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Cat killer in Twin Lakes: Human or animal?
Some residents near the Twin Lakes golf course have learned their missing pets came to a disturbing demise.
Missing cats have been found cleanly chopped in two, one half left on the golf course's fifth hole fairway. Patty and Don MacDougall's cat, Heidi, is the latest victim.
"We miss her," Patty MacDougall said. "And to have her go like that."
The manner in which the cats were killed has left the MacDougalls and neighbor Scott Hogue, who lives at the course's edge near the fairway, worrying the act was performed by a person. The city's animal services unit believes coyotes may be the culprits.
In early August, the MacDougalls' cat went missing. She was primarily an indoor cat and it was unusual when she didn't come inside one night. Shortly after her disappearance, a golf course groundskeeper found the cat, with her identification still on her collar, on the golf course's fifth hole fairway. Only her front quarters was recovered.
"She was cleaved all the way through, clean," Patty MacDougall said.
Similar incidents date back some time. Patty MacDougall said the groundskeeper who found her cat told her the incident is not out of the ordinary, and he finds the rear half of cats on the course's fifth hole annually. Twin Lakes Golf and County Club, located at 3583 SW 320th St., was unable to confirm or deny this. The MacDougalls lost a kitten around 10 years ago. The kitten's hindquarters was found not long after it went missing. Five years ago, Hogue's cat, also mostly an indoor animal, went missing. The next morning, a cat's hindquarters, with markings matching those of Hogue's cat, turned up near the fifth hole.
"It's always in the same spot and the same condition," Patty MacDougall said.
Prior to speaking to the groundskeeper, the MacDougalls and Hogue thought their cats had fallen prey to a wild animal. Coyotes have been spotted on the course.
Now, they think the culprit is human. If an animal, such as a coyote, had killed the cats, the scene would have been messier, Hogue said. Tufts of fur and more of the cats' remains would have been found, he said.
"(The cat) wasn't damaged in any way, shape or form, except it was severed from the rest of the body," he said about his cat.
The MacDougalls reported their cat's death to the police, who handed the investigation over to the city's animal services unit. Animal services officer Scott Eatchel responded. He spoke with the MacDougalls, but was unable to examine their cat's remains. Eatchel believes wild animals are to blame for the incident.
"I have observed that carcasses that have been deliberately severed usually bare significant tool marks in the form of a jagged edge," Eatchel wrote in his report. "Clean separation is often more consistent with the stretching and tearing of flesh that takes place when an animal is consumed."
Eatchel also reported that, in his experience, it is common for a wild animal to leave its prey's hindquarters behind.
Regardless of how the cats were killed, the MacDougalls and Hogue wonder if neighbors are aware of what's happening. They wonder who else has lost a cat in this fashion.
They'd like to see the golf and country club or homeowners' association let all nearby residents know that missing cats are turning up dead on the golf course. The information could be passed along in the newsletter the community receives.
"It's not (Twin Lakes') fault that it's happening, obviously, but it's happening on their property," MacDougall said.
Personnel with the golf and country club said the club is aware of the problem and is working to learn more and sort out the issue.