British police issue description of suspected serial cat killer
Man in his 40s thought to be behind deaths and mutilation of 250 cats, and other animals
Tony Jenkins of South Norwood Animal Rescue and Liberty (Snarl) said postmortems on about 40 cats proved the same person is behind the attacks. File photograph: Joseph Guthrie/EyeEm
The first description has been released of a suspected serial cat killer who has eluded police in England for almost two years.
The culprit, believed to be a man, is behind the deaths and mutilation of about 250 cats, as well as dozens of foxes and rabbits, since October 2015, according to the South Norwood Animal Rescue and Liberty (Snarl).
He was originally known as the “Croydon cat killer”, but as bodies began to turn up in other areas of London and beyond the capital, the charity urged people to drop the label. He then became known as the “M25 cat killer”, but attacks have since occurred as far afield as Manchester, Birmingham, Brighton and the Isle of Wight.
The description of the individual believed to be behind all of the attacks has been published on the Snarl website. He is said to be a white man in his 40s with short brown hair, dressed in dark clothing, possibly with acne scarring to his face. It also says he may be wearing a headlamp or carrying a torch.
Snarl co-founder Tony Jenkins said the description had been shared with his organisation by Surrey police and was based on witnesses to three recent cat killings in Caterham, Surrey.
“It matches similar descriptions from other areas,” said Mr Jenkins. “We’ve been working on this case since October 2015, going up and down the UK, tracking the bodies he leaves behind. I am very hopeful it’s a major breakthrough.”
Anyone who sees the suspect is advised to call 999 and quote operation Takahe - but not to approach him.
Mr Jenkins said: “He is obviously carrying at least one knife so if anyone does approach him, they’re putting themselves in danger.”
He also said emotions are running high. The Snarl website warns the attacker to hand himself in “before members of the public get hold of you”. But Mr Jenkins cautioned that the person in the description may not be guilty and that people should not jump to conclusions if they see someone offering toys or food to cats.
In one recent incident, a cat was found without its head and tail in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. The tail of another cat was found in the same spot. Another cat was found mutilated in Northamptonshire on Monday and another tail was found near a children’s playground in a park in Ewell, Surrey, this week.
Mr Jenkins said postmortems carried out on about 40 cats prove the same person is behind the attacks, as do distinguishing marks on the corpses. “Unfortunately, I have seen most of the bodies and there are some signature injuries which allow us to link them,” he said.
The charity is so concerned at the rising death toll that it is urging people not to let their cats out at night, when most of the killings have taken place. A message on the website reads: “We are not taking this step lightly. This is a warning for cat owners from Manchester down to the south coast. Please keep your cats indoors at night until further notice and during the day if you can.”
Animal charities Peta UK and Outpaced are offering a reward of £10,000 (€10,800) for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person “responsible for the killing and mutilation of cats and foxes”.
– Guardian Service