JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – People living in the Springfield neighborhood of Jacksonville say they are disturbed by reports of someone capturing cats in the area.
One incident was caught on camera, which News4JAX first showed Monday. One woman said nearly two dozen cats have been reported missing from the area since the beginning of the year.
“We want to encourage people to turn him in,” said Heather Golden, as she clasped flyers she made Tuesday.
She hopes they will help her find who is responsible for her cat’s disappearance as well as solve the case of several other missing cats.
“If you know who this person is, obviously, he needs some kind of help,” she said.
Golden noted that someone took her beloved cat Ashi from her porch Saturday night as her neighbor was pulling up in his SUV.
“My neighbor comes banging on the door, saying, ‘Somebody just took your cat,’” she said. “He said, ‘I think he killed him.’ So I ran out the door, nothing but socks, in my jammies and hopped in the Jeep and called 911.”
The pair saw a man with a white tarp in his hands, but he ran away as soon as she spotted him. Neighbor Carlos Spencer said he used the tarp to catch and hold down the cat.
“His actions were so callous that I know it wasn’t his first time,” Spencer told News4JAX. “He had it down. He didn’t flinch.”
(Video shared by News4JAX viewer below. Discretion advised.)
Spencer said he was stunned and recorded a disturbing video of the culprit. It’s dark, but he contends it shows the cruelty.
“He just stepped in and grabbed him,” Spencer said. “You could see the cat moving around, he got him, he rushed him over ... put them on the ground, and he just, by the time he was on his knees.”
Spencer and Golden called police, but the man got away. We’ve learned the city’s Animal Care and Protective Services and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office are on the case. So is the neighborhood watch.
A spokeswoman for ACPS said the agency sent information to JSO. The Sheriff’s Office’s public information officer said a patrol officer were working the case, but it was suspended due to lack of suspect information. She said Golden’s cat was the only pet reported to have been taken in this manner.
Golden has been talking to neighbors and has identified 21 cats that have gone missing from the same area over the past year, telling News4JAX two were found dead. She released a spreadsheet with names, contact information and the locations they were last seen.
Everett Moore’s cat, Snowpaws, is one of the cats on the list. Moore said Snowpaws has been missing for about a week.
“Never misses a meal,” Moore said. “Comes back every day.”
Jim Crosby, who is an animal cruelty expert and used to work for JSO, says the person attacking these cats probably has a criminal history.
“It seems he’s grabbing them from a specific area,” Crosby noted. “It may be somebody who is severely mentally disturbed and is taking out whatever fantasy he has on cats.”
A GoFundMe account for the reward is growing. At time of publishing, it was over $2,000. Golden hopes someone will do the right thing and stop the culprit before things get worse.
“That’s exactly what I worry about,” she said. “If he is as brazen and confident and efficient at killing a small animal like that, then what’s to stop him from moving up to a child? Or an elderly person?”
The man was described as in his early- to mid-30s, being skinny, having a thin mustache and wearing all-black clothing and boots. That description was later confirmed by another neighbor’s surveillance camera, which recorded the man walking by as he was holding what appeared to be a white tarp.
JSO said anyone with information is asked to call police or e-mail JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org.