Cat owners in London and its surrounding areas are living in fear that their animal might be the next to be brutally murdered by a twisted individual who’s been dubbed the ‘M25 Cat Killer’.
Having killed and dismembered an estimated 250 felines since 2014, the person – or possibly group of people – responsible struck again last month. The headless corpse of a pet cat was found over the Easter weekend, ‘ritualistically’ laid out in a garden in Redhill, Surrey. The animal was being looked after by a cat-sitter while its owners were away.
The nickname of the killer (assuming they act alone) derives from the 117-mile M25 motorway circling London. They first came to attention when London animal charity South Norwood Animal Rescue and Liberty (SNARL) was alerted to a series of cat deaths in which the felines’ heads and tails had been removed. Corpses were found in quick succession in the London suburbs of Croydon, Streatham, Mitcham Common, Sutton, Charlton, Peckham and Finchley. In subsequent deaths, paws have been removed or the cat has literally been sliced in half.
In November 2015 the Metropolitan Police opened a case into the horrific crimes under the name Operation Takahe after similarities in the manner and location of the mounting deaths were acknowledged.
Many of the animals are believed to have been struck by a blunt instrument or perhaps thrown against a wall. One vet who examined the stomach contents of several of the recovered corpses found raw chicken in them, leading to theories that the animals were lured to their death.
Speaking after the latest known attack, Tony Jenkins, co-founder of SNARL, told the Daily Mail: ‘He struck the cat with a blunt instrument and then waited with it for half an hour or so before removing its head, which has not been found. He waits for about half an hour before mutilating the animals so there will not be a lot of blood at the scene. It is his sick modus operandi.’
Police believe the killer shows the classic signs of a deranged psychopath who might even be killing cats for sexual kicks.
Two beheaded foxes have also been found in the same geographical area of South London in recent months, leading to suggestions the cat killer does not restrict himself to felines.
So far, no human DNA has been found on any of the cats’ corpses, showing the killer is methodical and clinical in their approach, leaving police with little evidence to go on.
In an email to the Metropolitan Police which was made public last year, Martin Clunes, a TV actor and animal lover, wrote: ‘As someone who shares my home with several four-legged companions I read with horror that some of the cats had been decapitated, disembowelled or dismembered – this is the stuff of nightmares.’
In recent years, an individual or group in the UK has also targeted dozens of horses, mutilating them in what appears to be a ritualistic fashion. However, no link to the cat killer has ever been suggested.