping site would tend on the one hand to indicate that the perpetrator is either a local resident or at least someone who is familiar with the area. On the other hand, that individual merely could have accidentally stumbled upon both locations.
Seventhly, even though the dumping of the cats in such a public manner suggests that the killer was imbued with a certain amount of arrogance and hubris, these horrific crimes do not appear to have been the handiwork or someone who was deliberately flaunting either his or her devilry as was the case a few years back in British Columbia. (See Cat Defender post of April 13, 2012 entitled "Serial Killer Who Freezes the Corpses of Cats and Dogs in Blocks of Ice and Then Exhibits Them on His Neighbors' Lawns Is on the Loose in Dawson Creek.")
Eighthly, unless the perpetrator belongs to an organization that has unlimited access to additional pet carriers, it would appear that either he or she is, at least for the time being, getting out of the business of trafficking and killing cats. Absolutely nothing can be taken for granted, however, and that is another poignant reason why it is so vital and the authorities monitor the sale of carriers and cages very closely until this case is solved. It is, after all, entirely conceivable that the killer simply was too lazy and nauseated to have cleaned the carriers and accordingly plans on purchasing replacements and continuing to kill cats.
Au premier coup d'oeil, this would appear to be the work of a hoarder but the perpetrator's modus operandi does not exactly fit that mold. First of all, the number of cats involved is far too small unless, that is, the culprit has killed and dumped additional victims elsewhere and that is a possibility that the authorities should not ignore.
|One of the Feeding Dishes|
Secondly, anyone with the financial means to have purchased that many pet carriers likely also would have been able to have had at least some of the cats sterilized. Thirdly and most telling of all, eleven cats are not either all that difficult or expensive to house and feed. For instance, numerous individuals are able to take care of twice that many of them and with relative ease.
Regrettably, even some practitioners of TNR have been known to abdicate their solemn responsibilities to their charges by either removing them from their colonies and subsequently imprisoning them in carriers in their houses or, even worse, handing them over to veterinarians to kill. For that reason, the authorities cannot completely rule out such individuals and groups from their inquiry. (See Cat Defender post of December 22, 2011 entitled "Rogue TNR Practitioner and Three Unscrupulous Veterinarians Kill at Least Sixty-Two Cats with the Complicity of the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals.")
Although it is freely acknowledged that there simply are not enough facts to go on in order to reach any firm conclusions, it nevertheless could have been the case that these eleven cats were the victims of institutionalized violence. Accordingly, research laboratories, veterinarians, pet stores, groomers, and wildlife rehabilitation centers and zoos that nakedly exploit cats as surrogate mothers should be considered as prime suspects.
Animal Control officers, who even under the best of circumstances operate largely above the law, also have the vehicles, pet carriers, lethal means, expertise, and independence in order to commit such dastardly crimes. Much like letter carriers who dump rather than deliver the mail, it would be so easy for them to do likewise with the cats that they either trap or those that are surrendered to them by their uncaring owners.
For example in August of 2006, Michelle A. Mulverhill walked away from her job in Oxford, Massachusetts, and that led to horrific consequences for the animals under her care and control. (See Cat Defender post of August 31, 2006 entitled "An Animal Control Officer Goes on a Drunken Binge and Leaves Four Cats and a Dog to Die of Thirst, Hunger, and Heat at a Massachusetts Shelter.")
Even the operators of cat sanctuaries have been known to hideously neglect their responsibilities and that is precisely what Virginia Kresge Justiniano and Andy J. Oxenrider of Cats with No Name in Pine Grove, Pennsylvania, did back in 2009. Even more outrageously, they got away scot-free with the commission of their gargantuan crimes. (See Cat Defender post of May 10, 2010 entitled "Lunatic Rulings in Cats With No Name Cruelty Cases Prove Once Again That Pennsylvania Is a Safe Haven for Cat Killers and Junkies.")
Since they already possess licenses to kill, municipal shelters have little incentive to dump cats. Besides, most of them are subject to at least some minimal level of governmental oversight.
It is an entirely different matter for those organizations that operate private shelters and that, quite naturally, brings this analysis full circle to the criminal conduct perennially engaged in by slimy and despicable PETA. Not only does it have a long history of killing and illegally dumping cats and dogs but its death house in Norfolk is only three-hundred-eighty-one kilometers east of Madison. Plus, it deploys a fleet of death vans that operate throughout all of Virginia and parts of northern North Carolina in search of cats and dogs to steal and kill.
Quite often municipal shelters hand over large numbers of animals to the representatives of this criminal organization and they in turn kill them in their vans before dumping their corpses. For instance, in less than a thirty-day period back in 2005 two of its employees killed and dumped the corpses of seventeen cats and eighty-two dogs in a Dumpster at a Piggly Wiggly Supermarket in Ahoskie, three-hundred-eighty kilometers east of Madison in Hertford County.
The Tar Heel State's utterly disgraceful judicial system would not countenance holding these mass murderers accountable under the anti-cruelty statutes and as a result both the duo as well as PETA walked away scot-free. (See Cat Defender posts of January 29, 2007 and February 9, 2007 entitled, respectively, "PETA's Long History of Killing Cats and Dogs Is Finally Exposed in a North Carolina Courtroom" and "Verdict in PETA Trial: Littering Is a Crime but Not the Mass Slaughter of Innocent Cats and Dogs," plus The News and Observer of Raleigh, April 15, 2008, "PETA Workers Cleared of Animal Cruelty (sic) Convictions.")
The clean bill of health given the organization has left it free to continue to steal and kill with impunity and it certainly has not been the least bit shy about availing itself of the golden opportunity given it by the courts. (See Cat Defender post of October 7, 2011 entitled "PETA Traps and Kills a Cat and Then Shamelessly Goes Online in Order to Brag about Its Criminal and Foul Deed" and The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, December 1, 2014, "Man Says PETA Took His Dog from Porch, Killed Her.")
|Another Feeding Dish|
It is important to point out, however, that at this juncture there is not so much as a shred of evidence to link PETA to the killing of the eleven cats in Madison. Nevertheless, based upon its past conduct, the location of the crimes, and the modus operandi of the perpetrator, it cannot be completely excluded from the list of suspects.
More to the point, all institutions, shelters, rescue groups, and individuals that traffic in cats must, at least theoretically, be regarded as suspects. The authorities first should concentrate their investigation within a fifty-mile radius of Madison but if that should fail to produce results the search should be widened to include at least another one-hundred miles. Although it seems unlikely, it is remotely possible that the cats were killed elsewhere and subsequently dumped in Madison by either someone or group from outside the area.
The investigation is being handled by the MPD and the Rockingham County Sheriff's Office (RCSO) in Reidsville but it has not been disclosed what, if any, forensic tests have been performed or if any suspects have been questioned. If previous cases of this sort are any barometer, neither organization has stirred so much as a muscle in order to bring either the guilty party or parties to justice.
For its part, the RCSO has been acting as if it is totally unaware that a crime in fact has been committed. "Reach out to us," sergeant Kevin Sutland implored in the WGHP-TV article cited supra. "Let us help the animals. Let us try to find them new forever homes."
Unless that quote has been taken out of context, he apparently does not even know the difference between acts of abominable animal cruelty, which are patently illegal, and the perennial difficulties associated with finding guardians for homeless cats. Besides, mindless jawboning is not going to crack this case.
Every bit as disgraceful, the local media have dropped the story like a hot potato and that in turn has made it possible for the authorities to leisurely sit back on their fat cracks and do absolutely nothing. Local humane groups and individual cat lovers also appear to be permanently out to lunch.
The one group that has ventured to shove in an oar has been the thoroughly discredited Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and its willingness to help can only be described as a case of subtraction by addition. That is because its assistance has been limited to offering a minuscule and totally irrelevant $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the killer.
"Leaving these cats for dead inside their kennels and carelessly tossing them out is heartbreakingly cruel and also a serious crime," the organization's Erica Geppi blew long and hard in a press release dated May 5th. (See "Reward Offered in Rockingham County, North Carolina, Cat Cruelty Case.") "We hope our reward helps find the person or persons who committed this despicable act (sic)."
As it is the case with Sutland's gruntings, hope does not contribute a blessed thing toward solving animal cruelty cases. In order to accomplish that Herculean task, the best forensic science available, dedication, and steadfastness are needed but, regrettably, all of those components are in exceedingly short supply in Rockingham County.
More to the point, the HSUS is only offering the reward because it is absolutely certain that it never will be called upon to make good on its pledge. If it were even halfway serious about bringing the perpetrator to justice it would dispense with its empty rhetoric and acts of beau geste and instead promptly dispatch a team of trained investigators to Madison in order to beat the bushes.
It would be great fun, however, to see some intrepid individual even so much as attempt to collect from the organization. That is because it is a foregone conclusion that Wayne Pacelle and his minions would hem and haw until the cows came home before finally filling their silk drawers if they ultimately were forced to part with so much as a lousy penny, let alone five-thousand smackers, from their precious hoard. Why, just the exertion involved in cutting the check would tax these good-for-nothing, bone-lazy misers, who make Jack Benny look like a spendthrift, beyond the limit!
Furthermore, the organization's intransigence, duplicity, grandstanding, and mendaciousness are not anything new. For example, after pledging to defend the cats on San Nicolas it turned around and sold them down the river to their sworn enemies. (See Cat Defender posts of June 27, 2008, July 10, 2008, April 28, 2009, November 20, 2009, and February 24, 2012 entitled, respectively, "United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Navy Hatch a Diabolical Plan to Gun Down Two-Hundred Cats on San Nicolas Island," "The Ventura County Star Races to the Defense of the Cat-Killers on San Nicolas Island," "Quislings at the Humane Society Sell Out San Nicolas's Cats to the Assassins at the Diabolical United States Fish and Wildlife Service," "Memo to the Humane Society: Tell the World Exactly How Many Cats You and Your Honeys at the USFWS Have Murdered on San Nicolas Island," and "United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Humane Society Hoist a Glass in Celebration of the Extermination of the Cats on San Nicolas Island.")
Along about that same time it joined forces with its bosom buddies at PETA in an attempt to have the survivors of Michael Vick's notorious dogfighting ring killed. Fortunately, it was thwarted in its evil designs on that occasion by Judge Henry E. Hudson of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Richmond and the Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah, both of whom rallied to the long-suffering and horribly abused canines' defense.
|Even Though She Was In Bad Shape the Colchester Cat Deserved to Live|
Neither the dumping of cats in pet carriers along the sides of thoroughfares nor the rot that so infests the animal protection movement are by any means confined to this side of the Atlantic. Au contraire, both odious practices extend to England and its animal welfare groups.
For instance, along about the beginning of July of last year a forever nameless gray and white female of undermined age was beaten about the face with some type of blunt object before being locked up in a blue pet carrier and then dumped in a pile of rubbish on Easthorpe Road in Colchester, eighty-two kilometers northeast of London in Essex. She remained there battered and bruised, pestered by the insects and elements, and without food and water for two to three weeks until finally her desperate plight was discovered by an unidentified motorist who had stopped in order to take some photographs.
"She was emaciated beyond belief and looked as if she had been hit around the face before being thrown out of the window. She was crawling with maggots," Samantha Garvey of the RSPCA, which came and collected her, later revealed. "I could barely believe this cat was still alive she was in such a terrible state. I can honestly say it was one of the most heartwrenching sights I have ever seen."
Acting in full accordance with its warped business model, the RSPCA quickly made sure that she did not remain in that condition for much longer. "Sadly, there was nothing which could be done to save this poor cat, she was in such a bad state," Garvey continued. "We took her straight to a vet who said she had to be put to sleep to prevent further suffering."
C'est-à-dire, the RSPCA did not even attempt to save her when she unquestionably deserved to have been afforded every opportunity in the world to have gone on living and that is especially the case considering the way that she had been treated. Moreover, the mere fact that she still had enough strength left in her to meow for help is a rather strong indication that she wanted to live.
Unlike the cats dumped in Madison, she was still wearing a pink collar with three bells on it and that is a pretty good indication that she, at least at one time, had had an owner who cared about her. Lamentably, no one ever came forward in order to claim her remains and it is extremely doubtful that the RSPCA even bothered to so much as open an investigation into her horrific murder. (See Cat Defender post of August 31, 2015 entitled "Beaten and Entombed Above Ground for Several Weeks, a Forever Nameless Cat from Colchester Is Finished Off by the RSPCA Which Refuses to Even Investigate Her Death.")
Contrary to what an awful lot of individuals earnestly believe, the lives of cats are not any less precious than those of their human counterparts and as such they are deserving of the same protections of the law. In fact, a good argument could be made that due to their vulnerabilities they are entitled to even more stringent protections. In reality, however, their lives count for next to nothing with both the law enforcement community and those phony-baloney charities that are sworn to protect them.
As a consequence, no matter how heinous the crimes, numerous the victims, or prolonged the suffering, neither the police nor rescue groups can be prevailed upon to take cruelty to cats seriously. Even on those exceedingly rare occasions when arrests are made, successful prosecutions are launched, and jurors convict, meathead judges cavalierly brush aside the law and allow the killers and abusers to escape with suspended sentences, probation, and court costs. It therefore is almost unheard of for cat killers to be sent to jail.
The life of the Colchester cat did not matter one whit to the RSPCA and so far both the MPD and the RCSO have demonstrated the same callous indifference to the fate of the eleven cats killed in and around Madison. The warped thinking and do-nothing attitude of the authorities on both sides of the pond brings to mind the following description of the greedy capitalist Medbourne, the wastrel Colonel Killigrew, the crooked politician Gascoigne, and the scandal-plagued widow Wycherley that Nathaniel Hawthorne introduced to the world in his famous 1837 short-story, "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment:"
"With palsied hands, they raised the glasses to their lips. The liquor, if it really possessed such virtues as Dr. Heidegger imputed to it, could not have been bestowed upon four human beings who needed it more woefully. They looked as if they had never known what youth or pleasure was, but had been the offspring of Nature's dotage, and always the gray, decrepit, sapless, miserable creatures, who now sat stooping around the doctor's table, without life enough in their souls or bodies to be animated even by the prospect of growing young again."
The only real difference between Dr. Heidegger's research subjects and those individuals and groups charged with enforcing the anti-cruelty statutes is that the latter aggregate does not suffer from a lack of youthful vigor but rather from something that is far more sinister. Specifically, none of them recognize any substantial difference between right and wrong and for that reason they are completely lacking in all justice, compassion, honesty, and integrity. Tant pis, their intransigence serves not only as an official endorsement of cruelty to cats but also as a green light for yet still additional individuals and groups to take up arms against the species.
Photos: Madison Police Department (pet carriers and food bowls) and the Herts and Essex Observer of Bishop's Stortford (Colchester cat).