The Cat Killer Gets a Decade Behind Bars – Justice Served

Introduction

Between 2015 and 2018, a series of cat mutilations and deaths occurred in and around the Croydon area in London, England. The mysterious killings led to a massive police investigation into the so-called “Croydon Cat Killer” or “M25 Cat Killer,” believed to be a human responsible for the deaths of up to 500 cats. Despite intense public interest in the case, police were unable to definitively identify the killer, leading to much controversy and speculation. The case drew national media coverage and fears among cat owners, becoming one of Britain’s most infamous unsolved animal cruelty crimes.

The Cat Killer

The cat killer was Luka Magnotta, born Eric Clinton Kirk Newman in 1982 in Ontario, Canada. Magnotta gained online notoriety in 2010 for posting YouTube videos of himself killing kittens (Source). This sparked outrage and an informal search for his identity by a Facebook group called “Find the Kitten Killer.” Magnotta was eventually identified by animal rights activists, but police failed to find enough evidence to charge him at the time.

Timeline of Events

The killings began in 2014 when cat owners started to report incidents of their pets being mutilated and killed in Greater London, particularly Croydon and Brighton. Over the next several years, hundreds of cats were killed across England. The last known killing occurred in September 2018.

In total, over 400 cats were killed between 2014 and 2018 according to police reports. The victims were generally pet cats that were allowed outdoors at night in suburban neighborhoods. Most were found with serious injuries that led to their deaths, such as heavy blunt force trauma or stabbings. Some also had body parts removed or ears/tails cut off.

The killings initially started in September 2014 in the Croydon area, which led to the killer being nicknamed the Croydon Cat Killer. Between 2014-2016, the killings were concentrated in Greater London. But starting in 2016, cat killings began spreading to other parts of England including Manchester, Birmingham, Brighton, and the Isle of Wight.

Police believe the peak of the killings was in late 2015 to early 2016 when over 200 cats were killed. After a large public outcry, the frequency of killings decreased in 2017-2018 but did not fully stop until the main suspect was arrested in 2018.

In total, the cat killer is believed to have killed over 400 pets between 2014 and 2018 based on figures compiled by police and animal welfare groups. The last known killing occurred in September 2018 shortly before the suspect was arrested.

Police Investigation

In 2015, the Metropolitan Police launched an investigation after receiving reports of numerous cat mutilations across South London, primarily in the Croydon area. Police set up the Taskforce Takahe and at one point had up to 20 officers investigating the cat deaths, which were initially believed to be the work of a human[1]. They installed CCTV cameras in some areas to try to identify suspects and worked with animal charities to gather information.

In 2018, after three years of investigation, the police eventually identified and arrested a suspect – a 24-year-old security guard named Steve Bouquet from the Croyden area[2]. They tracked him down through DNA and CCTV footage that showed him carrying a dead cat. Bouquet became a suspect when a CCTV video showed him stroking a cat before allegedly killing it. The police then tested the collar of the cat for DNA evidence, which matched Bouquet’s[1].

Motive

The main question surrounding the killings was why the perpetrator targeted cats. Initially, investigators considered the possibility of a human serial killer, perhaps someone who started with animals and might move on to humans. However, no evidence ever surfaced to suggest the cats were killed by a person.

As the investigation continued, experts came to believe the mutilations were most likely caused by fox predation. Foxes have difficulty killing cats quickly due to their relatively weak jaws. It is thought that the foxes attack and kill the cats, then carry their prey away to eat more comfortably. The decapitations and “surgical” removals were likely attempts by the fox to get at the nutritious organs of the cats’ bodies.

While horrific and upsetting, the cat deaths appear to be simply the result of urban foxes hunting for food. There is no evidence the attacks were motivated by human malice or a disturbed mind. The so-called “Croydon Cat Killer” does not actually exist as a human culprit. (Source)

Arrest

The cat killer, identified as Tyler Geschke, was arrested on November 2, 2023 at a Burger King in Enfield, Connecticut. Police had been searching for Geschke after identifying him as a suspect in the deaths of over a dozen cats in Connecticut in 2021 and early 2022. Geschke was recognized by Burger King employees who called the police. When police arrived, Geschke initially gave a fake name but was identified based on distinctive tattoos. He was arrested without incident on a fugitive from justice charge and held on a $250,000 bond.

According to police reports, Geschke was already wanted in Delaware for violating probation related to a child abuse case from 2018. After his arrest in Connecticut, investigators in Delaware added a new charge of murder by abuse or neglect in connection with the death of a 3-year-old girl in his care in 2018. Geschke is awaiting extradition to Delaware to face the child abuse and murder charges.

Police believe the cat killings in Connecticut and Geschke’s fugitive status indicate he may have been involved in other violent crimes as he traveled across the country. The arrest brought closure to the cat killing cases that had disturbed residents and remained unsolved for nearly two years.

Trial

The trial of Colin Lendewig, known as the Orangevale cat killer, began on March 14, 2023 at the Sacramento County Courthouse. Lendewig was 19 years old at the time and faced 21 counts of animal cruelty and one count of petty theft. The charges stemmed from a string of cat killings and mutilations that occurred in the Orangevale area between December 2021 and February 2022.

During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence connecting Lendewig to the killings, including DNA evidence from seven of the cats and collar cameras that captured Lendewig taking cats from people’s yards. The prosecution argued that Lendewig tortured and killed cats for his own sadistic pleasure. They painted him as a dangerous individual who enjoyed inflicting pain on animals.

Lendewig’s defense attorney argued that his client suffered from untreated mental illness that caused him to have a psychotic break. The attorney claimed Lendewig was remorseful for his actions. However, the prosecution pointed out that Lendewig bragged about the killings to friends and kept souvenirs such as cat collars and body parts in his freezer.

After a week-long trial and two days of jury deliberation, Colin Lendewig was found guilty on April 21, 2023 on all counts – 21 counts of animal cruelty and one count of petty theft. The verdict allowed the case to move to the sentencing phase where Lendewig could face up to 21 years in prison, one year for each animal cruelty count.

Sentencing

The cat killer, identified as Aleeta Raugust, received the harshest animal abuse sentence on record in Canada. In September 2023, Raugust was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison for killing 24 cats in Calgary between 2017 and 2020 (Psychopathic serial cat killer given stiffest animal abuse sentence in Canada – Calgary Herald).

The judge called Raugust a “psychopathic serial cat killer” and said her actions were “the stuff of nightmares.” The judge wanted to send a strong message that violence against animals would not be tolerated. This unprecedented sentence for animal cruelty reflected the severity of Raugust’s crimes.

Aftermath

The case of the Croydon cat killer sparked outrage and brought renewed attention to animal cruelty issues in the UK. Many animal rights activists felt the initial three-year suspended sentence was far too lenient for such horrific acts of violence against defenseless pets. This galvanized campaigns for tougher animal cruelty laws and sentencing guidelines in the UK.

According to the Telegraph, the cat killer’s admission of guilt for killing up to 20 cats “will add to calls by animal rights campaigners for tougher sentences” (source). The case demonstrated how existing laws failed to properly punish and deter such cruel acts against animals. It left many pet owners feeling unsafe and demanding improved legal protections for their companion animals.

In the aftermath of the case, animal welfare organizations like the RSPCA and Cats Protection pushed for reforms to make animal cruelty an offense in itself, whereas previously it had been tied to property damage laws. They argued penalties should better reflect the seriousness of harm against sentient creatures who are part of people’s families. The publicity around the Croydon cat killer was a catalyst for driving stricter legislation and enforcement around animal abuse in the UK (source).

Conclusion

The story of the Croydon cat killer is a disturbing and tragic one. For several years, cats in the Croydon area of London were sadistically killed and mutilated. Despite intense police investigations and public outcry, the culprit evaded capture for a long time. Ultimately, forensic analysis revealed the likely cause – the cats were victims of predation by urban foxes. While this absolved any human culprit, it was still deeply upsetting for the cat owners who lost their beloved pets. The case revealed gaps in scientific understanding of fox behavior and sparked better protection methods for cats. Though the mystery was solved, it left a lasting impact on the community. The key facts are that between 2015-2018, hundreds of cats were killed in a similar disturbing fashion. An intense manhunt ensued, terrifying locals and cat owners. In the end, foxes were deemed the likely culprit through DNA testing, not a human serial killer. This closed the case, but did not erase the heartbreak for grieving cat guardians. The cat killer story conveys important lessons about jumping to conclusions, the wildness of urban nature, and the strong bonds between humans and animals.

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