The bodies began showing up along Laura Hill Road early in the new year.
The wide thoroughfare cuts through the residential neighborhoods of St. Peters, Mo., northwest of St. Louis. Leafy subdivisions curl off the main road. As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported this week, beginning last January, dead and mutilated cats started appearing along the suburb’s streets.
Local resident Tim Weber told KTVI on Monday he found two dead felines on his property alone.
“One of my kids said, ‘Well, there’s another one in our backyard,’” Weber told KTVI. “So I had one on the side of my yard and in my fenced-in yard.”
But what could have possibly been explained away as roadkill or the result of hungry predators turned out to be something much less easy to understand. And it all tied back to Craigslist.
Last Friday, the St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office arrested a man from the neighborhood named Kaine A. Louzader on two felony charges of animal abuse. Citing court documents, the Post-Dispatch reports that the 20-year-old was allegedly scrolling through Craigslist for cats and then taking them home to brutally kill them.
Louzader is believed to have killed at least 12 felines, according to law enforcement. KPLR reports the defendant is currently out on bail.
“This kind of came out of the blue,” Eric Boehmer, Louzader’s attorney, told KPLR. “[N]o criminal history, no previous allegations of similar behavior. He had good grades in school.”
The arrest will likely further fuel concerns among animal activists about the safety of pet adoptions on sites such as Craigslist. PETA has complied a number of instances where animals were offered on Craigslist, only then to be killed or seriously injured.
“The use of entities such as Craigslist definitely are not a good idea to find a new home for a pet,” Kathy Warnick, the president of the Humane Society of Missouri, told KPLR. "[T[hey do not vet the prospective new owner.”
Louzader’s neighbors were shocked at the allegations.
“Why would anybody want to do anything to a cat for, they do nothing bad,” resident Hiram King told KMOV. “Just mean, ain’t no excuse for it. I’ll be honest with you there’s definitely no excuse for it.”
“It’s disturbing,” Weber told KPLR.
As the Riverfront Times reported this week, police initially picked up Louzader’s trail when a resident spotted a man in a white Toyota Camry dumping what later turned out to be a dead cat from his car on a side street near Laura Hill Road.
Police matched the vehicle to the one that belonged to Louzader, who lived in the neighborhood with his grandparents, the Post-Dispatch reported. According to KPLR, Louzader was employed at Mercy Hospital in St. Charles, Mo.
A St. Charles County police sergeant contacted Louzader last Monday. When the two began speaking, the officer noticed scratches on the suspect’s arms, fingers and hands. He asked about the injuries. Louzader explained that an elderly patient at the hospital where he worked had scratched him.
The police sergeant countered that the marks didn’t look like they came from a human.
Soon, Louzader reportedly admitted the marks were from the cat he had killed just the day before.
According to the Post-Dispatch, he would eventually tell police he had been killing cats since January. He admitted to surfing Craigslist for ads for cats or kittens. He would take in the animals, then stomp their heads or strangle them in the bath at home or on his patio.
Once they were dead, Louzader allegedly said he dismembered some of the animals, cutting off their limbs and head before leaving the parts around the neighborhood.
Louzader was arrested. Mercy Hospital representatives told KPLR his employment at the facility was suspended when the arrest became public. He has since resigned.
“He will be on house arrest,” Louzader’s attorney, Boehmer, explained to KPLR. “[H]e will be confined to his ... house to monitor him, to keep an eye on him and will have a GPS electronic monitoring.”
As St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar explained to KMOV, animal abuse can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. His office decided to go forward with the heavier charge due to the cruelty involved.
“It becomes a felony if the animal was mutilated prior to death, so that is something we’re going to have to look at and make sure that in fact we can prove the animals were mutilated before they died,” Lohmar told the television station. The prosecutor noted the defendant had scratching on him, leading him to believe the animal was still alive “fighting for his life” before it was killed.
Neighbors in the area expressed concern that Louzader’s alleged feline rampage went on for five months before he was caught.
“If someone’s capable of doing that to an animal, who knows what they can do,” St. Peters resident Doug Custer told KTVI. “I can’t imagine what kind of sick person would do that to an animal.”
More from Morning Mix: