Investigation into dead cats on family’s property leads to catnapping charges, police say

Investigation into dead cats on family’s property leads to catnapping charges, police say
Fur remains in Liz Masterson's driveway where she found one of nine dead cats.

A 73-year-old Portage man faces tentative charges of disorderly conduct and catnapping after an investigation into reports of dead domestic cats being thrown onto a Columbia County family’s property.

On March 22, town of Lewiston resident Liz Masterson called the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office to report that she had found the bodies of multiple cats on her property near Anacker Road.

“There was no trauma to the skull or broken ribs,” said Masterson. “These are all healthy cats. They’re well-fed. Some of them had their nails trimmed. Some of them were declawed. They all had this expression of agony.”

She found another dead cat on March 25.

“It was pretty clear that someone was throwing them on this person’s property,” said Roger Brander, a Columbia County Sheriff’s Office lieutenant detective. “We didn’t have a lot of information except we had a homeowner that had some dead cats on her property and the cats weren’t hers.”

The next day, the woman reported seeing a man exit a vehicle that was stopped in the road in front of her residence and throw a dead cat onto her property, according to the release. The woman told deputies she knew who the person was from previous contacts with him.

“It was very scary. I took every single dead cat that I found as a threat to family, my parents who live next door to me, my children and my animals,” said Masterson.

Masterson said she found nine cats in total. She decided to post pictures of the cats’ bodies on Facebook to give closure to families who were missing their pet.

“Once that post was made, we then had here in the city at least three separate families file reports that they had missing their family pet,” said Portage police Lt Detective Dan Garrigan,.

Garrigan said the cats went missing from the same neighborhood in Portage. This detail helped lead detectives to the 73-year-old man and issued him an order to be in court April 18 on tentative charges of disorderly conduct and catnapping.

“However, with the investigation still ongoing, there’s potentially more charges that could be anticipated,” said Garrigan.

As the man has not yet been charged, officials are not naming him.

Detectives are still trying to piece together what happened to the cats after the man took them and before he dumped them on Anacker Road.

They do not yet have enough evidence to prove he poisoned the cats.

“I’m hoping that there is somebody who can come forward that has seen something that would be able to indicate that the cats were killed at his hand,” said Masterson.