JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man is charged with animal cruelty in connection with the death of a cat in the Springfield neighborhood, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
Blake Miles, 35, was arrested Sunday on the third-degree felony charge, Duval County jail records show. According to jail records, he also faces a misdemeanor charge of petit theft.
Beginning in mid-November, JSO said, it began receiving phone calls related to missing and/or dead cats. The Sheriff’s Office said officers assigned to the Springfield area responded to multiple calls over a couple of weeks.
“As a result of the complaints, and seeing a pattern developing in the area, officers immediately began canvassing the known areas of the reported incidents attempting to put a name to the face of the potential suspect,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a news release Monday.
Police said that they eventually identified Miles as the suspect and that an arrest warrant was sought.
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JSO confirmed to News4JAX that Miles is charged with animal cruelty in one cat death in Springfield. According to the report, the incident in which led to Miles arrest happened Nov. 12 involving the cat of Heather Golden, a resident who previously spoke with News4JAX.
A witness reportedly told JSO that a man matching the description of the suspect was staying with him while they worked on a car. According to the report, JSO contacted the Golden and another witness who recorded video. After police setup a photo lineup, a witness identified Miles.
Springfield residents have told News4JAX that more than 20 cats are missing, but police said Monday that they continue to follow up on other similar reported cases in the area “as they work to identify if the suspect is the same or if there could be others involved.”
Neighbors also said the bodies of two of the missing cats were recently found in a nearby dumpster, but it was not immediately known if the death of either of those cats is the case that Miles is charged in connection with.
In the days leading to the arrest, resident Chris Waterman said he’d been following the conversation on a local Facebook group. After someone was caught on surveillance camera appearing to use a tarp to steal a pet, that cat’s owner drew a sketch, which was turned over to police.
“I had a pretty good idea of what he looked like, and, you know, some other distinguishing features, the mustache, the hat and things like that,” Waterman said.
Upon witnessing himself who appeared to be the same man attempting to lure a cat over, Waterman said he stepped in.
“I ran downstairs and grabbed my my baseball bat, just as a precaution, and waited to see if he was going to act any further. And then, when he started coaxing the cat was, when I kind of sprang into action and approached him with a baseball bat,” he explained.
That man, Waterman said, quickly walked away, and Waterman reported the description to JSO.
Through tips from the community, police said, officers arrested Miles.
“JSO went really went hard at this,” Golden told News4JAX after the arrest. “I feel like the neighborhood coming together and giving them the information with the wanted posters, we made a real push to help them get this done.”
Records show that among a lengthy criminal history, in 2014, Miles was arrested after a fight with his former boss, Frank Charles, at pet boarding business Dogtown USA. Investigators determined Charles shot Miles twice during the fight, and the shooting was ruled self-defense.
Miles was ordered held on a $75,000 bond.