At seven years old, Merlin was still quite a young and sprightly cat, smallish but with big paws and a big face. He was always looking for attention from Georgie Grange and her family, and from those he knew and liked around the quiet patch of suburban south London where they all lived. But the outdoorsy feline could be a timid too; cautious around strangers, with a tendency to freeze up if approached suddenly by someone he didn’t immediately recognise. So, eight mornings ago, when a binman came up to Georgie’s mother whilst she was out walking her dog to ask if she knew of anyone who owned a black cat, she might have expressed surprise at the idea that wary Merlin had gotten himself into mischief overnight.
But it wasn’t Merlin who had caused trouble, rather a person unknown — a man or woman who swept into Crest View Drive, Petts Wood, Bromley, sometime after 10pm, with the intention of completely changing a family’s entire life for the worse. The binman had found Merlin in a state so bad it could have been part of a scene from a horror flick. He was dead — decapitated, with a limb and all his organs removed. What remained of the much beloved pet was neatly laid out on a driveway two doors down from his owner’s house, in plain view of any passerby.
The day before, Bertie the cat was discovered in a similar state near Frimley, over an hours’ drive away; go back another day and the victim was 20-year-old tortoiseshell Lulu, beheaded 40 minutes east in Kingston; two days before that, it was another — as yet unnamed victim — found mutilated 12 miles east again near Blackhorse Lane Tramstop. What’s most striking about these incidents of horrific animal cruelty is that police and the RSPCA believe they may all be connected to one, evidently mobile, perpetrator.
The activities of the former ‘Croydon Cat Killer’ — now called the ‘London Cat Killer’ or ‘M25 Cat Killer’ as the range of his or her grisly work expands across the capital — have been making local and national papers, as well as talkshow television and radio segments for over six months now. What started out being dismissed by officials as purely the work of foxes has mutated — under the pressure of a 4,000-strong community Facebook page, SNARL, and a petition of 40,000 signatures — into a prolonged investigation to catch the culprit believed to be responsible for the attacks. PETA has offered a £5,000 reward for information that could lead to their arrest, and celebrities such as Martin Clunes, Caroline Flack and Dermot O’Leary have all expressed their support for the campaign to the catch the killer. The Vamps’ James McVey even posted up on social media that he’d give away free tour tickets ‘to the person who finds this scum’.
With fresh killings occurring several times a week, and the police apparently no closer to catching the perpetrator, London pet owners are feeling profoundly uneasy, keeping their normally outgoing animals locked away inside for fear of yet another attack. But their distress cannot match the pain and anguish of the owners and families of the victims themselves, which SNARL believes to rank in excess of 50 slaughtered animals. The horrifying actions of one single person has affected so many people: they’ve changed a man’s profession, another’s memory of his past pet, affected a family’s closeness and a child’s understanding of friendship. The following accounts are from Londoners whose sense of loss runs so much deeper than ‘just’ losing their pet.
South Norwood Animal Rescue And Liberty (SNARL) is run between two homes, five minutes apart from one another. Tony Jenkins started taking in the odd cat about three years ago, but one cat grew to two, then, before he knew it he had a full rehoming centre on his hands. Right now he has 15 felines in need of resettling, including five newborn kittens. Meanwhile his partner Boudicca Rising’s house has become a sanctuary for cats with disorders such as Feline immunodeficiency virus; animals that would be very difficult to home otherwise.
The couple set up their Facebook page about 15 months ago, around the time Tony was made redundant from his job at the city council — ‘part of the ol’ cuts’. To begin with, the page was a low-key way of finding volunteers willing to take in animals from either of their shelters, as well as posting up information about cats missing in the local area. The first indication that something was dreadfully wrong in their close-nit world of lost and abandoned animals wouldn’t come until the September of last year.
Tony noticed a post on Facebook by the Riverside Animal Centre, down in Wallington, warning its followers that they’d heard reports from local vets about four cats that had recently been mutilated. So he contacted the vets. ‘It seemed cats were coming in with a sliced tummy,’ he explains. ‘Because of vet confidentiality — same with the doctors — they couldn’t actually give us any more details. But we investigated the one incident we knew about for sure: in that attack a poor cat that had been basically eviscerated. Sliced cleanly from neck to groin, and it was left on someone’s doorstep with no blood at all on the scene.’
Further reported instances of cat killing and mutilation emerged, involving poor animals found with missing limbs, missing tails, and some of which had been completely beheaded, before being dumped in public areas on display for passersby to find. Unable to stand by any longer, Tony and Boudicca commenced a citizens’ investigation aimed at uncovering the people — or, as now believed, single person — behind the attacks, which continued to grow worse.
‘Most recently, we’ve seen more removed than the head and tail: we’ve had a head and front shoulders — we’ve also found a few cats that had been very cleanly cut in half.’
In the beginning it was difficult to attain official recognition of the killings. The police weren’t unduly interested in the attacks. The victims were cats, and this is London, a city that saw over 110 human murders last year alone. And without a clear suspect to investigate, the RSPCA preferred to focus their limited resources on the 150,000 other complaints of cruelty they receive each year, roughly 12,000 of which come from the Greater London area. As an additional complication, in most of the early cases, the bodies of the victims were either cremated on their owners’ request, or disposed of upon discovery by street clean-up crews — making it incredibly difficult to prove that a human had slaughtered the animals in the first place. Authorities decided in most cases that the culprit was the much-maligned urban fox.
But foxes’ teeth don’t cut nearly as cleanly as a blade. Nor do foxes bludgeon their prey to death, which is exactly what had happened to several new victims, as revealed by vet autopsy reports — four conducted on behalf of SNARL, and so far seven by a specialist vet for the RSPCA (when they did eventually become involved, as awareness about the case grew over the winter). ‘The general agreement is that the cat has died from a blunt trauma impact… and then the heads or tails or both have been cut off with a heavy-bladed instrument,’ Tony clarifies.
‘Our vet has seen a pattern. For the later attacks, he’s commented that the killer is getting better at it; he’s improving his skills in the way in which he cuts them up. [Like every individual interviewed for this piece, Tony refers to the killer as a male.] ‘Most recently, we’ve seen more removed than the head and tail,’ says Tony. ‘We’ve had a head and front shoulders — we’ve also found a few cats that had been very cleanly cut in half.’
Tony believes there are a number of elements to these attacks that make them particularly disturbing, above and beyond the inherent horror of the animal abuse: ‘One, you’re killing the animal. Two, mutilating it and chopping it up. And three, putting it on display, hoping that passing people will see it, or the owners will find it. And we have a few cases where the actual owners have found the cat. I mean, how horrible must that be? Your beloved cat, a member of your family, goes missing for a day and then you find it with its head cut off and its tail cut off. It’s on your doorstep.’
And that’s what’s driven him — and Boudicca, who works full-time in facilities management — to spend huge amounts of time trying to crack this case. But their work is not just confined to going out, recovering bodies and getting them to their vet or the RSPCA — something they are doing with increasingly frequency as the number of victims mounts — it’s also answering the hundreds of queries they receive on their Facebook page every day, as well as fielding the growing media attention the attacks now receive. In total, some 14 separate production companies have already approached the pair with plans to make a documentary about the spree of cat killings.
‘My life has gone weirdly interrupted. We’re just a couple of middle-aged people who save a few cats; might have a glass of lager on a Friday night.’
‘People want information,’ says Tony. ‘They call us about historic cases. They phone and say: “Oh, I just seen someone down the road who seems to be trying to coax a cat with some food.” We’re getting all sorts of calls. It’s become a full-time job for me. And for Boudicca as well, alongside an actual full-time job.’
Media interest and community outrage over the killings now means that the slaughters and mutilations have the full focus of police and the RSPCA. But the interesting thing is that Tony and Boudicca — as the leaders of a large swathe of worried South London pet owners — remain an important nexus of the investigation into the serial killings, and they’re in daily contact with a specially appointed detective sergeant.
Yet, despite the grimness, the pain, the heavy horror of consoling owners who’ve just lost their pet, and then having to ask them if they can take that beloved animal’s body away for autopsy — moments of absurdity, even black humour, also emerge. And these are the occurrences that show at their core the good-natured humanity of the people doing their damnedest to stop such awful events happening within their community. Like the time a detective sergeant got Tony out of bed early in the morning to ask him advice on exactly what to do with the body of dead cat he’d found accidentally run-over by a car. Or the worries Tony voices that one day, during a live rescue, the sight of a lone man trying to coax a cat out of a tree is going to result in someone reporting him to the police as the very killer he’s trying to catch.
‘I know I shouldn’t laugh about it,’ the 51-year-old concludes at the end of an hour-long phone-call. ‘But my life has gone weirdly interrupted. We’re just a couple of middle-aged people who save a few cats. Might have a glass of lager on a Friday night. I started doing animal rescue and now I’m more often picking up dead cats than live ones. What has happened to my life?’
When Amber Lewis was little she tricked her parents into taking her to pick some ‘competition winnings’ from a house a fair drive away from where they lived. The prize turned out to be a puppy. Her mum always used to shout at her that when she was older she’d ‘never want so many cats, dogs, rabbits, hamsters and everything else because she wouldn’t want all these commitments,’ but that proved untrue. Now the proud owner of two dogs and two cats — not to mention being a full-time mother of four children — Amber wanted the animals, wanted the commitments, because she believes a house can’t be a happy home without them, even if it is sad when the animals pass on.
Her son Liam had always wanted a cat. Desperately after a little pet all of his own, he specifically asked his mum for a grey and white moggy. Amber trawled the Internet for weeks attempting to find the perfect animal for her little boy, finally discovering a seller on Facebook and driving down to collect it the night before Liam’s birthday. She surprised him with Leo on the morning of his seventh birthday and from that moment onwards an unbreakable bond was formed between the two.
‘The pain, the pain that I had was unbelievable… To have him taken away, in such a cruel, vicious, nasty way, it’s just indescribable. There’s no words.’
‘Liam refers to his cat as his best friend,’ Amber explains. ‘And when he died, his actual words were, “I miss Leo so much. I miss him even more than if you died,” which is quite sort of shocking for me to hear, but from an eight-year-old’s point of view, that’s the way he sees it.’
When Leo went missing Amber pestered all the neighbours for help, printing off fliers and getting volunteers to hand them out right across Sutton. But it wasn’t until a week later that the 32-year-old carer received any word about what had happened to their cat. One of the builders working at an old people’s residential home just round the corner from her house rang to say they’d discovered him. ‘I said, “Oh great! I’ll come and get him straight away,”’ Amber recalls. ‘The man sort of hesitated. He went really quiet. “What’s the matter?” I asked. That’s when he told me that Leo was dead. And that he didn’t have a tail.’
‘So of course, I’ve gone down there because I didn’t believe it,’ she continues. ‘I’d gone down to look at him…and the pain, the pain that I had was unbelievable. When my dad died last September I was left with this pain in my heart and that pain came back when I found Leo. To have him taken away, in such a cruel, vicious, nasty way, it’s just indescribable. There’s no words.’
Amber told her partner what had happened, or what she thought had happened, that Leo had been hit by a car and killed. Her foremost priority, she knew, was to protect the children — just back from school — from seeing their mutilated pet. So Amber asked for the house doors to stay locked whilst she went out to remove the body. However, Liam is a pretty clever kid; wise beyond his years. Aware that something was going on, he decided to climb out of the kitchen window, running around to discover the sad scene in its entirety. He knew it was his cat that’d died. ‘It was an awful, absolutely awful experience for him to have had to go through,’ says Amber. ‘To see his cat lying there. I was crying, my neighbour was crying, Liam was crying.’
There was no tail. There was no blood. In fact the scene was so placid that Leo looked like he was merely asleep. Amber found herself wanting to shake the prone cat, as if it were just slumbering in the sun and with a quick stir would spring back to life again, ready for dinner. The family were in shock, but the situation continued to quickly evolve.
Through a series of conversations, Amber was put in touch with Boudicca, and within the space of a few hours, her innocent vision of Leo’s tragic — but wholly accidental — demise had been flipped on its head. No longer was she thinking about where they were going to get the cat cremated, but instead her head was flooded with scenarios of serial killers, and real visions of two people she didn’t know — Tony and Boudicca — wearing latex gloves whilst whisking away her deceased cat into the back of their car, taking his body for forensic testing. Two weeks later, Amber got a text from Boudicca telling her that Leo’s tail had indeed been cut off by a bladed object. It was confirmation that he’d been a victim of the London Cat Killer and the news was difficult for Amber to absorb.
‘It’s horrible, absolutely horrible…I look out my bedroom window and there’s not a day that has passed that I don’t see Leo. Even though he’s not there, I see him laying at the spot I found him, because it’s a stone’s throw away from my garden. And to think that this bloke was so close. So close to me and my family, and my whole life… There’s so many questions, so many questions that I need answering.’
‘They don’t want me, they want Liam — the poor little eight-year-old boy who’s lost his best buddy, which is awful.’
It’s eight-year-old Liam who has been hit the hardest. At first, the finality of his pet’s demise didn’t quite sink in. ‘He sat down and he did 30 or 40 autographs and handed them around the classroom, even the teacher got one, because he was famous; he’d been on This Morning,’ recounts Amber. ‘But that’s all gone and it’s now hit him.’ The sustained interest in the killings has been time consuming, Amber admits, especially with the TV people. ‘They say they’re going to be over at a certain time, and you get phone calls, “Oh we’re not going to come for two hours.” And then they’re here until almost 10pm. I’ve got the children to put to bed, but they’re the main focus. They don’t want me, they want Liam — the poor little eight-year-old boy who’s lost his best buddy, which is awful.’
Liam doesn’t want to talk about Leo any longer. ‘His best mate has been taken away, and he’ll never ever be able to replace him.’ Amber concludes sadly. ‘He’s like: “Mum, I just want to miss Leo now. I’m bored of being on TV. I’m bored of doing reports. I just need to sit and think about my friend.”’
David Emmerson bought Missy as a Christmas present for his daughter back in 2006. Three weeks short of a decade later, the cat disappeared from her home in Coulsdon before turning up dead in a hedge adjacent to the family’s back garden. Like many other victims of the London Serial Cat Killer, Missy’s head and tail had been removed by a blade.
It was a tough time for the security worker and his family, especially during that first week. ‘We had the upset of the scene itself,’ recalls David. ‘The lost cat, the additional distress of knowing what had happened to her, then also there was a lot of interest from the press and from various other sources.’ But the hardest aspect of the whole gruesome episode, according to David, was never being able to tell his son exactly what happened to their cat.
‘God only knows how he would have reacted if he found out that someone had gone out with a bladed weapon and deliberately killed her; doesn’t bear thinking about.’
‘He has autistic spectrum disorder and his reaction…well, his first reaction when he found out what happened was to blame me for letting her out,’ the 43-year-old says. ‘Because he said he told me not to let the cat out and that he was going to blame me for anything that happened to her. And then his next reaction was anger towards what had happened, of the fact that she had been killed.’
David and his wife had to tell their son Missy had been killed, but couldn’t let him know any details of the attack. Instead they gave the 12-year-old the impression that death had been the result of a careless driver. ‘He still mentions it from time to time,’ explains David. ‘Says that if he finds out who it was driving the car, that he’ll do this and do that to them. God only knows how he would have reacted if he found out that someone had gone out with a bladed weapon and deliberately killed her; doesn’t bear thinking about.’
They attempted to keep their son calm, sheltering the boy as best they could from the growing media storm gathering around the spree of attacks. But it was hard work. TV crews would call round at all sorts of unsociable hours, and the couple would have to make up excuses. Later, when the footage aired, they’d record it in secret — watching it back only when they knew they were alone. David did his utmost to protect his son from knowing the full horrors of an act so randomly cruel it would likely lay outside the scope of the young boy’s comprehension. But he wasn’t the only child affected by the gory slaughter of the family pet. David’s daughter Keeley Emmerson’s first reaction on hearing about Missy’s demise was to scream. The couple didn’t see as much of the 18-year-old dental nurse after that.
‘It was draining my energy seeing, every single day, another killing or another cat that had something happen to it.’
Keeley’s response was to escape the house, throwing herself into work and spending more time around her boyfriend’s place. ‘She could talk to him,’ elaborates David. ‘But probably, just being at home, in a house that would normally have the cat in it, was hard for her as well. A way of her dealing with it was just to get out of here.’ David appreciates that some people might not understand just how much of an impact a single cat can have on life. How for some, the death of a pet can be almost as devastating as the loss of a person. Nevertheless the family are now, four months on, starting to slowly get over the loss of Missy. But the stress of the entire incident and its aftermath has left its mark on the group’s protective patriarch.
‘I actually caught a virus. It was six weeks and I still haven’t shaken it off. I even had to turn off the notifications for [SNARL’s] Facebook page; it was draining my energy seeing, every single day, another killing or another cat that had something happen to it. It was just too much.’
Wayne Bryant can’t quite remember where they got his cat, Amber. But his wife Gwen does: ‘Bromley,’ she says unequivocally. ‘She comes from Bromley. Someone had two kittens, didn’t they? My mum has one and we have one. When we took her on, she was a little runny eyed, runny nosed, skinny, flea-ridden little thing. She was about six weeks old.’
‘Friendly little thing from the off, wasn’t she?’ she says to Wayne. ‘Amber loved sitting on your shoulder; she felt like a little baby, laying there on your shoulder. She was also a little curtain climber. I’d find her at the top of the net, hanging on. When did we get her? We have so many animals, I can’t remember. Must have been nine. She must have been coming up on nine before she was killed.’
Wayne’s lived in Shirley for 16 years now. Before that he lived in Thornton Heath, but it’s always been Croydon. He and Gwen have had a lot of pets across those years, nearly all of them rescue animals: rabbits, guinea pigs, lizards, dogs — they’ve always had a dog — and a couple of cats besides Amber. although those two passed away a couple of years ago. Natural cause, Wayne adds matter-of-factly. Animals have always been an important part of his life. He even wanted to join the RSPCA at one point. ‘But it’s such a long process,’ he admits. ‘My memory is terrible and to find a job with memory problems is not going to happen, because I can’t even remember what I had for breakfast this morning. Finding any job is difficult.’
Wayne was at work when he wrenched his back, and it tore something in his spine. Unbeknownst to him at the time, his cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) — the clear, colourless body fluid found in the brain and spine that acts as a cushion for the brain’s cortex — began to leak. Over the course of several months, his CSF drained away from around the brain out of the back of his head, and he collapsed at the beginning of December 2012, only waking up again weeks later on Christmas Eve. Since then, the little details of life don’t stay in his head very well and Wayne’s verbal communication skills have also suffered. But while the day-to-day recollections of the past may fade away from his grasp, the tattooed 47-year-old still remembers every part of what happened to his poor cat.
‘In a society where you can’t even have a pee in the corner of a carpark or drop a bit of litter without getting a £150 fine, I can’t believe so many animals have been killed in the same way and nobody and no CCTV has managed to pick up them up.’
In all honesty, he was amazed the killer ever caught Amber, considering she never really strayed further than the neighbour’s garden. ‘Amber was mainly an indoor cat,’ says Wayne. ‘She’d go out and literally cross the road to the house opposite, and then she’d come back home. She’d be in all day, go out in the evening, probably do her business, then come back in again — that would be as far as she went.’
‘She went out on a Friday, because we were playing with her in the kitchen.’ he explains. ‘It was about two o’clock; she went out to have her business, and she’d normally definitely be in by four for her dinner. When she didn’t turn up, we just thought she’d probably stayed a bit longer somewhere or wandered off a bit. So every hour, we’d go out and call her. Nothing. It was really unusual for her not to be home for dinner because she loved her food.’
Amber never came home that evening, and Wayne waited out the next morning hoping that she’d just been locked in a garage by accident, and would make her return in due course. But the morning came and went, and come midday, Amber still hadn’t shown. ‘So I thought I’d have a walk around the estate just to see if she’d wandered off to the main road a bit, and been unfortunate and got run over or something,’ Wayne continues. ‘Because, you know, these things happen. And anyway, me and the wife went out just search the estate, the whole estate, mainly just to see if we could find a body or see if she was stuck somewhere. We spent a couple of hours walking about, and were just coming home thinking we’ve got no idea where she could be.’
Unsure of where to go next, the two decided to take a quick look in Threehalfpenny Wood, the somewhat scrappy and litter-filled woodlands not far from their house. Perhaps Amber had got stuck in in a foxhole or up a tree. After splitting up and going in different directions, it was only a matter of minutes before Gwen found their pet, in a little clearing adjacent to the path. All she knew was that Amber was dead. ‘I came along and I had a look,’ says Wayne. ‘Whilst my wife went home to get a blanket, I picked Amber up. That’s when I realised her head was missing.’
‘I know what an animal ripping another animal apart looks like. It’s not like the way I found my cat.’
‘In a society where you can’t even have a pee in the corner of a carpark or drop a bit of litter without getting a £150 fine, I can’t believe so many animals have been killed the same way and nobody and no CCTV has managed to pick up them up. I can’t understand it, especially how he managed to get our cat from such an open location in the middle of a Friday afternoon, when the kids were coming home from school. It’s such a small area too, literally from across the road to here. That’s the only place that he would be able to catch her, and nobody noticed anything. He’s got to be very, very quick…’
A policeman came around that day and took a statement. But, like Tony, Wayne believes it took a while, and a lot of publicity, for Amber’s death to be taken seriously. At first it was just viewed as an unfortunate, untraceable act of small animal cruelty set amid the bigger backdrop of crimes against people (which include some 10,129 acts of violence in Croydon in the 12 months leading up to February 2016), then crimes against property (3446 incidents over the same period). Not to mention the 15,000 other incidents Croydon police reportedly have in their systems. But, while Wayne can understand the initial reticence of the police to take action, he is more scathing about the role of the RSPCA, the organisation he once considered joining. ‘They continuously said it was a fox attack that had done it. I know what an animal ripping another animal apart looks like. It’s not like the way I found my cat.’ Wayne found his cat clean. Despite her head and tail being completely removed and missing, there was no sign of blood or mess, a factor that’s been consistent across the majority of linked killings.
The months since October have stretched on for Wayne and his family, and the sharp pain of Amber’s killing has now faded, to be replaced with a some semblance of frustrated peace, periodically interrupted by renewed surges of interest from the press whenever a new celebrity tweets about the case. ‘We’ve come to terms with it.’ Wayne explains. ‘Poor cat’s gone. Nothing we can do about it, and we’ve just come to the conclusion that we have to live with it.’ He won’t get another cat, though. Not because he’s scared of the killer, but because he just doesn’t see the point. For now, he and Gwen have their friend’s dog Cali staying with them, which has taken some of the sting out of Amber’s absence. But when Cali leaves in a few month’s time, he doesn’t know what’ll they’ll do.
As for the killer, Wayne think they’ll never be caught. ‘I know the police are doing their bit but… unless this person makes a mistake, or gets fed up and doesn’t want to do it no more, this isn’t going to stop.’ He pauses. ‘Unless he moves onto people. But it’s a bit late then, isn’t it?’
Who is the serial cat killer? We can make an informed guess. Like Tony, Amber and Wayne, Dr Adam Lynes, Deputy Head of HaVoC for the Centre for Applied Criminology at Birmingham City University, believes that — on balance — the attacks are probably being carried out by a man.
‘If I had to draw a profile I would say a young, white male, probably not from the upper echelons of society, potentially unemployed, and definitely with access to a vehicle,’ he says. However, the lecturer is also quick to caution on the perils of overeager profiling. ‘It’s more of an art than a science’ he warns, quoting the 2002 Beltway sniper attacks — where the FBI initially focused on looking for a white perpetrator when in fact it was two black shooters, John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo — as an example of how speculation, even by experts, can prove erroneous.
‘Serial killing can be a mechanism for autonomy in a very mechanised society, ‘It’s a way of being saying “I’m unique” — a means of standing out from the crowd.’
Why couldn’t the killer be a woman? ‘There are a number of famous female serial killers — such as Aileen Wuornos and Myra Hindley,’ answers Lynes. ‘However women tend to favour less aggressive forms of murder, such as poison, not graphic mutilations as have occurred in this case.’ Whether the perpetrator is male or female, the 27-year-old criminologist is convinced that the national attention the cat attacks have received is spurring them on.
They likely monitor press and social media coverage of their work with pleasure. It is this gratification that Lynes believes is propelling the individual forward to commit further acts of gratuitous violence, in a manner much like the copycat US schoolroom shootings that have occurred in the years since Columbine. ‘Serial killing can be a mechanism for autonomy in a very mechanised society,’ explains Lynes further. ‘It’s a way of being saying “I’m unique” — a means of standing out from the crowd.’
A lot of serial killers exhibit a tendency towards animal cruelty during childhood, before stepping up to full blown murder; it’s a process criminologists have dubbed the Graduation Hypothesis. However that established theory doesn’t quite gel for this attacker: acts of animal cruelty are usually committed during the serial killer’s childhood — an age bracket that doesn’t fit, given the attackers probably access to automobile transport.
Even more of a problem is the fact that serial killers, on the whole, tend to keep their activities on the down low. ‘These cats attacks are public — too high profile,’ says Lynes. ‘The mutilations seem predominantly to be carried for their for shock value. But, with a very few exceptions, serial killers don’t like to draw attention to their actions. It’s the act of killing that they find pleasurable: these people don’t want to risk getting caught and having to stop.’
‘Serial killers are always looking for their next high: the perfect murder,’ Lynes concludes. ‘This person hasn’t made that leap. They could— if they want more attention or if press interest wanes — they might risk committing more shocking crimes. Or they might keep attacking cats, or they might get bored of their horrific hobby altogether. But an awful lot of time has passed since the first cat killings. In my opinion I don’t think this person is going to kill humans now.’
Until the perpetrator is caught and brought to justice, it’s unlikely we’ll ever know anything but the broadest strokes of what their life is like, or discover the twisted-up reasons behind their urge to destroy these animals and display them in the most gruesome manner possible. The only thing we know for sure is the affect these attacks have had on the pet-owners left in the killers’ wake. Theirs’ is a sad telling of loss forced into the everyday comings-and-goings of life; an intense spike of pain, revulsion, fear and confusion thrust into the otherwise comforting embrace of steady suburban living. Sadly, it seems this is exactly what the killer wants most.