In a small seaside village in southern France, residents are reeling after a month-long reign of terror by an unknown killer. The target? The town’s cat population. Over 200 cats have been killed in Saint Pierre la Mer, most likely from ingesting some kind of poison, authorities believe. The responsible party has been dubbed the “cat serial killer.”
Both stray cats and those who live with locals have fallen ill since early May. In an interview with La Depeche, a resident told of her cats’ deaths: "They vomited something blue, they mewed and died.”
Cats have been found dead in homes and along sidewalks, many with blue tongues. The Association of Stray Cats has contacted police in an attempt to have autopsies carried out.
Birds and small rodents have also been found poisoned by the same substance, leading to growing fears in the community of just what, or who might be responsible. "The atmosphere has become hateful, nobody trusts anyone," a villager who identified herself as Geneviève was told the Ouest-France, “We're all afraid a child might ingest some of this mystery poison.”
The London Cat Serial Killer
The recent events in France have reminded Europeans of a previous cat killer who brutally murdered at least 230 cats in a South London borough called Croydon. The person or group responsible has still not been identified.
The murderer has become known through the media as the the M25 Cat Killer, the Croydon Cat Killer, and the Cat Ripper of Croydon. The cats' bodies were found near their homes, out in the open, as if left to be discovered. News reports continuously use the term “eviscerated” to describe the condition of the bodies, and often the cats were decapitated and their tails were removed. The bodies have also been found with a mysterious lack of blood, leading investigators to believe that the bodies were transported somewhere else and then returned.
A forensic analysis of several corpses by police showed a precision of cuts, with the removal of the head, tail, intestines, leading them to believe a knife was used, rather than a string of unconnected attacks by larger animals, as some reports were alluding. The autopsy showed that the cats died initially of blunt-force trauma, either hit with a tool or a car. The leading officer on the case told The Independent in 2016, “It is possible that the six cats we have examined were killed accidentally, but equally it could have been intentional. But once they were dead it seems that heads and tails have been removed by human hand.”
Fears spread through the London area that the M35 Cat Killer might be moving toward human victims. However, professor Vince Egan of Nottingham University, who teaches in the field of forensic psychology, told The Independent in 2016, “In some individuals we have seen animal cruelty as part of a broader pattern in which humans are also harmed. It is far more likely that this reflects a rather more banal pattern of anti-social behaviour, such as drunkenness or something that doesn’t go further. But when we have so little to go on you have to keep your mind open.”
2017 Portsmouth Cat Killings
Police have linked recent cat killings in Portsmouth to the M25 Cat Killer. In April 2017, police discovered three cats have had been beheaded in the Southsea area.
A Hampshire Police spokesman said: "We believe these incidents may be linked to Operation Takahe, a series of cat deaths in the Croydon/M25 area, and is being investigated by the Metropolitan Police Service."
Tim Sparkes was the owner of Poppy, one of the cats that was killed. He spoke to Portsmouth News about his fears: “It’s really about getting the message out there that this person has been around the Portsmouth area now and he appears to be doing it in clusters. He’s becoming more brazen, usually it’s not in a road, normally it’s in someone’s garden. It seems to be a step up in his way in killing.”
Police have been warning locals to keep their pets safe: "Our advice is not to let cats out at night, most of the deaths are happening at night. If anyone finds bodies please call us and we will come out and get the police out if necessary.”
Link between Killings in England and France
So far, there has been no link between the cat slayings in England and those in France. The M.O.s are very different, the killings in England being from blunt-force trauma and mutilation, and those in France being from an unknown poison. Police are still shaky on whether, certainly, these cats have all been killed intentionally by a person or persons. But the autopsies of those killed in France have yet to be carried out, so perhaps the French public will soon know more about this mysterious poison, and who, exactly, might want to harm their beloved pet.