According to local authorities, a serial cat killer has been on the loose in Thurston County, Washington and is believed to be responsible for the mutilations and deaths of more than a dozen cats.
The bodies of seven missing household cats were recently recovered in early August, some of whom had been missing since February. The body of the killer's latest victim was discovered on Thursday near the state capital of Olympia, The Daily Beast reports. As of Friday, the killer has claimed a total of 13 known victims.
After the 12th cat was found, Police Lieutenant Sam Costello told a local news station that the cat's body had various "surgical-type mutilations," a detail that has been consistent with the other victims. Some of the cats were surgically slit open or dismembered, while others had had their spines removed. All of the cats, however, were found with their bodies "posed" and put on display in public places. At another scene, a surgical glove was left behind.
"This person is a sick, callous, disgusting psychopath," said Paul DeTray, the man who found the 12th mutilated cat. "To say the least, a little gut-wrenching to see somebody's beloved pet torn apart like that."
While 13 cats have been found so far, it is quite possible that there are more. According to a New York Times report published earlier in the month, the dismembered body parts of multiple cats were found in the same place at one crime scene.
While investigators have little evidence to go on, DNA was discovered on the claws of one of the victims, which might help them to identify and catch the killer.
For now, Thurston County authorities are encouraging residents to keep their pets inside just to be safe.
A local anti-animal cruelty organization called Pasado's Safe Haven is currently offering up a $36,000 reward for any information leading up to the killer's arrest.
While there is currently no evidence to suggest that the serial cat killer has harmed any humans, Thurston County law enforcement is concerned that the person responsible might escalate to hurting or killing people.
According to animal cruelty investigator Erika Johnson, many of the people she has prosecuted for murder or other violent crimes against humans have started out harming animals. In fact, the FBI started a entirely new database tracking incidents of animal abuse in 2016 because of the overwhelming evidence linking animal cruelty to violent crimes against humans.