Arrest made in cat mutilations; man admits taking 30-40 cats

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

MESA, Ariz. -- Police have arrested a man in connection with the killing and mutilation of at least two cats in Mesa.

Scott Andrew Graham, 39, admitted taking between 30 and 40 cats from the area around Baseline and Alma School roads, according to Sgt. Anthony Landato of the Mesa Police Department.

Police arrested Graham Monday evening after a neighbor spotted his vehicle in the area twice within several days. The first time, that neighbor said he followed the vehicle on his bike. He told police he saw the driver, believed to be Graham, throw a cat from the window as he fled the neighborhood.

The second time the neighbor saw Graham's vehicle, he was able to get the license plate and pass it on to investigators who tracked it to a home southeast of Alma School and Guadalupe roads.

This all goes back to the night of Aug. 8, when a man, now believed to be Graham, snatched a cat named Biscuit from the roof of his owner's car. The suspect then jumped into his own car, cat in hand, and drove away. The whole thing, which took place just a mile from Graham's home, was caught on surveillance video, which was shared with neighbors.

A few days later, Biscuit and at least one other cat, possibly two, were found dead and mutilated behind a nearby strip mall.

It was about two weeks after Biscuit was taken that the alert neighbor first saw Graham's vehicle.

According to Landato, Graham told officers he never he never hurt the cats that he admitted taking. He said he only played with them and then released them in different areas.

"There was evidence at the residence and in the suspect's vehicle that, combined with the suspects' strange story and video surveillance, led to his arrest …," Landato said in an email to media outlets Tuesday morning.

Residents of the area say at least 12 cats are missing. At this point, no other remains have been found.

The Humane Society of the United States had put up a reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.

“Disturbing doesn’t even begin to describe the fact that at least one person lured and took a pet cat like a stranger with candy," said Kari Nienstedt, Arizona state director for The Humane Society of the United States.

While the investigation is ongoing, police say Graham will face animal cruelty charges.

In Arizona, felony animal cruelty charges can carry a maximum sentence of two years in prison and fines up to $150,000.