The Cat Killer investigation: ‘This case has taken all of my life completely’

Volunteers at South Norwood Animal Rescue Liberty (SNARL) are helping pet owners to deal with the grief after finding their pets killed.

Since 2015, hundreds of animals have been targeted by a serial killer, initially dubbed the ‘Croydon Cat Killer’, but similar incidents have since been reported across the UK.

SNARL founder Boudicca Rising claims, in most cases, families contact them to find answers about how and why their pets were found dead, and they have been also helping the families deal with the grief of losing a beloved pet.

She said: “Specially for owners where their cats have been found in the garden, they don’t feel particularly safe.

“Basically, they feel trespassed, there has been a trespassing into the property to kill the animal.”

Ms Rising added: “People deal with grief in different ways.

“While there are people who want to talk about it and remember their beloved ones, others prefer not to do it.

“Neither one way or another is right or wrong.”

Involved in the case since 2015, this investigation has affected their personal lives.

While Ms Rising said that she is receiving emails or calls at any time of the day, her partner Tony Jenkins said: “This case has taken all of my life completely.”

They have been struggling to carry out their research when they’ve been notified about a possible case, counting just with the help of volunteers.

Mr Jenkins said: “Sadly we don’t have the resources to do that.”

Professor Fiona Gabbert, director of Goldsmiths’ Forensic Psychology Unit and colleague, Dr Caoimhe McAnena, a forensic clinical lecturer at Goldsmiths University, say the main problem is the large number of assumptions created around the case.

These crimes have generated a lot of controversy around the possibility of being committed by the same person or whether they are unrelated.

Professor Gabbert said: “To avoid any bias over who is responsible, it would be wise not to assume one or the other [single or multiple killers].”

In support of this, Dr McAnena said: “If you believe that it is the same person you might focus on a limited range of facts like the tails being cut off, rather than on other facts and details like the differences between those cuts, that might suggest more than one person is responsible.”

Dr McAnena added: “The longer the killings go on, the more opportunities there are for assumption and bias to develop.”

“It’s absolutely vital to have an open mind and not make any decisions about who it is until you’ve got a sufficient mass of reliable evidence in front of you, and then you can start looking for patterns.” Professor Gabbert said.

Researchers at the Forensic Psychology Unit  in Goldsmiths offered to help the police find patterns by creating a geographic profile of the data surrounding the killings such as time and location, but have received no answer yet.

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan confirmed in May 2018 that there are more than 300 open investigations on offences to solve these animal crimes, but no arrests have yet been made.

Set up in November 2015, the investigation runs under the name Operation Takahe.

This operation involves the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty To Animals (RSPCA), the National Criminal Agency, veterinary pathologists, county forces and the SNARL.

When asked by Green Party assembly member Sian Berry, Mayor Khan said: “No one has been arrested, charged or cautioned by, or on behalf of, the Metropolitan Police Service in relation to Operation TAKAHE.”

Anyone with information about the case, please do call the police on 101, quoting ‘Operation Takahe’ or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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