A sadistic cat killer who has been mutilating pets across the South East is in fact the work of foxes say police as they close a three year investigation.
See also Fears cat killer has struck in Hastings.
The alleged killer, dubbed the Croydon Cat Killer, was said to be operating in the M25 area, Kent and East Sussex and was believed to have been responsible for a number of grisly cat deaths in Hastings and Rother.
Owners found dismembered pets in their gardens or on doorsteps - in some cases cats had been decapitated.
It led to local cat lovers and protection groups issuing warnings through social media, as well as a concerted campaign to catch the offender.
Animal charities Peta and Outpaced put a £10,000 bounty on “his” head, and offered a description of the man they believed was killing and mutilating cats.
He was said to be a white man in his 40s with short brown hair, dressed in dark clothing, possibly with acne scarring to his face. They advised that he may be wearing a headlamp or carrying a torch.
But now police are claiming that investigations have shown that most of the cats probably died in road accidents and were later dismembered by urban foxes.
Police said the majority of the cats suspected to be killed by the “serial killer” were hit by cars before having their heads or tails removed by scavenging foxes.
Scotland Yard announced there was no evidence for human involvement, after a leading veterinarian reviewed six cat autopsies. While initial post-mortems by veterinary pathologists.
Police finding were backed by the RSPCA, despite the leading animal charity initially stating, in 2016, the heads and tails appeared “to have been removed by a human, after death.”
Although police refused to disclose how much money was dedicated to the long investigation, it was revealed last year that 10 cat autopsies cost the force £7,500.
But some cat lovers remain unconvinced about the police findings.
One London based animal charity called SNARL said it was “surprised” by the Met’s decision to close the case.
It said: “We have taken a collective decision to continue with the investigation.
“We now have the skills within our extended team to cover most of what police would be doing anyway.
“The police have stated they have never had a full-time officer assigned to the case, so we are wondering now how much time has actually been spent trying to solve this.”
In December 2017 the Observer reported on fears that the cat killer had struck in Hastings, after the body of a cat was found in a garden at Hughenden Road. There were also reports of a kitten being killed and left on a doorstep at Westfield and a cat being killed in Bexhill.
See also Has cat killer struck in Bexhill?