MESA, Ariz. – Several people armed with signs gathered in a Mesa neighborhood Tuesday morning to make others aware of an alleged cat killer living in their midst.
Scott Andrew Graham is serving 30 days of house arrest on a theft conviction after admitting that he stole between 30 and 40 cats from Mesa neighborhoods.
While he says he only played with the cats before releasing them in other locations, some residents believe his actions were far more nefarious. They believe Graham tortured and killed those cats.
Graham was arrested in August 2012 after he was caught on surveillance video snatching a cat named Biscuit off the top of an SUV. A cat thought to be Biscuit was found the next day, along with two other cats. All three had been mutilated and killed.
Graham was charged with animal abuse, but those charges were later dropped due to lack of evidence. That left a single charge of theft for taking Biscuit. Judge Lue Sang found Graham guilty on that count in late July.
Residents of Graham’s neighborhood near Guadalupe and Alma School roads believe his crimes go beyond that one theft. They think he has been torturing and killing cats for as long as five years.
Many of them were present at Graham's sentencing.
"He destroyed the memory of him (Biscuit). Now I have the memory of a horrific image after identifying him of the crime against him," said Amy Kalis, Biscuit’s owner, after the sentencing hearing. "I still believe he committed this crime against Biscuit, mutilated him and killed him."
Several other cat owners believe Graham killed their pets, as well.
Neither Kalis nor any other of the cat owners who believe Graham killed their pets was part of Tuesday’s silent protest.
“We’re out here to educate the neighborhood and the public …,” Jan McClellan told 3TV’s Jill Galus. “We’re not forgetting about these gruesome crimes committed by Graham. … We’re not going away.”
McClellan, who believes the city "grossly bungled the case," also pointed out that people who hurt animals often escalate to hurting people.
"People like him should not be allowed out on the street where he could go great harm to more animals," Lisa Gata, one of the protesters, said.
In addition to house arrest, Graham, 40, was sentenced to 36 months of unsupervised probation and is required to undergo a mental health evaluation. He also has to pay hundreds of dollars in fines, including restitution to Kalis.
Residents plan to gather outside Graham’s house again on Saturday. Graham has declined to speak to 3TV about the accusations made by his neighbors.