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Headless cats found in Utah park


This news story was published on January 5, 2012.
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Jasen Asay, Standard-Examiner, Ogden, Utah –

CLEARFIELD — The next time Jana Taylor takes her dog for a walk in the park, she plans to carry pepper spray and her cellphone.

Those two precautions, she said, may help her catch whoever is responsible for decapitating cats.

Clearfield police and Davis County Animal Care and Control are investigating two incidents of cats being found with their heads cut off in James Barlow Park. The first was reported Saturday; the second took place Monday.

Taylor said she and Luke, her 7-year-old Maltese, have actually found four decapitated cats in the park. The most recent incident occurred Monday, Taylor said, when the pair came across a teenage boy cutting the head off a dead cat.

“It was unreal,” said Taylor, 51. “He left his butcher knife there, and Luke chased him up the hill. I chased after them.”

Lt. Adam Malan said police are looking for the suspect, described as a 5-foot-8-inch male, about 17 years old, who was wearing a black hoodie and blue jeans with lots of holes.

Malan said the police are being careful with their investigation and are not jumping to any conclusions.

“We don’t want to have the public think someone is going around brutally killing cats,” he said. “We just have to consider all the factors in it.”

Malan pointed to an incident last March, when Clearfield police found two human skulls and several hundred pounds of animal bones, flesh and blood in a shed. The suspect told police that those items were used for religious purposes.

Malan said people should still be cautious and not allow their cats to wander in the area.

Taylor said the owner of the black-and-white feline she found Monday came to identify his cat after police contacted him. The owner said the cat, which was microchipped, had been missing for a week.

Davis County Animal Care and Control Director Clint Thacker said his department has the carcass of the first cat, found Saturday, and is still investigating the cause of death.

“We don’t know for certain if the decapitation is by people or by animals,” he said. “We just don’t know. We’re very hesitant to say someone is going around decapitating cats.” Thacker said the investigating officers, in their opinion, did not see any tool markings or signs of cutting with a knife. Had a knife been used to cut off the head, he said, there would have been an even mark where the slicing had occurred. “They said (the marks on the cat) were very rugged and didn’t look like they were done with a sharp instrument,” Thacker said. That was why he could not rule out the chance that an animal was responsible. “One of first things a wild animal does is go for the head,” Thacker said. Taylor, who also owns a cat, said she feels violated, because she and the dog go to the park every day. Many people use the park for walking, playing sports or playing on the playground, Taylor said, and she does not want more headless cats showing up. “I think it’s the same guy doing it to all of the cats,” she said. “I feel it’s my duty to go back to the park to try to catch this guy.”

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