As expressed last week on Twitter, this week finds a bit of a different blog post from TTCE. Different, but no less shocking or important. It differs because to begin with, it is arguably the most widely publicised case TTCE has featured to date. It is also very current, indeed, it’s consideration as a serial case only having its genesis in October 2015. And the victimology differs from anything featured on TTCE to date, because the victims in this case are household pets – mainly cats, although wild animals have been targeted as well.
SNARL (South Norwood Animal Rescue and Liberty) are a South Norwood, London, based animal charity that came to fruition in 2014 after the founders, Boudicca Rising and Anthony Jenkins had spent many years unofficially rescuing and finding homes for animals in need. For such a localised charity, SNARL has, however, found itself propelled into national attention in the past couple of years. It is SNARL themselves who, partly to their locale and partly to the passion and commitment of the founders, that are leading the hunt for a deeply disturbed individual who has been brutally slaughtering animals in the most horrific of ways. The press have christened the offender “The Croydon Cat Ripper”, but as the offender has escalated in his offending, perhaps a more fitting moniker and one that is preferred as more factually accurate by SNARL is the “M25 Animal killer”. The majority of the attacks, more than 200 in number, have taken place within a catchment area of here. But attacks attributed to this offender have been reported as far north as Manchester and as far south as Brighton and Portsmouth. The offender shows no signs of abating, and chillingly, seems to be becoming bolder and more prolific in his slaughter. This individual needs to be caught and prosecuted as soon as possible, before animals are not enough for him to kill and the offender progresses to a human target.
Boudicca was happy to be contacted by TTCE earlier this week, and was very informative when asked to explain the modus operandi of the offender, how SNARL deals with cases reported to them, and the actions that should be taken in the event that someone should find a carcass, or witness someone acting in a suspicious manner with an animal. She also provided a very useful and comprehensive chronology of the offences so far.
SNARL began investigating in October 2015, but it is possible that the offender began slaughtering animals long before, perhaps as far back as 2008. Unfortunately, many of the carcasses before SNARL began investigating may have been disposed of, with the mutilations being mistaken for the work of other animals. There are far too many cases to list individually here, but a general modus operandi of the offender is as follows.
Typically, the offender will target cats – this has been the bulk of the victims, but rabbits, foxes and birds have also been targeted. All of the animals are striking looking and are in a good condition, in that they clearly are a loved and cared for pet. Not many stray Toms are targeted here. The cats are then enticed – often using raw chicken (which has been found in the stomachs of many of the feline victims by autopsying vets) – and are then killed by blunt force trauma. This was thought to be as a result of being run over at first, but is also possible that the animals are either thrown against a wall, clubbed or “knee dropped”, which kills or paralyses them. The animals are then horrifically mutilated, often beheaded and de-tailed. Sometimes a combination of both, sometimes one or the other, sometimes the animals are cut in half, sometimes the limbs or paws are removed. The bodies are then left on display where they will provide maximum shock effect – this has been in close proximity to schools, in the owners gardens or on their driveways, even underneath their bedroom windows. In many of the cases, the heads and tails are never found. Often, the offender will return to the dump site days or even weeks later, to deposit body parts to further shock. The bodies are always significantly posed as well. The offender is believed to use a sharp bladed weapon for the mutilations, which are very precise. Typically, the offender is specific in the mutilation, which according to Boudicca makes it able for SNARL to be able to recognise the offenders handiwork. Sadly, they have become quite polished at this by now. They have been able to link at least 180 slaughtered cats, and 40 foxes and fox cubs as the work of this killer.
The majority of attacks have been focused around the south east of the UK, typically the Greater London area – but there have also been confirmed attacks as far afield as Manchester, Birmingham and Brighton with animals being found with identical wounds to the ones the offender likes to leave. SNARL have also reported an escalation in the offending, both in the mutilation which is becoming more extreme, the number of reported cases, and an increase in the risk taking by the offender. In the words of one of the vets that SNARL has in its employ to autopsy the poor creatures, “the offender is getting better at mutilating”. There have also been cases where the offender has killed the animal in the back of the owner’s garden – and has spent considerable amounts of time at the scene. Whereas it has been difficult to pinpoint a time of death, or a time that the offender favours killing, there have been cases where this has occurred early in the morning, and the bodies have been left in ever increasing public places. This is an offender escalating, becoming bolder and more ferocious.
Many theories have been examined as to why the offender does what he does. Gang initiation rituals and black magic ritual have all been suggested and discounted. No links between any of the pet owners have been discovered, for example delivery drivers from a company that they may have had, or workers doing repair work at their houses that they may have had in common. None have been found to have anybody who disliked them enough to cause such sickening harm and upset. No, it seems that the offender chooses animals at random out of pure sadism. This random choosing seems more likely because often, the animals are placed back not quite at their home – but perhaps on a nearby driveway or across the road from where they lived. This suggests that the offender doesn’t know the owners and chooses animals at random, working on a basis that a cat will never stray far from its home. If they were deliberately targeted, then the remains would be left at the correct address to cause maximum shock and upset. He chooses cats and wild animals because they are the most readily available. Sadly – what is more natural to do that let a cat have freedom to roam around outside? He has never attacked dogs or horses – at least not to the knowledge of investigators – these are larger, more dangerous animals and ones that are not as readily available to entice and kill as cats are.
It has sadly taken great time, cost and effort for SNARL, but they are finally managing to work in conjunction with both the RSPCA and the Metropolitan Police now, and the hunt for this individual has a name now: Operation Takahe. But the hunt is like looking for a needle in a haystack. There is no physical description of the offender, no discernible pattern to the attacks in date or time, no connection between the owners, and often the animals are not discovered until they have been dead for considerable time – ensuring the already near impossible trail is already cold. Several of the animals have also been checked for DNA traces in the possibility that they may have scratched the offender – but this has so far drawn a blank.
So what then, is known about the offender? It should be noted that the following should not be taken as definitive, this is a working hypothesis based upon what can be estimated about the offender, through the offences. Nor are any of the following observations intended to sensationalise the offences. For the same reasons, although there are graphic images available of the offenders work through searching, TTCE does not wish to cause offence and upset for any readers or any of the pet owners involved. Therefore, no images of the kind will be reproduced here.
It is very likely that the offender is male. SNARL believes that this is the case due to the mutilation in some cases requiring considerable strength. TTCE is inclined to agree with this, so for purpose here will refer to “him” using the masculine tense. He is likely to be no older than early to mid 30. Again, this is not definitive but is an educated guess based on the following reasoning. He is likely to be older than teenage because the geography of the attacks suggests that he is very mobile, able to travel and can fund travelling. TTCE has estimated that he is no older than early to mid 30’s, an age range that the investigators tend to favour and estimate the offender to fall into. The level of forensic awareness and organisation of the offences also support the offender being at the older end of the estimated age bracket. He will likely be employed in a manual job and have access to a car, perhaps in the capacity of a courier or delivery driver working alone.
Due to the concentration of the attacks being in the Greater London area, it is likely that the offender lives or has strong connections within this geographical catchment area, particularly Croydon. Offenders operate within an area that they feel comfortable with, at least early on in their offending. The geography of the attacks is widespread enough to suggest that the offender drives a vehicle, and this is supported thus: As the animals are rarely killed where they are found – this offender has to transport the animals somewhere, somehow. It is unlikely that he uses a cat carrier and travels by tube or bus – this would be remembered and would draw attention to him. It is more likely that he entices the animals into a car, where they are then transported somewhere to be killed. This could be a house or dwelling, or could be a lock up garage, shed or pigeon kit.
It is impossible to ascertain any physical description of the offender, as he has never been seen committing the attacks or had a near miss with being discovered. He is forensically aware and very organised in what he does – he has managed to avoid being seen in each case, and shows awareness of any CCTV in the area. It is quite possible that this is an experienced burglar, and one who will have certainly have offended in youth, perhaps by committing arson or criminal damage. He is likely to live alone, be single and a loner and secretive in nature – TTCE believes that these offences are his pride and joy and he would not want to share this with another. A person in a happy relationship with a partner or spouse, with many friends, does not spend the majority of his nights butchering animals. Also, the attacks are so horrific and abhorrent in nature that it is very likely that anyone else knowing the identity of the offender would have an attack of conscience and talked to someone, and this would have come to the attention of authorities. He is likely to have been bullied as a youngster and to have been a bully himself – and feels the need to now assert himself using defenceless creatures that he can completely dominate.
TTCE believes that this offender is a fully fledged sadist, one that is possibly mentally ill. It is easy to dismiss such horror as the workings of an obvious madman, but there is also a large degree of commitment, control and organisation in these offences to suggest that this is a functioning psychopath. He has no problem dealing with death or decomposition, indeed, at some point in his psychological growth one or both of these has had a remarkable and lasting effect on this man. This man enjoys killing and enjoys causing suffering, and it is very possible, indeed likely, that he waits and watches the dump sites from a safe distance because he wants to relish the shock and horror that he has caused upon discovery of the carcass. He may film this, and is likely to have filmed or taken photographs of the mutilations he has carried out – this is a person possibly, indeed likely, sexually dysfunctional who clearly gets his only kicks doing these acts, and wishes to relive the acts over and over. He will also likely keep any press clippings and will follow any reports concerning the case online. Perhaps what is most disturbing is that the heads and tails of the animals are often not found at all – suggesting that the offender keeps them as trophies, most likely in his “kill spot”.
This is a very dangerous offender, and one who needs to be caught and stopped sooner rather than later. The escalation of the offences both in number and ferocity suggest that this is beginning to plateau for him. He has become bolder in his attacks, attacking and killing in owners gardens that he has been prowling in, spending more time there with more risk of discovery, even returning to the scenes that he has dumped bodies at previously to deposit more body parts, often in macabre and sickening poses. All of which is increasing in alarming frequency – when TTCE spoke to Boudicca just five days ago she informed that SNARL had 12 cats that were awaiting autopsy! It is almost as though he needs to keep upping the ante, and if not stopped will eventually move on to bigger prey when cats and foxes just don’t satisfy his bloodlust anymore. Dogs perhaps will be attacked at first, but eventually this won’t be enough and this man will begin to attack human prey.
Boudicca has the following advice/requests for anyone who sees a person acting suspiciously whilst trying to entice an animal, or is seen hurting or maiming an animal in any way:
- If you see anyone behaving oddly around cats,foxes or birds in the area from Manchester down to the South Coast, please call police via 101 with a full description of the person and what they are doing, and quote Operation Takahe in the call.
- Where possible get vehicle registration details of the persons vehicle.
- If possible, take photos or video with a smartphone
If an animal is found in the same geographical area with any of the injuries/mutilations described here, Boudicca requests the following:
- Stay with the body if possible and contact SNARL immediately
- Although upsetting, make a record to evidence as much of the scene as possible to establish if the animal has been killed there or just dumped there.
- Prevent any council or waste services from touching or removing it and anyone from photographing it.
- SNARL phones are by nature busy so please persevere trying to get through.
- Advise anyone living in the Greater London area to keep their cats indoors as much as they can and let them out only during the day when they can be supervised.
- “Please keep your cats in at night. We appreciate this isn’t easy, particularly as the weather gets warmer but you will cut the risk to your cat dramatically if you keep them indoors during the hours of darkness.”
As shown, there is a substantial reward available for information leading to the arrest and conviction of this individual. SNARL is doing a fantastic job in the face of adversity here, and should be commended and fully supported for their continuing good work and commitment to bringing this individual to justice. Full links to their Facebook page and website, along with contact details, can be found here: SNARL Facebook or at SNARL Website
If the offender should read this post, and there is every chance that the narcissist in this individual may come across this blog post whilst searching for any discussion of his exploits, TTCE has the following to say.
“You are a sick, pathetic individual and a coward hiding in anonymity. This does not or will not ever impress, it is evil and bloodlust and has caused nothing but misery and heartache. You need to be stopped, and eventually you will be caught and stopped, and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Give this up, give yourself up”
If anyone has any information concerning this case, or should discover an animal that bears any of the hallmarks described here, please do not hesitate to contact SNARL on the numbers provided, or contact police on 101, quoting Operation Takahe.
The True Crime Enthusiast