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Elgin Man's 2012 Cat-Hoarding Case Continues

(STMW) -- The petting-zoo animal-cruelty case against Elgin resident Stacy Fiebelkorn has just begun.

But the court battle of William Tinkler, accused of hoarding both dead and living cats in his Victorian home along Villa Street in Elgin.

Tinkler, an unemployed 62-year-old former dance teacher and soldier, was charged in September 2012 with four counts of cruelty to animals, four counts of violating an owner's duties and one count of improper disposal of dead animals, all misdemeanors.

Tinkler was arrested after a crew sent by city officials to cut his overgrown lawn smelled a foul odor coming from a work van parked in his driveway. Elgin animal control officers said they found 43 rotting, dead animals, most of them cats, inside the van. In the house they found four live cats and what they described as grossly unsanitary conditions, with pet waste and trash throughout the house.

Neighbors described Tinkler as an animal lover who fed and played with every cat in the neighborhood,

In an interview with The Courier-News last June, Tinkler said he used to line up rows of pet food bowls and litter boxes in his basement and leave his basement windows open so dozens of cats could come and go at will. He said the dead animals in the van had died of natural causes, one at a time. He said he had stored the bodies in a basement freezer with the goal of eventually mounting them as taxidermy specimens. But when the freezer broke down and the bodies began to decay, so he moved the corpses to the parked van, he said.

Tinkler has a state taxidermy license but could not show any specimens that he actually had stuffed and mounted.

Tinkler's court case has been progressing slowly with one hearing after another ever since the arrest. A court-ordered physical and psychological analysis last summer judged him mentally fit to stand trial, though he was hospitalized for awhile for a hip problem and for awhile could walk only with the aid of crutches.

Last summer his lawyer participated in the sort of conference with a judge and prosecutors that often precedes a guilty plea and a negotiated sentence. But soon after that, the attorney notified the court that he was withdrawing from the case because of "an irretrievable breakdown in the attorney and client relationship."

The court then assigned a public defender to represent Tinkler. When Tinkler appeared for his latest hearing date in St. Charles Tuesday morning, he had disheveled, almost-white hair and limped heavily. After he conferred with the public defender for about a half hour in a conference room, he left and court officials set a new hearing date for next month. Tinkler and the public defender declined to comment.

Another Elgin dog-hoarding case began last May 10, in a home in the 100 block of Villa Street, just three blocks from Tinkler's house. City animal control officers said they found 22 dogs and four cats living among animal waste and other debris.

The three people living in the home — 51-year-old Sherry L. Dove, 19-year-old Felicia V. Dove and 24-year-old Robert A. Groves — each was charged with animal cruelty, violation of an owner's duties and failure to inoculate.

All three cases were settled less than two months later, on July 3, 2013. Prosecutors dropped the cruelty and owner's duties charges in return for the trio's pleas of guilty on the inoculation charges, an assessment of $750 against each of them to repair damage to the rented home, plus promises by the Doves that they would not own any animals anymore and a promise by Groves that he would own no more than one dog and one cat at a time.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2014. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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