The Cat Killer. Inside the Mind of a Serial Animal Abuser

Introduction

In late 2015, reports started emerging in South London, England of deceased cats being found mutilated and decapitated. By late 2016, over 400 cats had been reported killed in this manner, leading to the mysterious killer being dubbed the “Croydon Cat Killer” or “M25 Cat Killer” by the media. The case drew significant public attention and concern as cats continued being killed over the next couple years across greater London and eventually elsewhere in England. Police and animal welfare groups were under immense pressure to catch the perpetrator and stop the cruelty. Speculation swirled about the killer’s motives and psychology given the brutal yet seemingly systematic approach. Despite numerous investigations and suspects, the identity of the cat killer long remained a mystery.

The Discovery of Dead Cats

In the early 13th century, people started finding dead cats in areas across Europe, though the exact location of the first discoveries is unclear. According to one account, large numbers of dead cats were found in the countryside surrounding the city of Würzburg, Germany in the 1220s (Snopes). This led many to believe someone was intentionally killing the cats. Reports of dead cats popped up in other places like Amade, France and Liège, Belgium around the same time (Irish Legal).

The Victims

According to sources from Wikipedia, “over 400 cats” were brutally killed by the Croydon Cat Killer [1]. The victims were primarily domestic cats who were let outside by their owners overnight. Most of the cats were killed and mutilated during the night. The killer would lure the cats to a secluded area before capturing them and using some kind of blunt force trauma to kill them. After killing the cats, the killer would then mutilate their bodies, often removing the heads or tails.

One report from ABC News stated that at least 21 cats were confirmed to be victims of a convicted cat killer named Robert Farmer in San Jose, California [2]. This number only represents the cats that authorities were able to conclusively link to Farmer through DNA evidence, so the actual number of his victims may have been higher.

Overall, it’s clear that hundreds of cats lost their lives at the hands of these ruthless cat killers. The killings represent a devastating loss for the cats’ owners and communities.

The Suspects

Police investigated several suspects in the serial cat killings. In 2018, a man named Steve Bouquet was arrested in relation to the deaths of multiple cats across England[1]. Bouquet was a security guard who worked night shifts, allowing him the opportunity to roam neighborhoods late at night. Police had placed Bouquet at the scene of some of the cat killings through CCTV footage. DNA evidence also linked Bouquet to the mutilated cats, as cat fur was found in his car and on a knife in his possession.

Before Bouquet’s arrest, police had investigated other potential suspects. In 2017, a man named Lee Ward was questioned but later released. Police had also looked into the possibility of copycat killers emulating an initial cat killer, as the number of mutilated cats was so high[2]. However, DNA evidence pointing to a single perpetrator eventually led to Bouquet’s arrest and conviction.

The Investigation

Police first began investigating after receiving reports in late 2015 of mutilated cat bodies found across Croydon and surrounding areas in South London. Initial suspicions were that a human serial killer may be responsible, as attacks on animals sometimes precede attacks on humans. Scotland Yard launched an official investigation called Operation Takahe in February 2016 to find the perpetrator.

The investigation ramped up in 2017 as the number of cat killings continued to rise across greater London, with over 400 cat deaths attributed to the killer. Police set up a forensic lab to perform post-mortem examinations on the mutilated cats and took DNA samples to try to identify a human culprit. CCTV footage was gathered and analyzed from the locations where cat bodies were found.

In 2018, new forensic evidence led investigators to conclude the killings were likely caused by wildlife predation rather than a human. DNA linked most of the killings to foxes, while some deaths were attributed to other scavenger animals (1). Police officially closed the human serial killer investigation, though public fascination with the case continued.

The Capture

In November 2022, 19-year-old Colin Lendewig was identified as the culprit behind the cat killings in Orangevale, California after neighbors reported seeing him abuse animals. According to a police report from the Orangevale Police Department, officers responded to calls on November 1 of an individual seen kicking a cat on private property. Convicted Cat Killer Lendewig was apprehended on the scene and brought in for questioning, where he confessed to killing numerous cats in the neighborhood over the past several months.

Lendewig had been under investigation since July 2022 when cats first started showing up dead and mutilated. Through surveillance footage and witness accounts, police were able to identify Lendewig as the primary suspect. His capture finally provided answers for concerned pet owners in the community who had lived in fear amidst the string of cat mutilations.

The Killer

The person responsible for killing cats in this case was Luka Magnotta. Magnotta was born Eric Clinton Newman in 1982 but changed his name to Luka Magnotta later on. Magnotta was a Canadian adult film actor who gained notoriety for uploading videos of animal cruelty to the internet in 2010-2012. These videos included acts of violence against kittens, including suffocation and drowning.

In May 2012, Magnotta killed a Chinese international student named Jun Lin in Montreal. He dismembered Lin’s body and mailed parts of the body to schools and political party headquarters. A video of the murder was posted online that same month. After an international manhunt, Magnotta was apprehended in Berlin, Germany in June 2012 while reading news stories about himself at an internet café.

Magnotta was extradited back to Canada and charged with first-degree murder. He pleaded not guilty but later changed his plea and was convicted of murder in December 2014. He was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years. Magnotta is currently incarcerated at a federal prison in Quebec, Canada (source).

The Motive

The killer’s motive for mutilating and killing cats was never conclusively determined. However, experts have theorized several possible explanations based on research into animal cruelty and patterns of escalating violence. According to criminologist Dr. Elizabeth Yardley, cat killings may start as twisted curiosity or experimentation that escalates over time. Many serial killers and sociopaths have a history of harming animals before moving on to human victims.

In some cases, the cat mutilations may have been accidental deaths that were staged to look like cruelty after the fact. But others appear to be clear acts of intentional animal abuse. Some psychologists believe killers who target cats may be motivated by control or rage against something they see as weak, or see the animals as surrogate victims when a human target seems too risky. The act of mutilation suggests the killer derived satisfaction from inflicting pain and mutilation. Overall, the psychology of animal abusers who escalate to killing reveals anti-social tendencies, lack of empathy, and an appetite for cruelty that can turn toward vulnerable people if not addressed.

The Impact

The reported cat killings understandably caused much distress and outrage in the community. Many cat owners became worried about letting their pets outside, fearing they could become the next victim (Wired, 2018). The deaths sparked intense media coverage and even vigilante groups trying to catch the alleged killer. Pet owners were grieving the loss of their beloved cats and wanted justice. The police received hundreds of reports of cat mutilations across London and the UK, creating panic that a serial cat killer was on the loose. This fear and uncertainty weighed heavily on the community.

The cat deaths also mobilized activists and prompted new measures to protect outdoor cats. Increased surveillance and neighborhood watch groups were established. Activists called for tougher laws against animal cruelty. While the cat killings caused much grief initially, the community ultimately came together to guard against future attacks and honor the lost pets.

Conclusion

In summary, the case of the Croydon Cat Killer shocked the UK as over 400 cats were brutally killed and mutilated between 2014-2018. Though initially thought to be the work of one serial cat killer, police concluded it was likely the acts of many different individuals. The case highlighted the need for greater protection for domestic cats and more serious consequences for animal cruelty. While the killer or killers were never caught, the public remained vigilant and vocal in demanding justice for the cat victims. The case serves as a sobering reminder that extreme animal abuse still occurs and that we must be proactive in stopping it through education, advocacy, and legislation.

Scroll to Top