DNA evidence nails notorious 'cat serial killer', the problem is there's more than one culprit!
The investigation into the mysterious deaths of hundreds of cats ended after CCTV footage showed foxes carrying the dead animals
Scotland Yard finally closed a long-running investigation into the infamous 'Croydon Cat Killer', an individual who was thought to have killed, dismembered and decapitated more than 400 cats since 2014 in the Croydon area of London. The spate of killings had sparked panic amongst the populace, with calls for police to find the killer reaching fever pitch after several cats were found bludgeoned to death and their dissected corpses were left in full public view.
According to the BBC, 25 post-mortem examinations carried out on the corpses of these slain cats found no evidence of "human involvement". DNA tests and CCTV footage pointed to the same conclusion. Scotland Yard has now attributed the deaths as "likely to be the result of predation or scavenging by wildlife on cats killed in vehicle collisions." The primary suspects are now foxes.
The Metropolitan Police reported that, in three instances where CCTV footage was available, foxes could be seen carrying bodies or body parts of the cats. In one of the cases, CCTV showed a fox carrying a cat's head into a school playground, and post-mortem examinations conducted by the Head of Veterinary Forensic Pathology at the Royal Veterinary College found fox DNA on the cats' bodies.
The theory that there was no human killer involved was backed by the opinion of Stephen Harris, a retired professor of environmental sciences at the University of Bristol, who had studied fox behavior for 50 years. He asserted in an article for New Scientist that there was no killer and that the pattern of blunt-force trauma followed by the removal of head and tail was consistent with road traffic accidents and then scavenging by foxes.
He had previously also helped the police crack a similar case in the '90s when dozens of cats were discovered dead in Greater London. Back then, it was found that foxes were the culprits.
In a statement, the Met said, "No evidence of human involvement was found in any of the reported cases. There were no witnesses, no identifiable patterns and no forensic leads that pointed to human involvement. Witness statements were taken but no suspect was identified. In three instances where CCTV was obtained, footage showed foxes carrying bodies or body parts of cats."
After the initial scare that a cat serial killer was on the loose, detectives received more than 400 reports of cats being mutilated and disemboweled across London and surrounding counties. Police subsequently began to investigate the killings under the name 'Operation Takahe,' with animal lovers offering a £10,000 reward for information leading to the capture of a killer. PETA similarly offered a £5,000 reward to anyone providing information to the police that would lead to the arrest and conviction of the murderer.
Following the increasing pressure to apprehend a suspect, the Surrey police even released a description of the suspect that described him as "a white man in his 40s with acne scars, dark clothes, and short brown hair, who may be wearing a headlamp or carrying a torch." They also said that the attacker may have been wearing protective clothes and gloves to avoid getting scratched by the cats.
After the recent conclusion of the investigation, Amanda Pearson of the Met said that people should report any such future concerns to the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), and not the police, if there was no evidence of human wrongdoing.
"On average, the Met receives over 1,000 calls each month relating to animals and animal welfare. I would urge people to report concerns relating to animal welfare in the first instance to the RSPCA," she said.
All the cases of cat mutilation reported as part of the investigation have been recorded as 'no crime.'