The authorities and residents in a South London, England neighborhood are working to find a man dubbed “cat the ripper” who has killed dozens of animals – and investigators fear that human victims will likely be next, The Guardian reported today. While exact numbers are not yet known, as of this writing, up to 50 animals have been ritualistically killed by an unknown perpetrator. The Guardian reported that over the past two years alone, two foxes and at least 35 cats have been killed and mutilated in Croydon.
The Independent reported in December that investigators fear that the killer will likely move on to human victims next. Birmingham City University Criminology lecturer Dr. Adam Lynes said that serial killers – including Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, and David Berkowitz – typically begin their crime waves by injuring and killing animals first. Dr. Lynes stated: “The fact that several bodies were found with heads and tails removed suggests that it’s the same person behind the attacks. Unless the person responsible is caught soon, I think it’s very likely they will continue to kill more cats — and they could even make the leap to attacking humans.”
While the known killings are only in the Croydon area a this time, it is unknown just how far the killings have extended. Residents have been horrified to discover that their cats have been found with their heads and tails removed. Nick Jerome’s eight-year-old tabby, Oscar, was one of the victims. Jerome stated: “I’d read about similar incidents in the paper, but it was happening miles from where I live so I never thought to keep the cat indoors.”
As of this writing, a petition urging the police to take action to stop the killer has more than 46,000 signatures. The petition states: “…cat attacks have been reported in South London on previous occasions…[since] 2008, [when] it was reported that four pets had been killed in separate incidents. The cats of South London need to be protected…”
Actor and animal lover Martin Clunes, who went to school in Croydon, wrote a letter to Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan police commissioner. Clune’s letter stated: “This is the stuff of nightmares. The local community is understandably distraught and frightened. No one feels safe while this sick individual is on the loose. Research in psychology and criminology shows that people who commit acts of cruelty to animals don’t stop there – many of them move on to their fellow humans. That is a scary thought indeed.”
Animal lovers across the world are concerned about these crimes. If you or someone you know has any information about these killings, call the RSPCA at 0300 123 8018. And please SHARE this story to get the word out. Updates to this story will be posted as they occur.