WARNING: The story contains graphic details of animal cruelty.
ROCK ISLAND, Illi. (WHBF) — Rock Island Police are investigating an extreme case of animal cruelty, involving the recent killing, gutting and skinning of a pet cat.
Police Chief Richard Landi said recently that police are investigating a mutilated cat that was found last week in the area of College Hill Circle in Rock Island. The incident is being investigated by Animal Control and Criminal Investigations.
“I am unable to provide any further details at this time,” Landi said by e-mail.
The cat’s owner, Steve Havercamp of Rock Island, said Milo’s body was found the morning of April 28 in the area of 30th Street and 10th Avenue (near Kavanaugh’s), and just 40 yards from their house.
Milo was a stray cat that showed up at their door on Christmas Day, 2016, and was estimated to be 18 months old at the time. The family was still recovering from the death of their former cat, who was 20 years old, Havercamp said Tuesday. He lives with his wife and adult stepdaughter, and they never had other pets.
Milo (a black and white tuxedo cat) liked to wander the neighborhood and wasn’t happy just being inside, he said.
“We put in a cat door and he would come and go as he saw fit, but he would never be gone for more than an hour,” Havercamp said. “He always came back.”
He wandered in about a three-block area. “And our neighbors were wonderful, who would text me or call me when they saw him, about his antics and what he was up to,” he said. “He was the neighborhood cat.”
Milo last left the house about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 27, and Havercamp was worried when he didn’t come back by 8 p.m. He went looking for him in the area that night, and by the next morning, posted a “Missing” announcement with Milo’s photo on three Facebook pages dedicated to lost and found pets in the QC area.
Havercamp found him Thursday morning, in a ravine about 40 yards from his house – killed, gutted and skinned. He called police immediately and they concluded Milo was massacred somewhere else, since there was no blood on the site.
“I was just so shocked at what I saw,” Havercamp said, noting the animal control officer he spoke with said it was the worst case of animal cruelty he’d seen in his 30-year career.
“He was so shocked by it. He called the detective in to conduct a full investigation because this is an animal cruelty charge, which is a felony,” he said.
This could not have been done by another animal, Havercamp said.
“His flesh was cut with a sharp blade that can be seen by how the flesh was removed, sharp edges to the cuts,” he said. “All the muscle and tissue was flayed from the bone. There’s no bite marks; there’s no teeth marks, and you can see the surgical precision in place.”
“There’s no doubt about it, that neither the animal control officer, with 30 years experience, nor the detective who’s investigating — the conclusion was absolute and immediate that it was done by a human.”
Havercamp posted about the case on Facebook without using his real name. He said he’s normally a very private person, but is speaking out to make sure this person is stopped and caught.
“Only a very sick person, a sadistic person would do something like this and I need to be sure they don’t do it again,” he said. “And I know people who engage in this type of behavior, rarely stop on their own. They tend to gravitate to even worse crimes.”
“We’re horrified that somebody could act in such a cruel manner and do this to an innocent animal.”
“The community both online and in my area have been wonderful in supporting my family and commitment to find and prosecute this guy,” Havercamp said. He has reached out to some local nonprofits that work with animals, to encourage donations to them.
If the suspect is caught, donations would go toward a $1,000 reward being offered for the suspect’s capture, but if he’s not caught, the donations would go to the nonprofit, he said.
If you want to make a contribution toward the reward fund or make a donation to a charitable organization that helps stray pets, Havercamp suggested King’s Harvest No Kill Shelter — which is setting up a GoFundMe page for the reward and which also accepts general donations.
King’s Harvest is a nonprofit charitable organization that both helps homeless and surrendered pets and helps them find them homes.
In the event the criminal is caught, the GoFundMe funds would be paid to the individual who provided information leading to the arrest and conviction. If the offender is not caught, the funds would be donated to King’s Harvest, Havercamp said. Its website is https://kingsharvestpetrescue.org.
“When you look up these type of people who capture kill and mutilate animals –they are typically isolated from the community, feel powerless and engage in criminal behavior as some sort of sick therapy, a sick thrill for them,” Havercamp said. “Statistics show that they never stop on their own or rarely stop on their own, and they to continue to get worse.”
According to the FBI, animal abuse is highly correlated with interpersonal, human-to-human violence. Serial killers often torture or kill small animals from an early age, and men who commit child abuse or domestic violence very frequently harm household pets as well.
“If somebody is harming an animal, there is a good chance they’re also hurting a human,” said John Thompson, deputy executive director of the National Sheriff’s Association, in a 2016 interview.
The Rock Island case has not been listed yet on the Crimestoppers of the Quad Cities website.
Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to call police at 309-732-2677, or Havercamp directly at 563-940-3831.