A repulsive sight greeted a crew from the Yonkers Department of Public Works on Thursday, who were clearing debris from a wooded area overlooking the Hudson River – dozens of cats, bagged and in various states of decomposition, hanging from trees. The cats, beaten and eviscerated, were stuffed inside of totes and tied around the leafless branches of several trees.
According to the USA Today on Friday, city sanitation workers were performing their annual cleanup of the woods when the bags were discovered. Police responded and are investigating the sadistic scene. Officials say it appears that all of the cats were killed before being bagged and hung.
Supervisor Glenn Stefanik was working with his crew when they made the grisly discovery. “We pulled on the bag and a little black kitten fell out,” Stefanik said. “It was a day or two old.” A total of 25 bags were found, each containing one cat or kitten. Littered below the trees were beer cans and bottles, as well as a baseball bat, two shovels and a metal pipe that police collected as possible evidence.
The NY Daily News says necropsies were performed on some of the slain felines, which showed the cats were killed by blunt force beatings to the head. Ernest Lungaro of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Westchester said some of the bodies appeared to have been placed in the trees within the past few weeks. Other bags contained only skeletal remains.
“We have never been confronted by a scene like this,” Lungaro said. “The sheer number and the fact that they were hanging, it is disturbing.” Lt. Patrick McCormack of the Yonkers Police Department said they have no suspects yet but did indicate that the killings did not appear to be ritualistic in nature. Police said the killings would be treated as animal cruelty. Killing a cat, dog or other pet in a “depraved and sadistic manner” is a felony in New York, punishable with a fine of as much as $5,000 and up to five years in prison.
Investigators said there have been no reports recently made about missing pet cats. Alley Cat Allies – a Maryland-based animal advocacy organization – is offering a $750 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person(s) responsible for the heinous killings.
"This is a disturbing and horrific case of animal cruelty, and we need to find whoever is responsible," said Becky Robinson, president of Alley Cat Allies. “There is obviously cruelty all across the country, but this is the most horrific case we have ever heard of, and it is very disturbing.”
This is not the work of someone who is a little upset. This is the work of someone who is deranged. – Becky Robinson, Alley Cat Allies
Residents who live near the wooded area are concerned for their safety. “I’m scared, because what if next it’s people?” asked 22-year-old Shatiqua Shubrick, who lives next door. Ora Ortiz, 43, said she has been feeding strays – some 30 cats a day – but that she noticed a smell coming from the woods. “There was a smell on this block for a while,” Ortiz said. “We were thinking it was trash.”
The Poughkeepsie Journal reports that Yonkers police are asking anyone with information to call 914-377-7724. Tips also can be left anonymously by texting "YPD" with the tip to 847-411. Residents also can call the SPCA's Animal Cruelty Hotline at 914-941-7797.