The infamous Croydon cat killer does not exist, the Metropolitan Police has confirmed.
Officers began an investigation in 2015, into reports from members of the public about mutilated cats, often found with their heads and tails removed, in Croydon and the surrounding area.
Following a thorough examination of the available evidence, officers working alongside experts have concluded that the cat mutilations: “were not carried out by a human, but are likely to be the result of predation or scavenging by wildlife.”
On all the cases, the Metropolitan Police worked alongside the RSPCA and Croydon-based group South Norwood Animal Rescue League (Snarl).
The conclusion has however left Snarl displeased and they released a statement stating their “surprise”: “We consider that the evidence we have gathered over the last three years does indicate human involvement and there is expert opinion to back this up.”
Lurid accounts of the killers activity were published in local and national papers, with claims that the killer could most likely be a “psychopath” carrying out pet murders for sexual perversion; draining blood off the pets with surgical precision.
However, after 25 post-mortem examinations conducted by a veterinary pathologist, the cause of death was found to be blunt force trauma, such as collisions with vehicles. The mutilations were found to have occurred after death.
No evidence of human involvement was found in any of the reported cases. There were no witnesses, no identifiable patterns and no forensic leads that pointed to human involvement. In three instances where CCTV was obtained, footage showed foxes carrying bodies or body-parts of cats. Officers have now come to the conclusion that the incidents were in fact a case of wildlife scavenging on road-kill.
During the investigation, officers in Croydon collated over 400 additional reports made to the Metropolitan Police by members of the public or animal charities, of cat mutilations across London and surrounding counties. All of these cases will now be recorded as “no crime”.
Commander Amanda Pearson said : “The decision was made to allocate a large number of similar reports of mutilated cats to the officers who were investigating the initial spate of such allegations. In particular, they were following up the six suspicious cases identified by the post-mortem examinations.
“It is this collating of reports that enabled officers to work with experts and reach the conclusion that no further police investigations are required into any of the allegations relating to mutilated cats.”
Dr Henny Martineau, the Head of Veterinary Forensic Pathology at the Royal Veterinary College, carried out post-mortem examinations on the six cats whose deaths were previously considered suspicious.
She concluded that the mutilations had been caused by predation and/or scavenging, and highlighted that fox DNA had been found around the wound sites on all five bodies.
Additional forensic tests were carried out, and these did not show any clear difference between marks on the bodies of cats that had been scavenged and the cats whose mutilations had been deemed suspicious.
Chief Inspector Stuart Orton from Hertfordshire Police, which led a linked investigation, told the BBC that “the prospect of a person or persons travelling the country and mutilating animals had been eliminated”.
He added: “I hope this conclusion brings comfort to pet owners who have, up until now, been frightened to let their animals out at night.”
Anxious Croydon residents had raised £5000 since October in a bid to help catch the borough’s rumoured cat killer, amid fears that humans could have been targeted next. The three-year investigation also saw a £10,000 reward being offered for information leading to the conviction of those responsible for mutilations in Greater London, Surrey, Kent, Manchester, Birmingham, St Albans and Northamptonshire.
The Metropolitan Police has urged people to report cases where there is no direct evidence of human involvement, to the RSPCA.